24th December 2018

The sound was alien to her. Alien, but natural. It was the sound of fear. The sound of dying. Not that she knew that it was, in fact, dying; but she knew it didn’t sound good. It stared at her as it lay there spasming. Its black eyes filled with the abyss.

She was shaking too, trapped in its stare. A car sped past, its lights fading into the night. A diagnosis was needed. A decision. A verdict. She considered driving home; thought of her bed. But — that wasn’t right. Was it? She knew what was expected. She knew she had to take responsibility. She had to end its suffering. That was the civilised thing to do. The humane thing. If the roles were reversed, and the deer was standing over her, she’d want the same. Right? She’d never killed anything before. Not really. She’d set mouse traps and swatted insects, but that was different. Wasn’t it? This was basically her size. It felt more. Probably. That meant something. It had to. She looked around for a rock. But even if she found one big enough she’d hardly be able to lift it. She had some tools in the car…

She stood over the animal, wrench in hand. She wondered if she’d eaten deer before. If she’d eaten it she should be able to kill it, right? She’d certainly eaten other things — other animals — and if she was content to eat meat, but not to kill for it, that was hypocrisy. Wasn’t it? She raised the tool over her head. Such a beautiful animal. One deft blow should do it.

*           *           *

One deft blow hadn’t done it. She noticed her blood flecked sleeve as she turned the key to her apartment. Oliver was waiting, circling under her legs before running to his empty bowl. The smell made her gag slightly as she opened the tin, Oliver diving in head first before she could finish forking the food out. The eyes came back to her. She had done what needed doing. Though traumatic, she was sure that if she had not, it would have haunted her the rest of her life. This she could move past. It was almost a formative experience. She’d taken control of the situation. For herself and the deer.

She threw some chicken fingers in the oven and fell back on the couch, Oliver curling up in her lap, vibrating beneath her hand. A documentary was starting on the TV. It was about the horrors of trophy hunting. She wondered how anybody could see it as sport. A poacher posed next to a dead zebra. Its eyes stared back at her. Oliver stopped purring. She looked down at her bloodied shirt. She was suddenly hit with the profound sense that it all meant something — everything in that instant. She teetered on the edge of the epiphany, allowing herself to fall towards it; ready to submit to a higher knowledge; to embrace a new understanding — and then the oven alarm went off.