Toby wished he didn’t have to do this. There was a sense of pride in having to step up and provide for his momma, but it was times like this especially, and when he lay down at night, that Toby wished Dad were here.
The poor animal wailed and moaned as its blood pumped out of the wound in its neck. He hadn’t meant for it to be painful. They just needed to eat. He put the bow away as he made his way towards the deer. It was a foal, a child like him. Where was its pa?
“Shhh…”, he cried, “I’m so sorry.” Toby spoke to the deer tenderly. It was with near hysteria that he repeated the refrain “sorry. I’m so sorry” until his heart burned within him and he was overcome.
“Why?!” he demanded, yelling into the empty woods until his throat burned raw. It had finally hit him… that he was alone. Mom was still here, but he had to be strong for her. Toby had no one in the world to be strong for him now. Why did things have to be this way? Why was this deer out alone? Why had they both been abandoned, easy prey for this world, Toby’s tortured mind demanded to know, as he wept over this dying creature. He and momma had to eat, and he knew it would be hard, but not like this. Why couldn’t it have been an easy kill, noiseless?
He saw no hope of comfort for himself, but offered to the deer as much as he could muster, drawing his knife from his belt to put an end to its suffering.
“Shhh. It’ll be over soon. Shhh…”, putting his tiny hands over its eyes, just like dad had done, Toby made the cut that brought relief to one and stole the innocence of another. The deer was the one who had lost its life today, but Toby knew that something in him had died as well.
This was a world gone mad, and Toby didn’t know why.