By Margo Wayman
Aziz the crocodile was lying in the soft black dirt along the banks of the Nile River. He was enjoying the feeling of warmth from the sun beating down on his dark olive green hide. He yawned, opened his eyes, and looked up at the sky. He noticed that it was starting to get cloudy.
Just then a wall of muddy water sloshed over the top of him. Aziz began to gasp and cough as he was picked up by the force of the water and carried down river. After a few minutes of struggling, he was tossed up onto a large boulder. He held on tightly with this short, scaly legs as the water cascaded around him. "What was that?" he asked out loud. He looked all around and noticed that the river had flooded, covering the reeds and tall grasses along its banks.
Out of the corner of his eye, Aziz spotted something struggling in the water not too far away from him. He slipped back into the Nile and, using his tail, swam over to see what it was. "It's a tortoise," he noted, and dove down under the water. He came up right under it. As Aziz floated up to the surface, the tortoise found himself safely on Aziz's back.
"Thanks," the tortoise said, gratefully. "My name is Wali. I nearly drowned. What on earth happened?"
"Oh, the Nile flooded again. There must have been a lot of rain upriver. Now hold on tight. Don't let go. We'll swim along with the flow," Aziz told the tortoise.
Wali looked around. There was nothing to see but swift-flowing, muddy water. "I think that's a good idea. I'll hold on tight," he agreed.
Aziz flipped his long tail back and forth and continued up the river. Wali was looking all around. "What's that up there?" he said, pointing. "It looks like a feather pillow."
"I see it. Let's go check it out," Aziz said. Soon they reached the pile of white feathers.
"Why, it's a bird. It's a pink-headed dove," Wali noted. "Get closer, Aziz, and I'll grab it by the tail feathers and pull it up onto your back."
Aziz moved in as close as he could. Wali reached down and hoisted the bird up onto Aziz's back. It soon began to cough. "Why thank you. I was in that eucalyptus tree over there when a wall of water hit it and I fell into the river. I must have been knocked out.
Thank you for rescuing me." She sat up and said, "My name is Taroob. What are you two doing swimming about in this flood?"
"The Nile has flooded once more. I found Wali, the tortoise, and now we've found you. Hold on tight. Don't let go. We'll swim along with the flow," Aziz told the dove.
"I can see much better from up here," Taroob said as she climbed onto Wali's shell.
The three swam up the river. A few minutes passed and Taroob began to whistle excitedly. "Over there! Over there! I see something shiny," she said, and pointed to a papyrus reed sticking out of the mud.
Aziz flipped his tail as fast as he could and soon they were staring at the most beautiful thing any of them had ever seen.
"Well, are you going to look at me all day, or are you going to rescue me?" the large insect said with sarcasm.
Aziz moved in closer. "Jump on top of my back," he told her.
She let go of the reed and jumped right onto Aziz's scaly back. She looked up at the pink feathers on top of Taroob's head. "Those are pretty pink feathers," she said, looking thoughtfully. "But not as pretty as my metallic green wings. By the way, my name is Fareeda. I'm a scarab beetle, the most beautiful insect in Egypt."
They all looked at each other, then at Fareeda. "You are a beautiful color, but we are each beautiful in our own way," said Aziz.
Fareeda brushed all the mud off her wings. She shrugged her shoulders and asked, "What happened anyway?"
Aziz answered, "There was a flood. All the marshes, reeds, and trees are under water. I found Wali, Taroob, and now you. Why don't you climb on top of Taroob's back and I'll swim up river. Now hold on tight. Don't let go. We'll swim along with the flow."
"I'll do just that," Fareeda the scarab beetle said. She climbed up onto Wali's shell, and made herself comfortable on Taroob's soft feathers as Aziz swam away.
A few minutes later, all four of them noticed a purple jacaranda flower floating down the river towards them. "Isn't that pretty," Taroob spoke.
They watched as it passed by. Since Fareeda was the highest, she was able to look down into it as it floated by. She saw a butterfly inside the flower. It was jumping up and down, trying to get her attention. "I think the butterfly in that flower needs a helping hand," she said.
Aziz turned quickly and swam towards it. Taroob flew down, with Fareeda still on her back, and grabbed the jacaranda flower in her beak. She then flew back, landing on Aziz's tough, scaly back. "Whee, what a ride!" Fareeda laughed.
Taroob set the flower down. Out crawled the butterfly, its long proboscis was bent in half. "Thank you for rescuing me. I got caught in the flood when I was inside the jacaranda gathering pollen." She looked at the other four animals. "My name is Ahlam. That was a terrible flood, wasn't it?" The others all nodded and said yes.
"Why don't you climb onto Fareeda's back. Now hold on tight. Don't let go. We'll swim along with the flow," Aziz warned. He looked up at the sky. The sun was beginning to set. "I'll swim around and find a place where we can rest for the night." He swished his long tail back and forth as the five swam down the river.
Ahlam climbed onto Wali's shell, stepped on Taroob's soft pink feathers, then pulled herself up onto Fareeda's shiny green back. "I'd better hold on tight," she said.
After searching for a while, Aziz found a small patch of dirt to lie on. Soon all of them were asleep. That night, the Nile's floodwaters began to ebb, and by morning the river was back to its normal level.
When the group woke up, they were surprised to see the tall grasses blowing gently in the morning breeze. The tree trunks were a little muddy, but as strong as ever. The papyrus reeds were swaying back and forth as the river water passed through them. "It's over!" Ahlam, the butterfly, called out. "I can go back to gathering pollen!" She thanked the others for helping her and fluttered off towards the jacaranda tree.
"Well, I guess its time for me to say goodbye too. Thanks for everything," Fareed, the scarab beetled called out. She wiggled her antenna and shook off her metallic green wings. "I'm off," she said, then flew away.
Taroob, the pink headed dove, spread her wings. She flapped them up and down a few times to make sure they worked. "Thanks again, Wali and Aziz. I'm off too," she called out as she flew off towards the sunrise.
That left only Wali and Aziz. "I suppose you're leaving too!" Aziz asked, looking up at the tortoise.
Wali thought about it for a few moments. "If you don't mind, Aziz, I quite like it up here on your back. The view is great, and I feel very safe. Besides that, I'm a tortoise and move rather slowly. You are a crocodile and move much faster. May I stay?"
Aziz smiled a huge crocodile smile. "Why sure you can. Hold on tight. Don't let go. We'll swim along with the flow." The crocodile, with the tortoise on his back, swam off as the sun began to shine brightly on the calm river water.
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