I awoke to a bang in the night and a chorus of dogs. The horse had had it. Except it didn’t happen that way. Ebanoe had passed away peacefully in the night after a short term illness. No gun was needed.
Anna wanted to spare him the indecent and undeserved ending of being hoisted into the air by one leg then being chucked into the back of a lorry containing an unknown number of bodies. The correct manner in which the bodies of farm animals are removed in Catalonia.
He stays on the farm.
She was adamant, Frank as usual, was unhelpful.
You pick where he goes.
Big stones, bushes, hard ground. We began to dig.
I’m going to jump off a cliff.
Anna was devising ways that she could spare her family funeral costs.
…or take a cruise and jump overboard.
Crouching on the ground with a spade in hand, teasing the top soil off a giant hole that needed to be dug, Anna kept talking to distract us from what seemed an enormous task, digging a hole in the spot Frank had found.
Whose grave are we digging here?
She insisted on joking as the hole painfully stretched another half metre.
Hold your horses we’re not done yet.
Of course we laughed.
As the branches got hacked, the stones tossed and the soil excavated, the jokes continued. What else could she do? Thomas, Inid and I joined in whole heartedly. What else could we do? We were digging a grave for Ebanoe. This duty had not been listed on the farm’s HelpX advert but we were there doing it without being asked twice. The determined jokes could not hide this trembling woman nor the beautiful horse whose snorts and whinny had been heard amongst the other horses through the trees and out onto the cliffs. As the ground got cleared off bushes and stones and the hole eked itself bigger, we became experts on death puns. Strangely it felt like a good day….maybe not for Anna.
The next morning through my window I couldn’t see the cliffs. Behind the trees only emptiness. Outside, still lying in the exercise ring, Ebanoe’s back leg had risen about one metre in the air with the other levitated about thirty cm off the ground. Some sort of liquid had oozed and dried onto the ground. Both penis and belly had inflated. Flies buzzed and the black plastic covering his head was not stopping Maria nuzzling underneath to try and clench her teeth around the leathery skin of his nostrils. The temptation had gotten too much for her and her unborn pups. By 10am the clouds and mist cleared up. It was going to be a lovely day for a funeral. A family friend came with his digger and picked up the corpse like a child playing with a My Little Pony. As the tractor rolled up the hill the plastic came off the head so we could all say goodbye.
He made it in. Head, legs, feet everything. By the time Inid and I wandered up the hill to the grave, Frank and Thomas were finishing throwing soil over the giant hole. The alive horses had needed attention. Here by the hole, we all held the satisfaction of success. We had succeeded through the big stones, bushes and hard ground to dig a giant hole. It was Frank who succeeded in our success. When finally he had sauntered up the hill late morning he had brought a giant pole. Together with Thomas, they pounded their way through the earth breaking it up. Now with sore hands they covered the last of Ebanoe while Inid and I regathered the tossed stones to put on top of the mound. Ebanoe had been good with children and strangers. I was glad as we placed the David and Goliath stone as his headstone. The stone that caused Frank and Victor the biggest battle. Ebanoe’s battle was lost, ours won, he was here still on the farm with the children, three strangers and Anna who later went up to the grave with a flower.