A Special Child…Friday Fictioneers.

“Tilly! Tilly!” Jane screamed, frantically trudging through the bush trying to find her lost daughter. Mind, body and spirit on the brink of collapse, Jane laboured up the hill, powered by a mother’s love. Worried out of her mind, Jane almost forgot that hundreds of locals had joined the search. That she wasn’t alone.

Then, she saw Tilly’s boots perched on the edge of the cliff. Empty. She was too late. Her anguished scream flew over Echo Point and across the Megalong Valley on the wings of a white cockatoo, while Tilly splashed in the creek chasing tadpoles in the sun.


This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT (above)  submitted by  Courtney Wright © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous. All other photos are my own.

Three Sisters

The Three Sisters’ At Katoomba, West of Sydney.

Megalong Valley

While we were standing here, white Sulfur-crested cockatoos were swooping across the Megalong Valley. Unfortunately, I was too slow with the camera.

This story is set in the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney which is the home of the Three Sisters, a rock formation located on Echo Point overlooking the Megalong Valley. This is a rugged bush land setting where quite a few bush walkers have got lost and big search parties have been launched.  This is not the sort of place you want your child to get lost, or to disappear when they’ve had a meltdown and have special needs.

sulphur crested cockatoo

Sulphur-Crested Cocktatoo at Katoomba.


Newton Family 2011 Katoomba

Our family at the Three Sisters’ Lookout at Echo Point, Katoomba in 2011.

Like so many others, I am gravely concerned about the isolation of the individual in the modern world. While in so many ways the Internet has opened up new communities like Friday Fictioneers, we still need those connections on the ground. I wasn’t the most popular kid growing up, but I had quite a few people around me I could turn to and came from a close-knit family. My Dad was one of seven and there was always somebody at my grandparents’ house, and not just members of the family. The front door was never locked and that was symbolic of a general welcoming of the flotsam and jetsam which came and went.

These community connections still exist, and it’s often only in times of crisis that they come out of the woodwork. I guess I wanted people like the mother in my story to know that they’re not alone. At least, I hope not. I don’t want the village to become a myth.

I also wanted to share a song which has stayed with me all week. Mum was watching Britain’s Got Talent when she came across Irish priest, Father Ray Kelly, singing REM’s hit:  Everybody Hurts It’s incredible and he concludes with a heart wrenching cry “You’re not alone”.

Best wishes,



33 thoughts on “A Special Child…Friday Fictioneers.

  1. pennygadd51

    I love your turnaround here. I was extremely relieved that Tilly was safe. The message that you’re not alone is a good one, and a necessary one.

  2. Varad

    I literally let a sigh of relief after reading the last line. As a father of two little kids, I’m near paranoid about having them in our eyesight when we go out somewhere. This story resonated big time with me, Rowena.

  3. Courtney Wright

    This was a great take on the picture. It is true, we need to be cognizant of what other are going through and support their needs. I liked your story a lot…

    Remember to give the photo credit when publishing a story for Friday Fictioneers… thanks! 😉

  4. Rowena Post author

    Unfortunately, Tilly is on the autism spectrum and in her own world. In the word limit available I couldn’t emphasise that too much but the reference is in the heading with “special child”. Unfortunately, she isn’t out of the woods yet.
    Best wishes,

  5. Rowena Post author

    Sorry about the photo credit. It was quite late and I uploaded it before finishing it off. I always provide a link back as well. I had a very scattered day yesterday. My apologies.
    Best wishes,

  6. Rowena Post author

    The child in this story is on the autism spectrum and hence a bit in her own world. These children and their families need a lot of understanding and support, which can be a real struggle to find.
    You are right to be paranoid about your young children wandering away. My in-laws put us onto using wrist straps and these can be a real salvation if your child’s a runner or especially when they’re out with grandparents who may not be able to catch them when they run off. I’m also a huge fan of fenced playgrounds.
    Best wishes,

  7. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Penny. I always like to have that twist at the end and it was getting difficult with this one.
    I remember running round in the bush while our mothers were playing tennis as a kid and finding tadpoles in creeks and puddles.
    Don’t think we were actually being supervised…

  8. subroto

    Children do that all the time and be blissfully unaware of the panic around them. You are right about the isolation though. You can live in an apartment in the city for years and yet not interact with anyone. Even in the burbs people don’t know their neighbours anymore. I was a bit fortunate to have older neighbours who interacted more than the younger ones. I actually miss the old folks (now long gone) who we lived next to when we first moved here. Including one who had an OAM and 5 Logies – I have visual confirmation 😉

  9. lisarey1990

    Gorgeously written. On a side note Father Ray was my former Parish Priest as I’m originally from Oldcastle. Heard him many times singing in the Church & was in the choir at a Christmas show in the Church he sang & said the Mass at too a good few years back. He’s incredible & I’m chuffed for him. Hoping he’ll be the first Irish winner of Britain’s Got Talent. 🙂

  10. James McEwan

    Wether it is in the supermarket or on a cliff edge a missing child is anguish, even though there is no harm done. A parent’s frantic panic, nicely done.

  11. Rowena Post author

    I’m not sure whether that’s an Australian expression or not. We use the term “special needs”. Then, it can become a bit of a joke among quirky people like myself, that some of us are more special than others. It’s intended to be a nicer, more inclusive way of referring to children with disabilities, and also suggesting they have additional needs, but that doesn’t make them any less of a person.

  12. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    I’m so happy that it wasn’t the end, but I can feel the mother’s anguish… just hoping that she will find her daughter soon. I agree about meeting locally… we need both that and the wonderful connection in writing we have here.

  13. Dale

    Thankfully, it is more often the case that the child is blissfully unaware that he is being searched for. There are still too many where it is not!
    Well done, Rowena.

  14. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share – 21st May, 2018. | Beyond the Flow

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