Chapter Seven

The shotgun blast ripped through Len’s soul, killing not only Lily but something deep within Len.

Len and Lou lived in a farming community, and many (if not all) of its constituents thought that Lens relationship with Lily was quite ridiculous. Pigs were raised to adorn the breakfast table or put a few quid in your wallet, not to be a pet, or God forbid, your friend.

Any intelligent person knew that a pig was incapable of love or genuine loyalty, they were just mere beasts driven by basic instincts that were good to eat. Fortunately, Len and Lily were not as intelligent as the rest of us, so weren’t aware that the unfeigned loyalty and love they had for each other was irrational.

Only when we ‘Intelligent’ people grasp this simple fact, will the rest of what happened make any sense.

It would also be prudent to remind ourselves that Bernice was not aware of her mother's letter, and had no idea that her captivity on the farm was about to come to an end.

Just on dawn, an agonised scream shattered the peace and serenity of daybreak, instantly waking everyone. Still befuddled by sleep, Henry grabbed his shotgun from under the bed and rushed outside, almost colliding with Len. Lou joined them as he stumbled out of the barn, and moments later Maude appeared. For several seconds there was was complete silence, before an even louder scream rent the air. Momentarily frozen to the spot, it was Len who snapped out of it first, running toward the source of the screams, Lily’s sty. There was just enough light to make out the form of Lily lying on her side, struggling for breath. Len crashed through the door falling to his knees beside his friend. Her mouth was covered in a white froth as she looked up pleadingly at Len, before a terrible seizure racked her body, causing her to scream with pain. Tears filled Len’s eyes as he begged for help, “Get the vet, get the vet”. Henry gently shook his head; it was obvious that Lily was beyond help. “I’ll pay, please get the vet” sobbed Len.

The agony that Lily was going through was horrific, her breathing was becoming more and more laboured, her body convulsing with wave after wave of terrible pain,

Henry knelt beside Len, gently placed his hand on his shoulder. “Come on son,” he whispered, “it’s not right to leave her like this”.

Despite his grief, Len knew his father was right. To see his friend suffer so terribly was unthinkable. He gave Lily a hug as their eyes locked for the very last time. Lou wrapped his arm around Len’s shoulders leading him back to the house.

The shotgun blast ripped through Len’s soul, killing not only Lily but something deep within Len.

Moments after the shot, Bernice appeared. She was clad in a full-length pink dressing gown, her face expressionless.

“What was that noise?” she asked, her voice flat, monotone.

“Its Lily”, said Lou softly, “she got really sick and dad had to.....” seeing his brothers agonised face he left the sentence unfinished.

Shrugging her shoulders she went back to her room, looking relieved.

Len buried Lily at the foot of the oak tree by the hay barn. Lily had become addicted to acorns, she and Len spent a lot of time in its shade. The family left Len to his grief as he spent the rest of the day carving Lily’s name on an old piece of rimu. He placed it at the head of her grave and sat beside Lily’s resting place until well after dark.

Henry and Lou were beside themselves with worry, they had never seen Len like this before and could never have imagined the terrible effect Lily’s death would have on him. Maude thought it was all quite pathetic and went and told Len to “Stop being ridiculous, and come and have some dinner”.

Len mechanically followed her inside. Unable to eat his dinner he excused himself and headed to his room. Maude giving him a contemptuous scowl as he closed the door behind him

Three days later Bernice’s parents arrived to take their daughter home. They stopped by long enough to have a quick cup of tea before making their way back to Palmerston North.

The dust cloud they left soon settled, but the gloom that Bernice’s departure had on the boys would never leave the farm.

For the next few weeks, the boys worked unenthusiastically on the farm, neither of them saying anything but a few necessary words. It was as if the air had become thick and viscous, making every movement an effort, every activity a chore.

Time heals all wounds the old saying goes (another lie!), but perhaps things would have improved over time, and life on the farm returned to some sort of normality. That is if their horse Molly hadn’t become lame. But more of that in the next blog.

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