A while after lunch, Major, and I go out to hunt. We go out to the woods before it starts to get dark. We wait at the edge of a small clearing with a creek inside of it. We wait for an animal to enter the clearing for about 15 minutes before we see a small eight-point buck walk into the clearing. He lowers his head to take a drink and Major moves around to one side and I go to the other. I crouch farther away from the buck and I can see Major stalking the deer, slowly getting closer. The grass around the deer is short and trampled, the grass Major and I are in is slightly taller, tall enough to hide me and my knees and Major standing up straight. I move slightly closer and pick up a twig and I watch as Major stands perfectly still. I break the twig hoping to make the buck go towards Major, it works. He begins bounding in Major’s direction. As he gets within attacking distance, Major launches himself towards the deers jugular, biting down on it, almost breaking his windpipe instantly. I rush over and take out my knife, stabbing it in the heart. The deer squirms slightly but quickly takes his last breath. I take my knife and take off the antlers. I remove his neck and head from the body, starting at what would be the collar bone of a human. I quickly dig a hole and bury the head and neck. I pick up the body and put it over my shoulders, and the deer weighs maybe 50 pounds. The walk back to the Colony is about five minutes with no extra weight, if I go quickly I can make it back in about eight or nine.
Once I make it back to the Colony, the gate opens for me and I take my deer over to the butcher guy that Aaron introduced me to earlier.
“Hey, it’s Kal right?” I ask politely.
“Yeah, Amara?” He responds.
“Yeah, can I convince you to butcher a deer for me?” I ask hopefully.
“Sure, what do I get in return,” He questions curiously.
“A portion of the meat?” I suggest not really sure what to give him in return.
“If you have any alcohol I’ll take a bottle of whatever as well?” He proposes.
“Deal, scotch okay?” I ask, clarifying.
“Sure, the deer will be done by morning,” He says lifting the deer inside his trailer.
“Thank you!” I turn around and go back over to the tent to clean off my knife. As soon as Major goes inside, he lays down. I grab out my moonshine and pour it on the blade, wiping off the liquor and blood. I zip the tent up and leave Major to sleep.
I walk back out and go over to the food area, grabbing an apple. I take my knife and carve a piece off, putting it into my mouth. I walk over to the horse area and as soon as Bandit sees me walking towards him he makes his way to the fence. I carve off another piece of apple and hold it out, giving it to Bandit.
“Hi buddy, you don’t have a mean streak, do you? You’re just misunderstood. I know how that feels,” I say continuing to carve pieces out of the apple putting pieces in my mouth occasionally and giving the other pieces to Bandit. Suddenly, Aaron comes up behind me and leans against the fence.
“You know, he really does seem to like you. We should go riding sometime,” Aaron proposes.
“Yeah he does seem to like me, but I’ve only been on a horse once and it was a pony when I was six,” I say laughing, continuing to stroke Bandit’s nose.
“Oh come on, if anyone is going to be able to ride him, it’s you,” He says nudging me with his elbow.
“I don’t know, it’s just been so long. I mean the only reason I rode the thing was because-” My mouth stops moving. My brain flashes back to Katie’s 7th birthday.
“Mommy, come on we’re going to be late!” I shouted from the bottom of the stairs, slipping on my light-up tennis shoes.
“I’m coming honey, I had to finish wrapping Katie’s present,” She replied, walking into the entryway, slipping on her flats.
We walked out the door and I climbed in the back seat of the truck. We drove the five minutes to Katie’s house for her 7th birthday. Katie had a big house and a big yard, she had a pony named Pluto that her mom set up as a pony ride. We pulled up and in the front yard she had a bouncy house, a petting zoo and Pluto was being led around by Auntie Rose with another kid on it.
As soon as mom pulled into her spot and stopped the car, I unbuckled my seatbelt and ran. “Katie Katie!” I shouted in excitement.
“Amara! Come on let’s go ride Pluto!” Katie replied hugging me, then dragging me off towards Pluto.
We waited for the other little girl to get finished and finally had our turns, “You can go first Amara!” Katie said letting me go in front of her.
“Okay, he isn’t going to be mean is he?” I asked nervously.
“No, he’s a nice pony,” She said giggling.
“Okay, if you say so,” I said grabbing the helmet from Rose and clipping it on my head.
“Amara, you okay?” Aaron asks, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“Huh?” I blurt, turning my head in confusion.
“You just kind of froze, is everything okay?” He questions concerningly.
“Yeah I’m fine, I was just thinking,” I say stepping down off of the fence.
“Want to talk about it?” Aaron asks softly.
“Maybe another time, I’m really tired,” I reply, a tear forming in the corner of my eye.
“No worries, I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Aaron says watching me as I walk away. I walk back to my tent and I see Rayla inside.
“Mar? What’s wrong?” She asks standing up giving me a hug.
“Nothing, I was just talking to Aaron about Bandit and the other horses and then I started thinking about Katie’s birthday where she had the pony rides on Pluto, and I just needed to get away from him before I embarrassed myself,” I say wiping the stray tears off of my face.
“Hey, I know you miss her, but you have to move on. When you aren’t focused on the here and now that means you’re not focused on the world around you,” Rayla says continuing to hug me.
“I know, I know, it’s just hard,” I say removing myself from the hug, “Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let’s go and get some dinner,” I say wiping my face.
“Mar, it’s okay to miss her, she was a big part of your life,” Rayla says looking over at me in concern.
“Let’s just not talk about it,” I say kneeling down towards Major, “Major, come on bud we’re gonna go and eat.”
Major lifts his head and slowly stands up, stretching his back and then coming to follow me.
We go out and grab a plate of food, it’s corn, venison, and potatoes. We walk over and sit down at an empty set of tables and I give Major the pieces of Venison.
“Hey ladies, mind if we sit with you?” Isaac questions, walking up to us with Aaron.
“Yeah sure,” I reply, stabbing a potato with my fork and putting it in my mouth.
After the two of them sit, Isaac leans over the table slightly and quietly asks, “Hey so tonight some of the other kids and us two are going to stay out past curfew and meet in my tent to hang out. Want to join in?”
“I don’t know, Rayla and I are brand new here and I don’t want to do anything to wreck our chances of staying here,” I say giving Major a piece of potato.
“Come on Mar, when have you ever passed up a chance to stay out after curfew?” Rayla asks looking over at me in surprise.
“Never, but it’s like I said, I don’t want to risk getting kicked out,” I say after finishing my food.
Rayla stands up from the table and leads me away, “Mar, Isaac seems like he really wants us to go, and Aaron has been checking you out for a while. Plus this would be a great way for you and him to become ‘closer’ if you know what I mean.”
“Don’t start that, you know I can’t be with anyone right now,” I whisper, slightly irritated.
“All I’m saying is that it wouldn’t hurt for you to get to know him better,” She says shrugging, walking back to the table.
“Major come,” I say, beginning to walk away.
“Mar, where are you going?” Rayla questions confused.
“For a walk,” I reply walking towards the gate.
“But it’s getting dark, and it gets cold at night,” Isaac comments, trying to convince me to stay.
“I’ll be fine,” I reply, walking further away.
The gate opens for me and Major and we begin to walk down the driveway and turn down the road.