Once upon a time, I was sitting on a tree watching ladybirds crawling on the branch beside mine, oblivious to my gaze. A similar story was with a couple of caterpillars who were munching holes in the leaves which were already submitting to autumn’s approach. Thus, I felt no pity for the tarnished beauty of the leaves.
The sunlight of the sinking sun warmed my back but I continued to sit on the firm branch, swinging my legs aimlessly, and waiting. She had to come today, she had promised. And just when I was going to jump down from the tree to give up and to go on hunt for tonight’s dinner, I saw her appear, in a cerise dress, breathless. I gave her a shout from up the tree, when she squinted her hazel eyes in confusion at my absence.
We both stared at each other and smiled, forgetting yesterday’s quarrel. I unwrapped my greasy newspaper packet and produced a roasted rabbit which I had caught just in the morning today. But to my utter astonishment she refused my offer. I didn’t remember a single day when she would have not grabbed my offer and gobble it as if, if she had waited, it would have disappeared. I even had two tomatoes with it today. Today had been a good day for me, a rabbit easily hunted down and a couple of fresh tomatoes inside someone’s picnic bag.
It was ironic, how she lived in a mansion at the riverside-which thrived with minnows- had designer dresses and a real bed, didn’t had enough to eat because of a father who thought girls should eat less or if gotten plump, wouldn’t have any respectable suitors approaching them. ‘Respectable ladies should be as thin as the rake in my garden shed,’ used to croak the old man of hers, ‘Especially ladies who live under my roof!’
While I, lived under the stars, on the bed of heather of the endless meadows, had plenty to eat due to the plethora of rabbits and if lucky, a deer sometimes. And thus, this was the unspoken deal of ours; she lending me her old clothes-looked quite new to me-and me sharing my daily hunt with her.
‘Rover hasn’t returned from his last night’s walk yet,’ I told her worriedly. Rover was the black spaniel who I had rescued from the river, during the last monsoon season.
‘Oh… um, maybe he just wandered afar somewhere, he likes to do that, besides the meadows are endless…’ she continued to drone on even though she had never liked Rover but she seemed nervous.
‘Probably,’ I replied, ‘why didn’t you want to eat the rabbit? Have you started to believe in your father’s philosophy? ‘
‘No, I just don’t feel hungry anymore.’
That was unusual, but I didn’t interrogated her. If she would want to tell, she would spill out the beans herself without me pushing her. Besides, her loss of appetite was saving me the trouble of hunting for night as well, so why persuade?
‘Okay, then if you don’t want to have your meal, the let’s search Rover,’ I replied why dusting myself.
Reluctantly she followed me, with an uncomprehending expression on her face. I soon exhausted my lungs after shouting his name for so long and sat down, as a sign of giving up.
‘Sarah, you won’t find him,’ she timidly broke the silence.
‘Why?’ I asked. I felt my stomach sinking.
‘Because my father shot him last night, for he kept on barking under his window. We sisters, desperate with hunger cooked his brains when Father went back to sleep. I am sorry.’ She explained and with a trembling lip she ran away to her dark mansion where an old man smoked his tobacco pipe, while I stood under the setting sun, staring at friendship broken and realizing that the only creature who loved me the most, had his brains in my best friend’s stomach.