I saw a fox. He ran down my street, lit up by orange lamp light. I kept expecting him to duck into a drive way, or under a car but he didn’t. I tutted and clicked my fingers. He stopped, right in the middle of the road. We both waited in silence. He turned to look at me, and then continued on his way.
‘I saw a fox,’ I told Ryan when I saw him the next day. Ryan is tall and has ginger hair. When ginger people are attractive they’re two times hotter than your average guy, because they’re doing it against all odds. This was my third time seeing him.
‘On my street, last night. I was smoking out of my window and I thought it was a big cat but it was a fox. I’ve never seen a fox before.’
‘Well, not in person.’
‘I think I’m going to get back with Jess.’
‘What does that have to do with foxes?’
He put his wine glass on the table. I don’t really like it when men drink wine. I wasn’t sure what to say next, and clearly he wasn’t either. It was like the moment the bacon falls out of the sandwich as you’re eating it and dangles between your teeth. Then you have to decide whether to eat it or let it fall onto the plate.
‘I saw her the other night and we talked some stuff out. We’re going to try again.’
I picked up my wine glass. I could see he was tense. The tattoo on his neck expanded with each breath. I chose to let the bacon fall.
‘That’s okay,’ I said. ‘Shall we finish these drinks or should we just leave it at that?’
‘Let’s finish these drinks. It will be a nice goodbye.’
‘We’ve been on three dates. I don’t need a nice goodbye.’ I downed my wine, and waved the empty glass. ‘Finished.’
I put my coat on and left. I heard him mutter something as I walked away. He was a good guy I guess. Better than some of the other men I’ve dated. He was always on time, and often offered to pay for things. Sure he had his faults, like seeing his ex-girlfriend while he was dating me, but nobody’s perfect.
I took the bus to mine and watched houses pass. Wondering where the fox had ended up last night.
I got off a little further from home than I normally do. I lit a fag and kept my eyes peeled for the him. Hoping he’d made these few streets his home. Maybe, as a neighbourhood we could adopt him? Like hospitals do with dogs whose owners died.
I didn’t see him on the first street. I didn’t see him on the second either. But on the third, there he was. His stomach open, and the back half of him crushed. Under the weight of a tyre I imagine. His eyes were closed but his tongue was out, pink and limp. His tail was still fluffy.
Well, he’s had a worse day than me, I thought.
I ran the rest of the way home. I unlocked my door as the saliva and metallic taste in my mouth reached its peak. I scrambled to my cupboard under the stairs, and pushed aside the hoover and the toolbox to find a small shovel. The one my dad told me I might need at some day.
I took a second to catch my breath before running again. Back to the fox. I ran like a child, legs shaking, feeling like you’ll never stop.
He was still there when I got back. I looked at his little face, and wondered how long it had taken him to die. Did the car hit him and he died instantly? Was he attacked by another animal, and then crushed by the car as he tried to drag himself away. There was a large gash in his stomach which meant something must have gotten at him.
I scraped him onto the shovel. Parts of him stayed on the road, but the majority was on on the shovel. I carried him back to my house. The poor thing. He’d looked so carefree last night. Maybe that was his problem. He didn’t care, and it ultimately it made him road kill.
I left his body on the concrete part of my yard. It was a small yard, with one flowerbed that was raised slightly and surrounded by bricks. My dad always said I should do something with it and now I was. It would become a fox’s grave.
After I buried him I took a piece of loose concrete and made a small grave stone. I used a smaller stone to write on it. R.I.P Fox, beloved animal, died 1stFeb 2016. I lit a fag, and sat on the brick that surrounded the new grave. If only whoever hit him hadn’t been going as fast? If only Ryan had decided that his ex was the one for him before he broke up with her and asked me out?
‘If only people were a little nicer to each other,’ I said, tapping the ash to the floor and patting the new grave with my free hand.
‘What Does That Have to Do With Foxes?’ orginally appeared in In The Red 14, printed in 2016.