“You know when I was growing up my mother always told me that I should find a nice man, settle down, have some kids, work and grow old. And at first I wouldn’t date out of spite but now I think I’ve forgotten how.” I turned to look at Ellie, I try to finish cleaning up before I have to leave for the day.
“I spend all my time here looking after are you guys, it’s not like I could meet a man here. And if I were to meet one, just look at me, like anybody would go on a date somebody that looks like me.” I look down at my stained shirt and jeans, my boots all muddy and I just know my hair is a mess.
“And I know what you’re gonna say ‘oh Bella you’re beautiful what are you talking about’” I do my best impression, lowing my voice as I wave my finger around in a mocking tone.
“I mean come on Ellie look at me I’m covered in shit all day. I am here all day, and if I’m not here I’m studying and if I’m not studying I’m trying to get eight hours of sleep or three healthy meals, maybe do a bit of exercise, I don’t have time to date.” I grab the rake to try and finish up but not being done with my rant I turn back to face Ellie.
“And people always tell me that I can cut back my hours that I don’t need to be here all the time but if I don’t who’s gonna look after you? Frank like I trust him. He doesn’t know what you need.” I walk closer to Ellie.
“Maybe I should just try online dating or something maybe go out to a bar and make some friends what do you think?” Ellie then sticks her trunk out and starts to play with my hair. “Yeah thanks for the help Ellie.”
I finish raking all the hay and leave the elephant enclosure. Starting to get dark and the zoo always a bit eerie at night. I walk back into the lunchroom and grab my bags to head out for the day. The light above me flickers, we really need to get that fixed.
In the parking lot I see Frank’s car still here he must still be cleaning out the reptile enclosures. I think about helping him but I know that if I do you’ll never do it by himself again.
It’s late when I get home I go straight for the shower I’m always an absolute mess when I get home from work. I look in the mirror and see twigs and hay in my hair. This is what I was talking about no man is gonna wanna girl that can’t keep herself tidy.
I can here my phone going off in the kitchen, it’s probably just Frank asking me what he has to do next. I’ve never liked Frank he’s been there for just under two years and he is still completely clueless. I think he just got this job because he thought it be a good way to meet girls, being around cute animals all day he probably thought it would boost his appeal.
Once showered and dressed I start to make my dinner I decided to check the message I got before.
‘The foxes are almost ready to give birth be ready to go for when they are’
It was my boss. We had recently installed cameras in the fox enclosures just in case they gave birth in the middle of the night. This will be the first time in five years we have fox pups at the zoo, everybody is really excited, everyone except Frank. God I can’t stand him.
I scoffed down my dinner and get ready to go to bed it’s been a long day. I hear the guys next door having another party they do that a lot lately I haven’t been able to sleep since they have moved in. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m getting old, it is a Friday night after all maybe I should be partying with them.
My life is so boring I don’t think I’ve been to a party since my 21st. But in this town I don’t think I trust it. The Riders of War own everything from the North lakes to the Southern mountains. They are motorcycle club that is infamous in this city, they have a few businesses around town as a front but everybody knows they have secret underground business. The city is full of conspiracies, from drug cartels to sex slaves or gun deals and hitman. You name it somebody is probably spreading it right now.
The local police tried to fight them off but they come back stronger every time. I can hear them around town every now and then roaring around on their bikes. Mothers don’t let the children out at night, fathers keep guns under their beds. No one really knows what the deal is. Nothing seems to happen but everyone still on edge afraid of the rumours like monsters in the dark.
My alarm goes off the next morning, I’ve never been fond of mornings but I’m fond of animals so it makes it all worth it. It’s Saturday so they’ll be lots of families today.
I put my bag in the lockers and head out to do a check before we open. I walk into the reptile enclosure half expecting to see the enclosure is filthy and the light is on. To my surprise it’s all done I think this is the first time since he started Frank has actually finish the job.
“Bella, Frank has called in sick today I need you to do the reptile talk,” my boss Matthew calls out to me. And there it is, he’s cleaned the enclosures but he’s called in sick.
People start to file in and I start my day as usual. Check on the foxes, feed the birds and make sure Ellie hasn’t made too much of a mess. By 10 o’clock I’m ready to start the first talk.
“Hello everyone and welcome to the first reptile talk of the day before we start I just want to let everybody know that we will be pulling out some of our reptiles today however none of them are venomous, but you still shouldn’t get too close to them because they can get a bit scared,” all the little kids in the front have a worried look on their face.
“Before we start who can tell me a fun fact about reptiles that you’ve learnt here today?” The kids hands shoot up in the air and I call on a little boy no older than 4. His mom crouches down next to him and whispers in his ear.
“Reptiles are cold blooded,” he said with the cuties little grin.
“That’s right reptiles are cold blooded, that’s why we have these special little heat lamps at the top of all their enclosures so they stay nice and toasty warm. When talking about reptiles most people think about lizards and snakes but crocodiles, turtles, and tortoises are all reptiles too.”
The talk seemed to go well, I have given the reptile talk a few times before but it is not my area of expertise. I am much more comfortable around birds and mammals. As I was about to leave the mother of the little boy earlier came up to me.
“He would like to ask you a question,” she ushered him forward with a kind smile. “Go on, it’s okay.”
“Are dragons reptiles?” He looked up at me with a shy smile then quickly moved behind his mom.
“Dragons are reptiles, in fact we have one here that’s called a Komodo Dragon,” he stared at me with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen. “Do you want to come see it?”
“Yes please!” He took off. His mother and I just looked at each other and laughed.