Hindsight. Would that we were gifted with its piercing insights before we did the deed.
Oh, I enjoyed a moment of piercing insight, of course. After I had leapt.
I saw with absolute clarity that my cover as a sane, functioning, rational human being was blown. I could descend no lower. It was abject humiliation by dodgy ditch. And all compounded by the sheep’s arse eye-level vision.
The slathering baa-ing mess passed within inches of my face – and that was with me pressing up hard against the opposite bank – trying to haul myself up by the hedgerow.
Until I just gave up. And stood there.
I observed, detachedly, that sheep could shit, piss and run at the same time.
I had lost the other flip-flop. Sucked off into the gritty squelching stream at the bottom of the ditch. I couldn’t bend to search for it as that would involve grazing my face along the nettles.
R yoew mithered in‘t ‘ed lass?
He was physically shaking with laughter as he said it. He shook his head. And laughed. And laughed.
He had the sheep penned between dogs in the wider yard. And was hugging his sides as he laughed.
Yoew ‘ad get jist ther – din’t yoew ‘ear mi?
‘appen yoew din‘t. And he actually snorted with laughter.
I looked up at him. Sitting up there on that quad-bike. And wanted to inflict pain. Itched to slap his laughing face.
He got down from the bike. Reached out his hand.
‘ere lass, gie mi yo‘er ‘and…
I despised the proffered hand and him. I glared. And he smiled at me, before the laughter burbled up again and he started shaking with the effort of keeping it down. There was laughter just staining the air between us. laughter becoming the absurdity of the situation.
What the hell. At least my Mother and Megan hadn’t seen me.
I took the hand.
Two bungled attempts to haul me out later and we worked out it would be easier if I just did it myself.
He walked down the road a bit and brought back the discarded flip-flop. Trying to wipe the sheep shit from it before he handed it over.
I stood. A bit wobbly. Office white skin mottled with nettle rash – puffy red and white weals that had yet to start itching and stinging. Feet bleeding and mucky.
I looked up towards the house.
And there they all were. Staring back.
Mum, Dad, Megan, Jamie and Ana.
Derek and his wife.
And a boy I later discovered was his son.
And the son‘s girlfriend.