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³You never live the same day twice.´ That was what she had always said, that was her motto in life. ³Make every day count.´ Well I thought as I woke up to the sunlight streaming through my bedroom window, she had made every day count, she had followed her dreams and had made her life what she wanted it to be. She had lived her life to the full and now it was my turn. But I had never wanted to do anything else other than this. I wanted to carry on doing what my mother, Jessica Livingston, had died to do. I wanted to be just like her, a Zoologist living in the lush Rainforests of Asia. That day had been like any other. We had woken up to the pounding rain that hammered through the canopy of trees giving rhythm of the jungle beat. The humidity clawed at my lungs and even though I had lived in the Rainforest for almost all of my life it wasn¶t something that you ever got used to. My hair was sticking to my back and sweat ran in rivulets down my body making my clothes stick to me like glue. My mother faired slightly better as she had short blond hair that never got in the way. We were walking into the dense trees when we came across a familiar waterfall that I had played in as a child. The sunlight filtered through the leaves onto the w ater that cascaded down the rocks. Everything that the water touched had been turned slimy and mouldy, and over time it had carved its own path through the rocks and vegetation around it. In the air I could taste the fresh fruit that clung to the branches of the trees and smell the pungent almost overpowering scent of the sea of flowers that surrounded me. The f orest was alive and talking. A chorus of hoots, howls, monkeys laughter and birds singing enclosed me and the water dancing off of the rocks made everything sound like an orchestra that was bu ilding up to its grand finale. The flowers brushed up against my skin as a slowly walked forward towards the glimmering water. It looked so inviting in the smothering heat of the rainforest so I took off my boots and dipped my feet into the cool water. Suddenly I heard the rustling of leaves on the other side of the bank. Usually this wouldn¶t bother me but something about the way the leaves moved made me nervous. I kept my eyes fixed on the stop where the leaves moved and I was stunned to see the magnificent creature that materialized from the shadows. She was beautiful. Her flaming body stood out against the ferns that draped across her back as her glowing predatory ey es locked on me. I could see a young cub by her side, too scared to ve nture into the clearing on its own. This was a bad situation
to be in as a female Tiger will fiercely protect her young. I slowly raised myself from the water as my mother walked into the clearing. ³Kayla what are you still do ing in the water...´ Her large emerald eyes zeroed in on the tiger and she fell silent. The Tiger came forward in a hunting crawl, a warning growl slipping through her bared teeth. ³Kayla, walk back slowly towards me.´ She whispered, ³Don¶t make any sudden movements or she will attack. Just walk back slowly.´ I gently pulled one of my feet out of the water , trying to be as quiet as possible. My other foot followed. I moved towards my mother always keeping my eyes on the Tiger. The dead leaves crunched as I moved and the thorns from the flowers scratched the soles of my feet. I stumbled backwards and I felt my foot collide with a log and unable to stop myself I fell onto the rough terrain of the forest floor. I heard a sharp intake of breath and then the ca cophonous noise of a large, moving object crashing into the water. Colossal claws slashed my ankle and powerful jaws locked on my knee. The blood curdling scream that issued from my mouth was astounding; it racked through my body and sent birds squawking into the sky. I was aware of another scream and an abrupt pulling sensation on my leg. I thrashed about and kicked whatever I could with my good leg. A grunt of pain leaked from the Tiger¶s mouth and I felt the jaws release my leg. Strong arms grabbed my shoulders and yanked me away from the animal. A feral snarl escaped from the Tiger¶s jaws as it pounded back towards my mother and I. My mother¶s arms released me and I heard her scram bling around belt for something. She pulled her gun from the belt and wit h shaking hands she tried to load a bullet into it. The Tiger advanced towards her, seeing her as the bigger threat and pounced on to her. I heard the shattering explosion of the gun firing. As the din faded I knew I had to find out if she was ok, but my h ead felt like it weighed a ton and the warm blood that was gushing out of the wound in my leg made it hard to frame coherent words. I could feel a darkness lulling me into unconsciousness, but I fought against it. ³Mum...mum...mum...´ I managed to say those few words then the blackness pulled me under.
I opened my eyes and looked up to the squared ceiling. I felt sacrachy bed sheets around me and something in my arm. I turned my head to the side and saw a nurse beside my bed looking at the machines around me. She noticed that I was awake. ³Kayla, how are you feeling?´ ³I¶m ok, where is my mum?´ ³I¶ll get the doctor and he will explain.´ ³No, where is she?´ I demanded getting more and more anxious that I wasn¶t getting a straight answer. ³Hold on, sweetheart , I¶ll just get the doctor.´ She said calmly trying to soothe me. I tried not to panic, hoping that she had only suffered minor injuries, but I knew that something was badly wrong because if she was fine then she would be sitting beside me. ³Kayla?´ A warm voice asked. ³Yes?´ ³I am very sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but when we brought your mother and yourself to the hospital, you were both in a very bad way,´ He paused for what seemed like an eternity, ³I¶m afraid that her injuries were so extensive and severe we weren¶t able to save her.´ ³No, no I¶m sorry but there must be some kind of mistake, she can¶t be dead she can¶t be.´ ³I¶m sorry, but there isn¶t any mistake. Kayla she¶s gone.´ He said in a voice that sounded as if it had aged a hu ndred years. ³She can¶t be, she can¶t isn¶t!´ I said as I dissolved into tears. ³Kayla, I know that this isn¶t by any means the best time, but the Tiger who killed your mother had a cub, and now she has no -one to take care of her. Would you be willing to consider looking after her?´ Those words brought me up short. My mother had devoted her life to looking after animals and now that she was gone I knew that I wanted to do the same thing. ³There isn¶t anything to consider,´ I said knowing that this is what s he would have wanted of me, what she would have expected of me, ³Of course I will look after her when will I be able to get out of here and get her?´ µAre you sure you don¶t need time to think about this, insight of what has happened?´ He asked surprised.
³No,´ I said strongly even though the tears of grief still streamed down my face, ³She made the animals her life and I want to do the same.´ So that¶s how two weeks later I was waking up and going to collect a young Tiger cub from quarantine. When I saw her she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her large chocolate eyes looked into mine with surprising intellect. Just like my mothers. That¶s when I realised that this was the right thing to do, so I took her home and fed her. She drank it up heartily and once she began to trust me she started to shoe her personality so I could pick a name for her. I settled on Jessica. Now every day I wake up and know that my Mother is smiling down on me, being proud that I am making each day count and making eve ry one of them unique.
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