The Wandering Rose – Please Don’t Kill Me

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Audrey Rose loved wandering from afternoon into evening past night. She watched colors fade, turn to shadow, everything a shade of grey. One of these evenings where she was entranced by the clouds lying low over the town, caught up in thought, sunset, fragrance and the last sparkles of day, she made her way into the Sanctuary where rocks cupped her body and creatures only acknowledged her presence in passing. She headed to her favorite rock, the one that held her form through heartache and happiness, the one where she could rest her head and her heart and feel safe. The rock was as much of a mother as she had ever had. By the time she reached her rock, the only way to discern life was through movement. Something was moving near her rock. She saw the tail and a nose pointing, sniffing. Approaching, she realized it was a fox, intent on a shape on top of the rock. Audrey Rose crept close until she was almost face to face with a raven. The fox flashed teeth, grabbed the bird. Audrey Rose yelled at the fox to drop it, not expecting it would, but it did. She was already mid-step and when her foot came down, landing on downy feathers. Rib cage crushed, the bird let out one last squawk and died. She could not see its eyes. The fox, confused by the commotion, disappeared into the night, leaving Audrey Rose with a warm, lifeless body.

She cradled the body in her hands, felt the feathers of the young. With tears running down her face, she tried to wish life back into this body that died for no purpose. She held the chick until she heard cawing above her. The raven’s parents swooped down, making it clear they wanted their baby left alone. Audrey Rose carefully placed the body at the base of the tree and curled up on her rock to sit vigil with the ravens. The cawed and clucked the entire night, flying down occasionally to nudge the body, ensuring it was really gone.

Through their caws Audrey Rose remembered other animals she had killed. Accidental ones like ants and worms that seemed somewhat insignificant. There was the slug she had poured salt on as a child to see what would happen, death being an abstract then. Seeing the suffering she had tried to scrape the salt off, but the damage was done so she poured more salt on to try to end the suffering. Death came when death came. She thought of the creatures she had killed for food, the squirrels, the deer. She had thought those killings justified, despite the final look in each creature’s eyes that said Please don’t kill me. She had only cried over the first elk, after that it was somehow easier. She wondered why this life, the life of a bird was so important when she didn’t cry over deaths much more horrific than this. What was death? Did one life matter in a sea of billions? There were millions of ravens in the world, but this one had become tied to her. Audrey Rose knew that no matter how old she grew, this raven would live in her heart.

She knew that the killings she had chosen for food were done so with grave intent, never thinking that taking a life was an easy thing or anything to be done lightly. To take a life means resolving in your heart that this life is somehow crucial to your own survival either now or in the afterlife, that Audrey Rose’s needs were larger at that time than those of the animals without ever giving her prey voice. Despite loving every part of each animal she had taken, she had still taken them for selfish reasons and she still had to look in their eyes and hear that silent cry Please don’t kill me.

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