Golden Kangaroo

We hated the road even before they made it, but there was nothing we could do. A big shot in the city decided the track we had wasn’t good enough so the graders and steamrollers came leaving the scars of progress behind in a stinking black oil slick that cut through my fields.

It was a long time before we learned to live with the rush and roar of the late night trucks. The house always shook when a particularly heavy load went past and plaster would fall from the ceiling into our breakfast, or into our eyes. We sometimes saw them with little red kangaroos painted on their doors, like the fighter pilots in the war, proud of their kills.

The garden was never the same. The flowers didn’t like the fumes any more than we did, and our kitten was roadkill before it was a cat. That should’ve been a warning, and it was, though we didn’t see it that clearly at the time. We kept the critters indoors after that. We should’ve done the same for the kids.

“Go out and play,” we said, “but keep away from the road.” And they did, usually. But a garden is no place to learn to ride a bike, so our son went out on the road. The first we knew of it was our daughter’s screams and we thought, “Just another fight,” but it wasn’t.

We went out and found his bike — squashed flat, wheels bent at odd angles, handlebars turned all about — almost unrecognisable.

The police never caught the trucker that did it.

I often wonder whether, if he saw our son at all, it was as a little golden-haired boy on a bicycle, or as a golden kangaroo to mark that special roadkill.

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