'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 17 July 2015

KBR Short Story: Octavia Oakley, Ornithologist

by Jo Staker


What was that?

Octavia Oakley peered out from her hiding spot, her binoculars balancing on her nose.

She squinted into the lenses. Something blurry and very large was moving towards her.

Octavia lowered her binoculars and crouched still, hoping that whatever the large beast was, it was not going to see her.

CRACK! A branch snapped right beside her.

Octavia jumped, dropping her binoculars. They hit her on the knee, and she cried out, ‘Owwwwwwwwwww!’

‘Who’s there?’ the beast hissed.

Octavia hastily scanned her brain for dangerous talking beasts one might come across in the forest, and when she realised there were none, she crawled out from the bush she was hiding under, and stood up. The dangerous beast was in fact a girl.

‘Hello,’ she said. ‘I’m Octavia Oakley, Ornithologist.’

‘Orni-what-ogist?’asked the girl.

‘Or-ni-thol-o-gist,’ said Octavia, ‘That’s a person who studies birds. Well actually, I’m more of a bird finder. I find them, then write them down in my book here, see. Today I’m hoping to find  a very rare bird, the Peruvian Purple Parrot. Only two people in the whole world have ever seen one before. I’ve been hiding in this bush for 3 hours already. I know I won’t see one; Iwill probably wait my whole life and never ever see one’. Octavia sighed dramatically.

The girl was rubbing her forehead.

‘Did you bump your head? Show me. It looks OK, just a scratch. What’s your name?’

‘Penny’, the girl said. ‘You talk a lot Octavia.’

“I know,’ said Octavia laughing, ‘everybody says that. What are you doing here in the forest? Let me guess? You are hiding from your 5 big brothers? Or your mum wants you to clean your room? No wait! You are looking for something, something to put in that bag you’re holding. Am I right? Can I see what’s in the bag? Please.’ she added.

‘Rocks.’ said Penny.

‘Rocks. So you’re a geologist!’ said Octavia, ‘They study rocks. How funny, we are both ologists, I’m an ornithologist and you are a geologist. Have you found any today? I bet you have, let’s see, I wanna see!’

‘I found these,’said Penny reaching into her bag, ‘Some purple pebbles.’

 She opened her hand to show them to Octavia.

Octavia stared at the pebbles. She didn’t say anything.

‘Are you OK?’ said Penny.

Octavia nodded.

‘What’s wrong?’

“Not…..pebbles” said Octavia.

‘What do you mean, not pebbles?’

"Not pebbles… poo"


‘Peruvian…Purple… Parrot… poo.’  Octavia’s eyes were wide.

‘Poo!’screamed Penny.

She dropped the pebbles and started rubbing her hand on her shorts.

Octavia tried to speak, ‘Where….’

But that was all she could say.

‘Want me to show you where I found them?’ asked Penny laughing.

Octavia nodded.

‘Come on!’

That afternoon, Octavia Oakley, Ornithologist, became the third person in the world to see the Peruvian Purple Parrot, but nobody other than Penny knew until three days later when Octavia was finally able to speak again.

Jo lives in Sydney with her husband, four children, and four very fat chooks. She loves books, writing, and growing backyard veggies. She hopes to finish the world's longest running Arts degree this year. She sometimes blogs at Jo Digs.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.