Last Journey

The buffalo won’t move.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  My companion and friend through the long walks to and back from town seems to have given up on me.  I pat him on the back hoping he will start moving again, he snorts loudly, feet stuck fast to the ground, shaking his head in defiance.  I sit down by the side of the road facing him, his big round eyes looking everywhere but at me.

“What have a I done today for you to do this? I treat you well, better than all of my other animals and you behave like this.”

Another shake of his head, another snort.

“Maybe it’s too hot for you.  I have no water until we reach the town, it’s only another couple of miles away.”

No reaction, not even a snort of acknowledgement.  I sigh as I look out across the fields, heavy rain clouds in the distance gathering.  The rain doesn’t bother me, but my grain will get wet.

“Do you remember the time we got lost?  I tried to take us on a shortcut but we ended up further and further away from town.  You kept walking that day!  Even when you got stuck in the muddy path, you still kept going.  When we made it to town I even bought you some hay.”

He takes a small step forward, then puts the same foot back.  A reaction at least.  The clouds are coming closer, looking angrier, dark and angry.  The buffalo takes a look towards them then a look back at me.

“Oh, so you know!  What is it that you want?  For years I’ve looked after you, I give you shelter at night, I feed you well, even my children love you.  I’ve never hit you, and now you’re doing this to me!  If we don’t go soon we might as well just go back, but we can’t go back either because you’re not moving.”

A tear rolls down from those round eyes, his head now bowed.  Looking at him I realise that he’s old.  I’d forgotten that he wouldn’t stay young forever.  My friend and companion was struggling and I hadn’t noticed or helped him.  The clouds are almost upon us, the rain now visible as it falls on the fields not far away.

“I’m sorry.  I thought you’d stay young forever, I didn’t think the day would come when you couldn’t do it anymore.  I work those fields and then take you to town, you’re the only person who listens to me, you keep me company on these lonely journeys.  I’ve been selfish, this will be the last time.”

I pat him on the neck and he nuzzles my chest.  He steps forward again, one foot after the other, continuing on our way.  The rain no longer concerns me, if it gets wet it gets wet, I just want to savour my last journey with my good friend.


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