WARNING: What follows is a sad short story of companionship between man and pig, in life and in death. If you are easily distressed by such stories, please do not read on. This is not part of the Piggy and Puggy series. I have been thinking a lot recently about the various aspects of man’s relationship with animals and that’s how I came to think of this short story.
Man and pig walked. The sun beat down on their thin and tired bodies. The land was parched; the moving creatures were parched. They trudged side by side.
The man didn’t want the piggy, his only friend, to die. He’d have to eat her then.
The piggy didn’t want the man, her only friend, to die. She’d have to eat him then.
The man had an idea. He motioned to the piggy in the direction behind him. Her big imploring eyes told him she didn’t want to be left behind, not even at the price of having to be eaten eventually by the man if she stayed with him. He knelt down and started to open his mouth, over and over again. No words came out, only hot air. He was explaining that the piggy should walk behind him, in his shadow. His skeletal frame made a shadow whether he wanted it or not, and he wished the piggy to use it. Sweat cooled the man; the piggy could not sweat, but at least the piggy could be in the shade. Finally, after the man stood up slowly and pointed to the darker sand in his shadow, the piggy understood. He stroked the piggy and she knew he was trying to help her.
They walked on, man and pig. He ahead; she behind partially sheltered by the meagre shadow.
The man was scared he might not notice if the piggy, his only friend, stopped moving while he walked on. He was worried he’d leave her behind. He wanted to pick up and carry her thin body, but he could barely carry his own weight. He sighed and tripped. Then he lay motionless where he’d fallen.
The piggy nuzzled him with her dry snout and licked his nose with her dry tongue. She could not muster even a droplet of water to smear on his still face. He was her only friend. She lay her body into the shadow of his body, and put her snout to his nose. Their journey continued.
A vulture appeared in the pale sky. As it approached, it saw man and pig lying in the cool shadow of death. The man’s arm held the piggy close. The vulture cried as he ate from both equally.