Image by Spooky Pooka
It begins with a kindness. A skeletal deer brought in from the snow. She was kind like that, my mum. It kissed our own deer, a brief encounter, nose against nose. In a street of six houses it was my mum who brought in the skeletal stray from the snow but it was me who noticed the spots of bright red on the straw. Glass in the hoof, that’s what we thought. Drip, drip, drip. Blood from the ass, that’s what it was. This disgusting riddled deer, brought inside our barn from the snow, pissing blood from the ass. There are vaccinations for it nowadays but back then it spread like wildfire. Both deer dead in hours. What a word, “Nowadays.” It’s like a broom. Things are better Nowadays.
I remember the University. I don’t know why we went all the way out there. My mum donated the deer I guess. I was too young to be told of autopsies. We would’ve taken the bus that swung by twice a week. Five hours it would’ve been, I don’t remember any of them. I try to fill in bits that are missing but I find it’s getting harder to do. We would’ve sat quietly on the bus. We didn’t have the two dead deer with us in some bag, I’d remember that. We met our vet there. He wasn’t in his white coat. A grey suit, I remember, with a red tie. I don’t know why he was all the way out there and I don’t know why we went to meet him. I was only five. I know this because papa wasn’t gone long.
“This way,” he said. There’s comfort in direction and we followed. Down hallways, past men in shirts double-taking at my mum who was not yet old then. Through a wide courtyard, corrugated plastic for a roof, once clear, darkened with moss and bird shit and cosmic dust.
A horse was asleep on the ground. This is what I want to tell you. A Black Beauty horse. It’s hind-legs armoured with muscle, the hair on its tail fanned out across the concrete. Lying down, it was taller than me. I must’ve been so little when papa left. I was holding my mum’s hand, that’s right, so tight. A small jerk shook through the hand she took. “Don’t look!” she said.
Half a horse, that’s all there was. No mane, no face, no dark eyes to lose yourself in. Bits missing. No nightmares, no, but a quiet bothering that’s still here now.
Maybe her kindness was a cry to the street, a cry to the six houses. “See, I am a good woman! See, I am kind to animals! I am good. He was bad.” Maybe her kindness was a warning to the other wives on the street. These other wives who distanced themselves from the deserted woman. “I am good yet this happened to me. It may yet happen to you!” Maybe her kindness was a cruelty.
More Visual Verse stories by Simon Webster here