In the midst of life, we are in death. So goes the Anglican quote. But that shouldn't make us feel too sad – we are all stardust, after all.
Even a pheasant recently hit by a car.
Mycroft Sharper – toy snowman come to life – has seen a number of freshly dead bodies. He has a job driving doctors and clinicians to their patients with an out-of-hours emergency service and has occasionally been involved in trying to prevent the living taking the next step in one of the constant phases of the circle of life. Most times, the circle demands to turn and he can do nothing.
On other occasions, however …
There are still minute feathers immediately surrounding the corpse and blood still oozes from the head wound, so the bird can only have been struck in the last few minutes. It must have been quick. Hopefully unaware of the danger.
The clouds lift and the sun shines. It catches a pylon on the horizon, turning it into a pure white framework of wafer metal bones standing out against a backdrop of grey cloud, as though Death has temporarily transformed himself into a skeletal ferryman striding across the fields to collect his passenger.
Being representative of an ephemeral entity, Mycroft is acutely aware of the transient nature of existence, let alone how glorious it is to be alive and the pity to be found in death. He reaches down to stroke the soft feathers.
The autumn leaves also catch the low sunlight and they glow myriad hues of yellow and gold and russet and ochre. They, too, stand out, but against the pale bark of the silver birches and black wood of the oak. Twisting and turning and fluttering in the zephyr, some of their number finally succumb to the pressure and drift and sway their way to the growing carpet of leaf litter. It is magical.
So Mycroft checks that no-one is watching, taps into the magic and weaves his power.
Somewhere nearby a pheasant calls out. And is answered by the one even closer to Mycroft.
Life goes on. It always does.
Try not to do the stupid things stupid people do.