• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 04
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Medium rare

I had made plans. Hadn’t we all? None of us knew what would happen next. So we all prepared, according to our resources.

I knew it was time when I saw the dogs gathering on the meadows, down by the river. There was a gaggle of people watching all those the dogs. Greyhounds, whippets, terriers, black and grey and brindled, running and jumping and tumbling. I kept well clear of them. Such foolish people, trusting those animals, not realising what they will do.

Heavy clouds were rolling in from the west, the sunset reflected on their undersides, shades of copper and purple.

On the shore a night heron was waiting for fish. He saw me and snapped his beak. A warning, I realised. I crouched down at a respectful distance. He continued to watch the river. We watched together, for a while.

The sky darkened and I shivered. The heron turned his head, as if concerned. Or perhaps it was simply because my coat rustled. I chose it for practicality, the colour ‘medium rare’. A silly name probably chosen by a millennial oblivious to how it might offend some people, but it appealed to me because it’s how I like my steak, or rather used to. I enjoy the memory. As I enjoy my memories of warm summer evenings, sitting on the balcony of our house in the city sipping Chardonnay, a walking couple strolling through the park, bare-armed, their laughter drifting up through the trees. Sunsets were kinder then. As was life.

Enough. I am prepared for the rising water. That day, when I saw the dogs and the heron, turned out to be a rehearsal. The heron clearly knew. He rose without a sound, flew in a big arc into the sunset. I watched him. The mask distorts, but not so much that I can’t see. Not so much that I won’t know what’s happening. Not so much that I won’t see it all as I go.