This Is How We Do Things in the Country

Mathieu Roy

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“We don’t wait for the priest,” she said, staring straight ahead at the grassy path. “Don’t got time like that.”

“But, we can’t just leave him out in the open like that,” I protested. “If you love him, you should bury him. This isn’t fit for him. This is where your brother left his horse after it broke its leg –”

She turned to me, and I was hushed by her steely, piercing eyes. “You saying my brother didn’t love his horse?” She gripped her harness tighter.

“No, of course not. No. No,” I stammered, trying to think of a way to keep the conversation going without offending her again.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand.” Her eyes were on the road again, her grip relaxed. “You don’t got to go to the well yourself. You got your white shirts. Traveling with ink bottles and no rifle…”

That last one made me self-conscious – why did I bring my writing implements when we were just riding a day to bury her grandfather? No, not bury, but – whatever it is we’re doing out here by the trees.

“This is how we do things here,” she said after pausing to spit. “You don’t got to understand nothing. You just got to keep out of the way.”

For a few bloated minutes, we kept quiet, staring straight ahead at what seemed like an endless grassy plain, our ears filled with the muted clopping of the horses’ hooves.

Finally, I got the nerve to speak again. “Can I at least say a prayer when we bur–when we leave him by the trees?”

Her eyes met me again. There was no hardness to them this time; some weary resignation had softened them. “Of course we’re going to say a prayer. We ain’t savages.”




Photo by Kai Dörner on Unsplash