Once upon a time, in a jungle so thick, it was impossible to tell one vine began and another vine ended, a group of crocodiles were making their way down a dirty river, trying to find some young fish to pick on. Since the crocodiles were the strongest animals in the river, they were sure they could get away with almost anything. And they were right. For years, the crocodiles spent a great deal of their time bossing the other animals around without ever getting into trouble at all. No animal was strong enough to stand up to the crocodiles, so they believed they could do as they pleased. Today, however, things were not going to go according to plan for the crocodiles, because, today, a crocodile named Ava had something special planned of her own.
Baby crocodiles weren’t born mean, it was something they had to learn from the older crocodiles. Therefore, in the world underneath the surface of the dirty water, most crocodiles learn very quickly about the benefits of being born a crocodile and how to use their strength and power to their advantage. Ava came into the world just like every other crocodile before her: Through breaking her way through an egg. It was obvious, however, from the minute that she was born that there was something different about her. While the other crocodiles immediately started copying the wrestling moves taught to them by the other crocodile, Ava would sit back, watch and wait for the other crocodiles to be so busy fighting each other that she was able to simply walk up and take any food they were fighting over and eat it for herself.
Ava was calm, thoughtful and, above all else, she understood that she should not take for granted the privilege given to her by being born a crocodile. She did not choose to be a crocodile any more than she chose to be tired at the end of a long day. Ava thought that it was obvious that most other crocodiles gave little thought to this idea and that they were happy just to simply accept their place at the top of the food chain without question. Little did any of the other river animals know, however, that Ava had recently become friends with a whale named Shannon.
The two animals had become unlikely friends one evening when Ava had taken a wrong turn to head home and had accidentally ended up where the river met the ocean. Curious as she was, she headed out deeper and deeper, exploring a world that had previously been entirely unknown to her. The further out she went, the more curious she became, and this was when she met a whale named Tyler. Tyler was swimming dangerously close to the shallow water for a whale of her size, and she was swimming very quickly. A shark was chasing her, and, as Tyler swam directly over Ava, Ava decided to swim between the two creatures, scaring the shark away and staying with Tyler until she was calm again. Tyler told Ava that she owed her a favour and that she would be happy to repay her at any time. For Ava, that day was today.
As Ava swam with the crocodiles along the river, watching them pick on the littlest of fish, she told them that she thought it was so great being a crocodile, but that she wasn’t sure that they had the strength and power to pick on the larger animals in the ocean. Laughing at this suggestion, the crocodiles accepted her challenge and made their way to the mouth of the river. Once in the ocean, the crocodiles started picking on every animal they could find, mocking Ava in the process. Just then, one of the crocodiles spotted an enormous, grey wall out of the depths of the ocean, and it was heading straight towards them.
As the wall moved closer, it became clear that it wasn’t a single object, but was made of tens of large whales heading directly towards them. The crocodiles panicked and attempted to swim back to the safety of the river, but the whales had them surrounded. Frightened for the first time in their lived, the crocodiles were unsure how to even begin to prepare to fight. The whales and the crocodiles stared at each other for what felt like forever, with Ava eventually breaking the silence. To the surprise of the other crocodiles, Ava swam over and joined the whales, instructing them to back down. The crocodiles began to relax but were still unsure how to deal with this unfamiliar feeling of not being the most powerful creature in the water.
The head crocodile spoke. “You have made your point, Ava. We will seek to make amends in our rivers and to use our strength wisely.” The whales and the crocodiles parted ways, with Ava choosing to stay with her crocodile friends and to make sure they stayed true to their word.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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