We washed our hands in the river where Clay went down. Pony put her wet hands to her black streaked cheeks. The very ends of her hair dangled in the rush of what was left. Only water. She was upset. While her eyes dripped farewells into the river I got-a-long with cutting our names out from the tree. I asked her how long she thought it might take to wash away all the soil that surrounded us. She couldn't understand what I had said. I thought I had gone insane.
`I'm not sure,' she replied.
`My tongue feels broken.'
The rabbits ate that night where Clay bled. Their soft paws dirty with death. She asked me to hold her, `I don't want them to get the taste for it.'
I stroked her neck and told her that they wouldn't, but the thought still haunts my skin. Up there, in the mountain, something ended. For the first time. Pieces of us went with him. My smile slipped into the river.
I walked the ten-mile trip to her house and sat in her garden. She came out, bare footed, and asked me to leave. I took her hand and pleaded with her but she wouldn't listen. `Pony, please.' I cursed that name. Pony. She snatched her hand away from me and wood-chips filled my lungs. She gasped and told me to leave her as I dragged her to her knees. She cried as I pulled her hair and she wept three words, `He loved you.'
And I came.
She wears gumboots and won't tie her hair up. She won't expose her neck and she smells danker now, like earth dug up. I remember; she was always sitting next to Clay while I was always carving something into a log.
Last week I sat on her bed. She kept one hand over her mouth and the other on her belly. She showed me a picture of her that I had taken before Clay fell. She was standing, composed and gentle, flat footed and honest, a pony by the banks and she was staring at him with a look she's never given me.