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FICTION: ‘Pigs’

Art by Tracey Vuu

The entire concept of pigs has been scoured from the face of the earth and the minds of all its inhabitants. That is, of course, except for Georgie’s.

The Becketts are a family of three in a rural town that maps have long forgotten. Every morning, the Becketts ate bacon and eggs for breakfast. Now, the Becketts eat only eggs for breakfast. This change of diet saddens the youngest Beckett, Georgie. Not because he doesn’t like eggs. He rather enjoys them. But because he feels responsible for the abrupt, non-existence of pigs and all things pig related.

Non-existence might be a strange way of putting it, but it is the most apt. Pigs weren’t wiped out, they didn’t suddenly disappear. They weren’t here one day and gone the next. There have been no missing pig reports filed. Rather, the entire concept of pigs has been scoured from the face of the earth and the minds of all its inhabitants. That is, of course, except for Georgie’s.

Life doesn’t change much for the boy now that pigs aren’t a thing. Georgie still has homework and teeth to brush. His father still doesn’t thank his mother for cooking.

When Georgie sees his first bacon-less plate, he looks up to ask about the notable absence just in time to see his father consume an all egg meal. His father shows no discernible signs of surprise, nothing has changed for him. Not wanting to embarrass himself, Georgie does as they do and eats his eggs in silence.

On the ride to school, Georgie passes the butcher. Georgie is scolded when he asks if they have any ham. Apparently, this is the best (and only) butcher in town and if the butcher hasn’t heard of the meat, it’s not worth stocking.

Georgie fidgets through school. He’s eager to ask the teacher about pigs. But he keeps his hand down, the humiliation of his previous question still burns. Last week, the teacher was explaining how scientists still can’t explain gravity. Georgie reasonably asked, “if gravity is just a theory, why don’t we fall off the earth, or as he put it, fall up?” Georgie recalls the subsequent laughter and ridicule about “falling up”. So, he stays quiet about the pigs. No one else was discussing it, why should he?

Realising his parents or school aren’t going to be much help, Georgie rides his bike to the Abigail Farm after class. Georgie knows the Abigails are pig farmers. The faded sign that greets Georgie blatantly contradicts him as he pedals up the side of their property, “ABIGAIL & SONS FREE RANGE FARMING”.

Standing about 20 feet into one of the larger pens is Mr Abigail, and, as the sign promised, his sons. They are in galoshes, hands on hips displaying a ready for work attitude. Except, as far as Georgie can tell, there is nothing to do. The three men look a bit more bewildered than Georgie’s dad did that morning, they are focusing hard. They know there is something to be done, thus they stand.

They are no use to Georgie. He decides to distract himself from his current mystery and go watch the Dead End. The Dead End is the only road that leads to the country town. It’s a straight, two lane, bitumen road that steadily approaches from the horizon. It stops about 500 feet short of the town’s outskirts, ending in a cul-de-sac. In between the Dead End and the town is a field parched by the constant sun. Georgie pulls up his bike and watches the Dead End from a distance. Every so often a different car will drive down the road towards the town, eventually being halted by the Dead End. Sometimes the cars will turn straight around and drive back, others will pause for a few minutes. No one ever gets out. Georgie can’t see into the cars and it’s not clear if they can see him. It seems silly that the road doesn’t connect, it’s not much further.

Georgie has his own theory of gravity. His parents always reminded him it’s vital to keep grounded. So, he reasons it is up to each person to make sure they don’t fall up. He’s not too sure what keeps you connected to the ground, but it’s something to do with people keeping you in mind. Maybe a thought of someone acts as a tether to the ground. That’s why when no one thinks of a person for a while, we don’t see them anymore, they fall up. Georgie always makes sure he’s nice to others.

It does make him question why certain things do fall down. Snow, for example. But snow doesn’t quite fall exactly; it sways down, as if it’s still making up its mind about where it wants to go. Often Georgie will notice it snowing in his classroom, falling around the teacher and pupils. They go on with the class, ignoring the snow, but now with their voices dampened. The lesson is now muffled as Georgie is entranced by the snow piling across the desks and chalk board. His mind regularly drifts to snow; a snowdrift.

During the day, falling up doesn’t seem so likely. The sky is a light blue roof, not far away, a net. But when the sun goes down, Georgie can’t see the roof anymore, all he can see is the bottomless night sky, or as his teacher tells him, Space. He only remembers two things about Space. Firstly, that it is deep, very deep. Secondly, it is so cold that your body would freeze in under a minute. Georgie rides home faster as he thinks about all the forgotten people who have fallen up, their frozen bodies knocking into each other, falling further.

Daniel Target

The author Daniel Target

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