Dad Your Name Means Brave
Every Wednesday Dad has lunch with a badger. The course-haired old omnivore’s name is Rob and, like all badgers, he takes no nonsense from anyone. Without fail Rob brings apples, elderberries and earthworms to share, Dad is always unsettled by this.
“God, this stuff’s awful! I didn’t ask you to bring food, why have you bought food, I can’t eat this, why do you want me to eat this?!”
Rob never apologises and won’t explain himself. Sometimes he loses his patience, once he threw a half-chewed Blue Bell bulb at Dad’s head, yelled at him. “Bloody hell, Andrew, you know why I’m here, think man think, I tell you every week!”.
Rob lives alone, his labyrinthine sett is decades old. Dad has nightmares that he has to eat his lunch there; he dreams of black dark, of clods of earth falling onto his aching back, of being lost to a feeling of being simultaneously eaten and buried, of struggling to form words from snuffling, grunting sounds.
There are days that Dad doesn’t recognise his own home. Rob hugs him then. The old boar curls himself around my Father’s shrunken frame nuzzles into the pale yellow jumper that’s gotten too big and peppered with holes and pasta sauce. They snuggle together like siblings on a cold night, a night before central heating, before television, a time when there were still bomb sites and bread and dripping.
“When you die”, Dad tells Rob, “I’m going to have you made into a jacket, a lovely black and white jacket. I’m going to get all dressed up, and my two daughters will take me to London to see an art exhibition. We’ll go out for dinner, I’ll spill my drink down your fur, and when my eldest hugs me, for the last time, she’ll breathe in the smell of woodland walks and Pinot Noir.”
© Anika Carpenter