All right. So I’m not alone. A raccoon in the middle of the road. Just like that. From nowhere, going nowhere. They used to steal the chicken eggs, but they’ve moved on. Where there is no water, there is no place to forage. Where there is a ready shotgun, there is nothing for them to eat. So they have moved on.
There has been no road traffic for days. There’s nowhere to go, other than weekly trips for groceries. The corn is dry, though edible. These fellows don’t care. It’s not like spoiled meat. They can chew and consume, and sleep under the folds of the brown leaves. But here. A dead raccoon. Perfectly framed like a photograph, set down as a reminder. There used to be life here.
He is sitting. His hind end is flattened, squashed in a dirty red lump, but his paws are tucked under his face. Contemplative and serious. Assessing the worth of his life. Wondering where to go next, if there is a next.
And so I stand here at the side of the road and stare at him. Is this what we are, how we finish up? Am I grieving for him? I think I am. I hear the rustle of the corn, the soft gritty voice of a hot wind. I can’t stop looking at him. He is perfect from the throat up, other than being dead. Finally, finally, I look away, and look ahead, and I can see my home, maybe a mile away. The grief wants me to stay, but my feet move anyway. I move on.
Home, where I can rest and grieve proper.