The Leash

There is a small space between the barbed wire, and a bend in the gate where she hoists herself over. The power lines sew the soft landscape together with a slight buzz, kookaburras stitched in at intervals scoping the ground for a lizard. A single VB bottle floats in the weir. The sky is clear but for the occasional cloud and the ground has seen a little rain. She lives for walks like this. Following the fence along the paddock, she is unprepared for the corral bearded with discarded wire at the top of the hill. A low rumble makes its way through the trees. In the corral bones outline a cow. The horses are so thin they could be wind. The farmer has gone to Europe for the winter, his son owns a house in the next town. Last Christmas he left his wife for the bottle, and has never been the same. He shot his neighbour’s dog for trespassing. Neither have seen the bush-lined house for more than a month. Or seen the goat on the ground, chained to the fence, scraping the dirt with legs too weak to get up. The rumble grows louder. Beside the corral there is an open paddock, thick with weeds and patches of grass. The bush beyond is dense and open to the road. The gate is chained shut. She pulls and twists at the chains as the son’s truck skids to a stop. She pulls the gate open just enough. The horses pass at a trot. A shout comes out of the truck. She turns and catches her jeans on a coil of barbed wire. The son walks to the back of the truck. She frees herself and runs for the bush. The son takes his disfigured Rottweiler off its leash.

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