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Today was a strange day

January 23, 2016

I cut briars, under the impression they were rosehips, imagining I was Sleeping Beauty’s prince, trying to put a good face on it, in the cold, under the rain.

I sat in a ranger on the way there, clinging on for dear life, seeing myself hurtle through the half windscreen if I didn’t, enjoying myself all the while. Finding the seatbelts after.

I saw a blind mousedeer today; it couldn’t see us, couldn’t tell whether we were friend or foe. Its eyes were covered in white, it cocked its head trying to understand engine hum. It leapt unseeing into the thicket, entangling itself. It bounded out just as Stéphane made a grab. Stéphane said something in french about food, and eating. Nourrir, et mange. The cloudy eyed mousedeer fled to the pond, tried to come back out, heard human noises, swam back in. It couldn’t swim; its head was always cocked to one side, trying to navigate to safety with soundwaves.

We 4WDed back to the house to grab oars, then roared back to the animal. It was still there, still swimming in distressed circles, head still cocked to one side. It must have only heard its own splashes, all that time. 

Stéphane pulled his boat out from the undergrowth, Ben helping reluctantly. My boots weren’t high enough so I stayed by the waterline. The mousedeer went belly up once, then twice. I saw four legs sticking out of the water, up in the air, and thought it cruelly unglamorous for so delicate a creature.

Stéphane hooked his oar under its head and pulled it into the boat. They brought it back to shore. Ben semi-whispered that it was dead. I didn’t know whether that was good or bad for consumption. I also wasn’t very sure of my thoughts.

Dominique met us back at the house, where the drowned mousedeer was now hanging, strung up by its hooves. Stéphane cut its head off. I watched and so did Ben. Their cat and dog came round. Stéphane said they were looking forward to the mousedeer, but the cat left the scene. Some blood fell to the floor.

Stéphane deskinned it next. It came off so easily, exactly like a person pulling his sweater off his head. I thought that was how I looked every day in the bathroom.

The organs were next. They filled all the cavity of the mousedeer. I had not known organs take up so much space. I found myself wondering if my insides are like that, too. The stomach was fed to the chickens. Later on, I was told they had devoured all of it. Every single bit, I was assured. And that stomach would one day be transformed into an egg, he suggested. I tried to say I certainly had never thought of it that way.

Dominique gave me some instructions in french but changed her mind when she saw I was shivering. I had been wet since the morning, working in the woods. She bade me go into the warmth, and gave permission for a shower. I escaped gratefully to a hot bath. The liver was on the chopping board and the lungs boiling, when I returned. This was to prevent le chien et chat from consuming parasites, apparently. I noted that the scum was black.

Today I also cycled to an abbey, and bought a chocolate with champagne and felt light headed after. Who knew little old nuns sell chocolate with champagne. I also had a homemade (abbeymade?) lavender sachet, but writing this makes me realise I don’t know where it is. I must have left it at the abbey’s shop. sigh.

I learnt to toss crêpes tonight, and have determined to buy me two crêpières in février. Anti-adhesive is necessary to be written, Dominique said. I will remember. Tomorrow I take leave of this home in possibly forever.

Meanwhile, Christians in Syria die for their faith, and a Greek poem translated narrates a call which informs the recipient’s family they have 58 seconds before their house is bombed, a courtesy call. No time for their son’s favorite blanket, daughter’s almost completed college applications, their shoes. Just run.

Then there are articles on the best 10 ban mian in Singapore, and why Yishun is worth checking out (food). I also have a thorn’s tip wedged into the cells of my sole, too fine for my fingers too large for my nerves. I discovered during lunch that my supposed rose brambles are actually a sort of blackberry that is troublesome to make jam because of the difficulty in obtaining and then the fuss of extracting pips. The stalks had been really tall, though. Often high above my head and large, long thorns all around. My work clothes have tears and there is dried blood on the back of my ankle.

A cloudy eyed mousedeer died today. Today is a strange day.

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