When I was eleven, I found a dead kitten in the paddock at the end of my street.
It couldn’t have been more than three or four weeks old, and it was perfect. The flies and ants hadn’t found it yet. It was lying on its back , hidden in the long grass, and I found it while exploring. I had been hoping to find mushrooms.
The kitten’s fur was still shiny and smooth. Its little toe beans were a little pale. I thought is was asleep at first glance, and was heartbroken when it was dead. I tried to revive it, holding it to my heart to warm it up, pressing its tiny chest with a finger. Of course, it remained dead.
How did the little corpse get to the paddock? Did its mother carry it there and abandon it to the elements? Was it snatched up by a hawk and then dropped? Did some monstrous human being drown it, and then discarded it? It was certainly too little to have crawled there, and it looked untouched.
It was a little brown tabby. As a grown cat, it would have been a tigerish beauty. Even the softness and sweetness of its tiny claws weren’t enough to save it from that greatest of ambush predators, Death.
I buried it were I found it.
It will tell you a lot about me, that I spend years afterwards searching for live kittens in that paddock.