Friday, October 31, 2008


Amber pink streaks an otherwise featureless sky, and the air is still as he sneaks from the farmhouse. His family slumber inside, and he aches with guilt.  He can afford no other option. His little girl’s new red bike rests against the Ute and he quietly shifts it; props it against the side of the barn. The Ute is packed with the things he will need, and he climbs in and begins the journey he has dreaded all week.He worries his daughter will wake, so he rolls the Ute as far as possible before starting the engine.

 He reaches the nearby paddock where a pony is tied to the fence; the two-minute drive not enough time to come to terms with it all. The pony is lame. From where he parks, he sees the creature is still greatly distressed. He gathers his things, opens the paddock gate and continues on foot. He approaches her, pats her as his tears fall for her and his daughter. In this final hour, he tries to think of a better way but the damage is too far-gone. Oblivious to everything else, he lifts the rifle in his arms and is a long while summoning courage.

 A single shot rings out and birds scatter from trees. The pony drops to the ground. The animal’s suffering begins to abate. As he turns, he is confronted by the shocking stare of his daughter who straddles the new red bike he has only just bought her - a pre-empted bribe for this act he knew he would eventually undertake. His ears ring from the shot and his heart breaks from the look in her eyes. She steps from the bike, lets it fall to the ground like the pony. He sees tears track silently down her pretty face, and hears the pony's shuddering breath one last time. She stares at him, wide eyed, sobbing, unable to move. The wheels on her bike slowly spin and eventually stop. He watches his daughter wipe at her tears and then turn and walk away.


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