Big Fawn

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Big Fawn was a good worker, and was tough!

Submitted: September 20, 2016

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Submitted: September 20, 2016

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Big Fawn wasn’t really big, her owner, Henry called her that because of her colour! The Big bit was his idea to make out she was tough and actually as far as small trucks go she was tough! And she had a title: 1984 Holden Rodeo Utility! He used to load her up with firewood cut from around his farm and sometimes they were really big, heavy loads! She would even pull trees over or snig small logs, more like a tractor than a truck! If she was empty, Big Fawn would spin her wheels, but Henry would load up some wood on the back, to give her some weight and then she would try her hardest to pull the logs along.

Henry and his mate Bruce built a crate that fitted on the back of Big Fawn and she enjoyed it when he had some sheep to take to the saleyards. She could easily carry ten, but at a push and a grunt she could take twelve! He took her slow when she had a big load because he was worried that noisy traffic might spook his sheep!

Nearly every day at the tree nursery, Big Fawn had the job of carting trees to the railhead, transport depot, courier or even home where people would call to pick up their order. She liked hearing the chug, chug of the diesel engines that pulled so many wagons and felt tiny when backing up to the bigger trucks, lorries some people call them, that sniffed at her small load. The courier vans were no bigger than her! Sure they were a bit taller and maybe a bit longer but nowhere near as tough!

Henry was loading firewood onto Big Fawn and she was about half full when he noticed smoke up in the forest! He had been Rural Fire Officer for over twenty five years, so he knew the dangers of a forest fire. He also knew that the new manager of the forest was over one hundred kilometres away, so he thought he had better mobilise the authorities and see if anyone was in trouble. So he rang 111 and knew that firefighters and helicopters would soon be on their way.

The smoke smelt like gorse smoke to him, and by the look of it, the fire was not actually in the forest but on the farmland beyond, the smoke was drifting down into the forest and sometimes with smoke there are sparks! He put Big Fawn into gear and headed up the road towards the smoke, knowing it as a bit dangerous but someone needed to check if there were any spot fires.

In the forest, where the smoke was thin but still enough to make you cough, a woman was standing in the middle of the road waving her arms to make Henry stop. There were tears in her eyes, caused by the smoke or because she was distraught, Henry wasn’t sure but he stopped to talk to her.

‘My kid’s,’ she cried, ‘my children are up there in the smoke! They went up to Cleft Rock while I went on this walking track! I don’t know where they are now!’

Henry knew Cleft Rock, it was on the boundary of the forest at the top of Saddle Road, in the thick of the smoke but because fire burns best uphill, he thought there would still be air there.

‘Keep on walking down the hill until you meet someone,’ instructed Henry, ‘tell them I have gone to look for your kids, but I won’t be able to come back this way. I will meet you at the bottom of the hill.’

‘Thank you!’ Henry heard the words as Big Fawn kicked up the dust, heading into the smoke, he knew exactly where he was going and that down into the next gully the smoke wouldn’t be quite so thick, he and Big Fawn would be able to catch some breath there. Then the climb up to the track that led to Cleft Rock would probably be smoky! He was right the smoke into the next gully was not so thick that he couldn’t see and he allowed Big Fawn to idle for a few moments in the gulley. She needed oxygen too! It was uphill now and the smoke was thicker, so sometimes Henry lost sight of the road, even though he knew the road like the back of his hand, he had to open the door and look down at the gravel to make sure they weren’t running off it. It was difficult breathing and tears flowed down his cheeks!

‘C’mon, old girl.’ Henry urged, and she responded.

A puff of wind allowed him to see up the narrow track that led up to the saddle and to Cleft Rock and it was lucky that Big Fawn was not as wide as those big, modern SUV’s because the trees had grown fatter and she only just fitted between them! It was just three hundred metres to the boundary and Cleft Rock was just beyond, but there was the locked wooden gate and there was the smoke, which was swirling and dense. It’s easy to lose your sense of direction and to panic in thick smoke but he had experienced it many times, never comfortably! Henry decided to drive as fast as he dared, first taking in as much oxygen as he could! Suddenly he was at the gate and struggling for air, but remaining calm, be nudged Big Fawn’s bumper against the gate and pushed! She did her best but her wheels spun, and Henry though he might have to run at it and crash against it, but at the last push, the boards gave way and they made to turn towards Cleft Rock!

Henry heard a cry, ‘Help!’ when he stopped at the rock! The smoke was thick, but he could make out the shape of the rock. He left Big Fawn idling and ran down through the smoke and gorse towards the cry. There, a boy of perhaps twelve and a girl a bit younger were lying flat in the lee of the rock! Henry guessed that somebody had taught them well. They were frightened, but at least they could breathe!

He led them back to Big Fawn and told them to crouch as low as possible in the passenger side and he put his oilskin coat over them, to keep out the worst of the smoke and so they wouldn’t be alarmed when they drove through the dense smoke.

The way the wind was, Henry knew the smoke would be thick on the short rise to the ridgetop, but then he reckoned they would be out of it. He revved Big Fawn and she charged through the smoke, he knew there was a bend in the road about half way up, but suddenly he couldn’t see, he slowed, not wanting to open the door to look at the road because the kids might become upset. Through a small gap in the smoke, he saw the hazy outline of a culvert marker, and knew it was on the bend. He knew because he had put it in there thirty years ago! He could have steered Big Fawn blindfolded over the next fifty meters! Suddenly they were in sunshine!

He stopped to check on the progress of the fire, they were no longer in danger! The kids unfurled from the cab and Henry suggested the ride down to meet their mother, should be on the back of Big Fawn where they would breathe in a good dose of pure forest oxygen! They sat rather uncomfortably atop the firewood. By the time they reached their relieved mother, her kids were laughing at the bumps, wheeing around the sharp corners and ducking below low-hanging branches!

Hooray for Big Fawn!


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