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I killed an otter.

In truth I couldn’t help it. You can hardly blame me; with hands at ten to two on the steering wheel and a sensible MPH. But in a smear of headlights, he ran under the bumper and was done. I rumbled him over and felt his bones busting on the sump. There wasn’t even time to raise my eyebrows.

Of course I stopped and ran back to the bundle on the road. He was red as paint in the brakelights, and his coat prickled in ditchwater pins. Such a tail (thick as my wrist) all twisted and sore on the tarmac. I picked him up and placed him in the hedgefoot and the steam came up from his clotty wounds like mist. I wanted to feel for his serrated teeth and run my fingers across his paws, but there were bubbles of blood and splinters of bone about him. It felt wrong to manhandle him further.

So I let him be and another car came slashing past in rush and brightness without even slowing down. It must be hard to make sense of traffic in the dark when the fastest thing you’ve ever seen is a finnock.

How seldom I see otters, and how desperate to find this one in the final moment of his life. Redshank pined in the darkness. Some way to spend Christmas Eve.



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