Meet Justine Laismith.
Justine Laismith is the winner of the Beyond Words: Young and Younger writing competition, who published her chapter book, The Magic Mixer. She grew up in Singapore and has worked in the UK pharmaceutical, chemicals, and education sectors. When not writing, she takes far too many pictures on her phone. She now lives in England.
For more information, visit www.justinelaismith.wordpress.com.
Kai fetched his basket. It was wide and deep enough that if he curled himself into a ball, he could fit in it. Two pieces of cloths were tied to it in a loop shoulder length apart, forming the shoulder straps for him to carry the basket on his back. Yee Por held the basket for him while he threaded his arms through.
With the bucket inside and Piglet on a rope, Kai descended toward the thick bushes. Down the mountain path and past the soft green that grew around the clearing to his favorite Dragon’s Pearl Tree, the tall tree with enormous fruit that went uneaten. To Kai, it was such a wasted effort; even more so last year when the tree tried to brighten up the dry season with heavy blossoms. They were unusual flowers; instead of branches, they stuck out directly from the trunk. But like any flower, the petals fell and produced its fruit.
“The birds would not eat them, so we mustn’t eat them either.” He remembered what Ma had said.
Every tree and every rock down that familiar path to the river reminded him of Ma, how he used to charge ahead with Pink Belly, whacking the bushes and frolicking in the clearing until Ma caught up with them.Today, he did not feel like playing with the new piglet in the same way.
He had always gone with Ma to fetch the water. She was stronger and carried the bigger bucket. He carried the smaller one. It only took fifteen liters.
Without Ma, the road back was windier and more treacherous. The burden of the water weighed him down as he lumbered upward. Thank goodness Piglet was only tiny and seemed to know how to handle the uneven terrain, grass or rock, upward or downward. He rested his tired legs and shoulders every few meters. But each time he stopped, he listened for voices. He did not want to be caught resting by the school bullies. Especially now he was on his own.
On one of these breaks, he heard a rustle. Then a pair of huge feet appeared on the path.
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