Sloth woke up when the sun was just starting to turn the sky orange. Not doing a great deal every day was thirsty work, so sloth struggled to stop his thoughts from drifting towards the image of the jungle waterhole. Following a lengthy yawn and an even longer stretch, Sloth started making his way down the trunk of his tree. Moving one limb at a time would have been a painful hurdle for most other animals and far too difficult to overcome, but, Sloth enjoyed his journey down his tree’s trunk and, besides, his mother always taught him that keeping yourself happy was the most important thing. There was very little time for a celebration about the fact that Sloth and made it to the base of the tree before he readjusted his limbs, stretched and lifted his paws over the dead leaves and smaller plants, continuing on the way to find the water.
Taking a moment to sniff the air, Sloth attempted to figure out which other jungle animals might be close by and whether they were a friend or a foe. Although his hind leg had barely left the base of the trunk, the smell of a nearby snake prompted him to freeze in his tracks. He spotted something some distance away, moving towards him underneath the leaves. Snake’s head appeared several meters away, poking up out of the forest debris. “Ssssssillly sloth, alwaysssss missssing out!” mocked snake. “Heading to the waterhole, yesssss?”
Sloth moved his lips slightly and blinked, but didn’t say a word, choosing instead to let the silliness of snake’s words linger in the air for several seconds.
“Hasssss no one told you, sssssssilly sloth? There isssss no more water!” Snake let our hearty laugh that echoed through the trees before diving back under the leaves. Ignoring the warnings made by snake, Sloth continued along his journey towards the waterhole.
Sloth lumbered along the jungle floor, the weight of his claws crunching leaves and snapping twigs as he moved. He hadn’t travelled very far when he heard the dreaded sound of a colony of monkeys laughing and playing in the distance. Although the sound was growing closer, he was far too slow to try and avoid them, so the best he could do was lift his head and smile as the monkey’s emerged from the depths of the jungle, swinging from the branches and making monkey sounds. Monkeys made it their business to know everybody else’s business, so sloth held his breath and closed his eyes as the colony moved all around him, making him feel increasingly nervous. One of the monkey’s tied his tail to the branch of the tree above where Sloth was standing and lowered himself down, right in front of Sloth’s face. “The waterhole is empty!” the monkey yelled, his voice as annoying as it was sharp. “That’s right, as empty as a moon crater and as dry as the shell of a peanut!” Sloth ignored what the monkeys had to say, and lifted his paw, to continue to the waterhole. “Tsk, tsk. Never listen, always missing out!” said the monkey hanging from the branch before lifting himself back up and bounding away with the colony.
Lifting his arms and feet as though were made of led, Sloth pushed on. In the distance, the sounds of nearly all of the jungle animals could be heard and Sloth started feeling confident that he was now very close to the waterhole. As he entered the clearing, he was confronted by the sight of all of the jungle animals gathered by the waterhole. They all stopped drinking and stared at Sloth, knowing that they had lied to him. He moved his head around slowly, taking in the scene in front of him. The animals staring in silence at one another, waiting to see what everyone would do next. Sloth lifted his head and let out a piercing sound, forcing the animals who had ears to cover them if they could. Right on cue, tens of crocodiles emerged, dragging their enormous bodies out of the water and forming a fortress around the edge of the waterhole. Sloth trudged towards the water’s edge and started drinking. Slowly. Forcing all of the animals to watch as he enjoyed having the waterhole to himself. After some time, he was done, and he let out another high-pitched yell, commanding the crocodiles return to the water. Satisfied, he turned around slowly and headed back into the jungle, all on his terms and all in his own time.
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.
Illustrations by Alisha Towers: FACEBOOK
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