* This story first appeared on www.flash-frontier.com 2nd July 2020
Caroline Barron, Auckland
Auckland Regional Prize
She was a good bitch, Sam’s nana. Not that I’d told her that.
It’s the morning of her tangi and my boss from the meat works hoses clouds of blood from the marae driveway. Trays of glistening lamb steaks and loins are being ferried from trestle to kitchen, and inside the wharekai the aunties are up to their elbows in rewana dough and sweet as smelling vats of beef.
“Over here, mate,” he says, pointing to the pink-stained table.
With a grunt I lumber the great white sow from my shoulders, trestle legs nearly buckling. Boss lets out a long low whistle. She was a beauty.
Far out, the kai turning up! Buckets of tohe and tuatua that Sam and her sister had spent hours on hands and knees digging for at the gully streams along Ripiro. Grey mullet –some cold smoked, some fresh from nets. Me? I’d not been able to be around the others.
I’d known by the trampled ferns and hoof marks down by the creek that she was a biggie. Fifty kilos at least, I reckoned. The dogs tore through the water and up the bank, me scrambling up after them. And there she was. Spider and Jet bailing her up, losing their shit.
“Leave her the fuck alone!” I yelled, putting a boot up Spider’s arse.
I lunged, grabbed the sow’s hind legs and flipped her over – they’re fucked on their backs, like crabs. The freaky thing is, she didn’t stop staring at me, not once, even when the knife went in. I held her head until her eyes rolled back. Quiet.
Here at the tangi, I scratch my knife back and forth along the sharpening stone. Pause. Make the first cut. Don’t stop for two days.
You were a good bitch, Nana.