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Long, Long Legs | Story Slam 2019

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Long Long Legs by Dylanna Fisher, published by live performance at Edmonton's Story Slam

I can’t really remember where we were on the highway between home and camping. It doesn’t really matter though. I guess location didn’t have much relevance. We were a few yards away from it and I could tell what it was. This was one of the first times, I’d actually caught a good look at a dead animal. I’m not saying I’ve never been around dead animals, but for whatever reason, I was never able to actually see them. Though here I was.

Those first moments were filled with a mutual silence as we both noticed it at the same time. The carcass was subtle like smoke against a cloudy sky. You could barely see the difference, but you couldn’t see it at the same time. I’m not sure if that makes sense but it did when you saw our reactions. Even as we stopped laughing, the music faded behind us. The sounds of our voices and the tunes of the radio were left to hang in the air to become thin.

Then came the moment that we were side by side. The driver stared ahead. Focusing on the road, the trees on either side of us. The living trees. I instead stared at the body on the road. It was just lying there. As still as death and as dead as the stillness around it. I continued to stare at it, at the long legs covered in soft pale fur. To call the legs white would be too harsh and beige too mundane. Its legs extended parallel to the road. Beautifully parallel. I could see a coat under the carcass. It looked like a pool of caramel hidden under a grave. That’s all I saw, and it was over.

Too soon it was the moment after.

We were driving away and began talking about something irrelevant to the concepts of life and death. We didn’t talk about the corpse and probably never would. I’m sure that if we had stopped, we would have been able to find out what colour it was. To find out if the coat was really the colour of caramel, or if it was a mere trick of the sun or autumns leaves. I would have noticed the gore if there was any. The trauma of death. Some telltale sign as to how or why this animal had to die. I’m sure I would be able to see its eyes. Whether the shine within our eyes abandons us upon death or if it lingers as a remnant to what was lost. At the very least I would know what kind of animal I was mourning. I guess it could’ve been a deer. But during that moment, all I saw were the legs. What a funny thing to focus on. I think back and can only associate those legs with freedom. What a notion to connect freedom with a creature that wouldn’t move again.

Throughout the day, those white legs followed me. I couldn’t help but think about them. Until I wasn’t thinking about them. We arrived at the campsite and the distraction began. Those legs once bright in the front of my mind were soon pale and fading to the back of my skull. It didn’t seem like long, but the distractions lasted until night fell.

As the last glimpse of the sun left our campsite, we sat around the campfire. It only took one person to look up and soon everyone was star gazing. I tore my eyes away from the pinpoints of light to look at who I was sharing the sight with. My sister, father, uncle, and cousin, all circled around burning wood to gaze at something burning light-years away. I looked around the fire and just took a moment to appreciate the ones around me. It was peaceful, and for whatever reason, which triggered the memory of the animal’s legs. I felt my eyebrows furrow, but it was invisible to the others.

As I returned my focus to them, I heard my uncle chastise my cousin, Jamie for getting too close to the fire. Jamie was the youngest of the campers still awake, youngest of the ones sleeping too, come to think of it. Seconds passed and like many young kids, he did it again. This time he went too far and fell forward. My uncle didn’t miss a beat and pushed him back against his little Pixar camp chair. It teetered slightly before bringing the panicked little boy to a stop.

I could hear his breath snagging as he cried.

He had tears running down his face.

Although I couldn’t see them, I could feel the echo in my chest.

His father repeated Are you okay until he got an answer. My knee is all that the poor kid could get out. My uncle asked again if he hit it on the ground or the fireplace. Understandable because one was a simple booboo while the other might mean a bad burn. He didn’t answer the question, instead, he answered with hysteria.

I don’t wanna die.

I don’t wanna die.

I don’t wanna die.

I don’t want to die.

After some artificial light, we learned that Jamie wasn’t hurt merely terrified. I couldn’t help but think about that animal in the middle of a highway. It must have been both hurt and terrified as it died alone. Forgotten, save for its long pale legs.

I wonder if the animal was thinking the same thing as Jamie.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t want to die.

But it did die.

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