Pretty banged up and grubby, yes, but they returned alive. Georgia was in a fit of tears and laughter when Queenie and Kennedy came back. I had asked where the horse was. They all just gave me a look.
I cleaned their cuts and applied some bandages. There were some fun, colourful Band-Aids that I used for Kennedy (who seemed rather unappreciative of my sense of humour), but she wasn’t in too much of a bad shape.
Queenie, on the other hand, was quite the opposite. I got the First Aid Kit I had gifted to her to fix her up. She had some bad gashes along her wrists, which I had to cut open in order to pull out all the splinters and bits of metal. I began to wonder if I had any tetanus shots left. I didn’t think so. Queenie’s ribs were bruised and two of them were broken. I asked her to lie down until I could find her a shift to wear so that breathing wouldn’t become such a burden.
Asa came in to see her. They sat chatting for a while, before the rest of her sisters and cousins burst into the room, and crowded round to greet her and have her tell her tale.
I’d let them get on with it.
Kennedy had come after me and said, “Is it true?”
I looked at her, “Is what true?” I squatted down to pat her head.
“Is it true you’re leaving, Aunt Midnight? That’s what Des told me.”
I paused, “I haven’t decided yet.”
“If you go, will you take me?”
I scoffed at the remark, “I’ll consider it.”
“Will you miss me?”
“Of course I will.”
I laughed, “Yes, Kenny, yes!”
She looked at me with a hint of curiosity, tilting her head to a side, “Why?”
“Why would you miss me?”
I furrowed my brows, “Why wouldn’t I miss you, Kenny?” I said slowly.
“Aunt Midnight,” she said, frustrated, “asking a question to answer a question isn’t answering the question!”
“You’re talking to one of the few people who can follow that train of thought,” I said, and then paused, “I’ll miss you because you’re very special to me.”
“Speciality can’t be measured.”
“Yes, it can.”
“I don’t know, but you probably do.”
“You know everything, Aunt Midnight.”
“Flattery will do you no favours, Kenny.”
“Flattery is… to over-praise someone. Over-estimate them, like.”
“I shouldn’t do that?”
“Because it’s a form of lying.”
“But I wasn’t lying.”
“I don’t know everything, Kenny.”
“Now you’re lying.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I–” I shook my head, putting a hand to my temple, “This, Kenny. This is why I will miss you.”
“Hmm? I don’t get it.”
“Think about it.”
“No, tell me!”
“I can’t, I have a headache,” I said, straightening a Band-Aid on Kennedy’s face with my thumb. I stood up, “No more questions, alright, Kenny?”
She nodded and I turned to go.
I paused and sighed.
“Please don’t go.”
I didn’t respond and kept walking.