We are delighted to publish Unflinching, September’s flash fiction winner Liz Hedgecock’s piece of writing about Hardy and his love of animals…
Florence heard barking and walked over to the window. Thomas was in the garden with Wessex, throwing a ball. The puppy bounded across the lawn, leaping and rolling with joy. He brought the ball back and sat, tail wagging. ‘Good boy!’ A rare smile. This morning’s incident with the postman was all forgotten.
The ball rolled into the flowerbed. The terrier stopped, sniffed the rich soil, and began digging. Oh, Wessie, and you were being so good! Florence waited for her husband to call Wessex off, but he stood unseeing.
He’s with her, again.
Florence turned away and her eye snagged on the book lying nearby, fresh from the printers. Satires of Circumstance. She did not pick it up. Emma rode through its pages, forever young, and now forever loved.
Wessex was gnawing at something he had dug up. Florence rapped on the glass. ‘Stop it, Wessie!’ she cried, though she knew her words would hit the window and fall stunned.
Thomas strode towards Wessex and the puppy slunk away. He poked the object with his stick, turning it over. A dead bird, bones laid bare. Poor Wessie, thought Florence. It wasn’t his fault. Terriers are bred to dig.
Florence watched as Thomas shook his head over the little heap of bone and feather and ambled back into the past. They dig things up, things which should be left buried, and expose them to the light for everyone to see. It’s in their nature.