Life isn’t fair. That is what Mother used to say. She taught my brother and I with a story as she cooked. She started off at the table as she mashed garlic.
“There once were two ponies. They were both beautiful strong ponies. They were raised on a nice farm far from all the poisons of city life. They were happy, they ran and played all day and they had the kindest owners.”
Mother moved on to the onions. She peeled them one by one and as she did she placed them into a large bowl.
“The ponies grew into magnificent horses who carried their owners through many competitions of which they always came in either first or second.”
Mother chopped the onions fine and tossed them into a new, smaller bowl.
“One day, the ponies were trotting along the edge of their pens, enjoying the sun and fresh air.”
Mother tapped the knife back and forth on the table as a horse’s hooves might clatter.
“All of the sudden, out of the woods leapt a wolf!”
Mother stood up and brought the onions and garlic with her. She placed a large pan on the stovetop and layered it with oil.
“What next?” asked my brother.
“Well, one of the ponies saw the wolf only a second before the other. She leapt out of the way and the wolf bit the leg of the other pony. And she let out the worst kind of noise.”
Mother said as she dumped the onions and garlic into the pan and they howled at the heat. Mother took some mushrooms and potatoes from the fridge and brought them to the table.
“When the owners heard the noise they came running with guns and shot the wolf dead.”
Mother chopped down hard on a large capped mushroom.
“But, the pony’s leg was badly wounded.”
She slowly sliced the smaller ones into thick chunks.
“The owners took the pony into the barn and called the doctor. The pony who hadn’t been bit stayed out in the sun but went to the other side of the pen. There, a bird sat on one of the posts.”
Mother peeled the potatoes and placed them in the old onion bowl.
“The bird waved as the pony approached ‘that was close’ the bird said to the pony. ‘Yes, but my friend is hurt and it is all my fault!’. ‘How is it your fault?’ asked the bird. ‘Well, my friend is bit and I am not. How unfair!’ the pony said.”
Mother did not do voices. It was hard to follow.
“The bird looked sideways at the pony and said ‘Life isn’t fair.’ But, the pony was very stupid and didn’t understand. ‘But the wolf did not eat me. Life is better to me than to her’”
Mother cubed the potatoes into clumsy chunks.
“The bird, again, looked sideways at the pony and said ‘So?’ and then the bird flew away. The pony stayed out and tried to think about what the bird meant. But, thinking hurt the pony, as thinking often does to stupid things, and so the pony continued to trot around in the sun and wait for her friend.”
Mother got up and went to the stove. She lifted the lid on the pan and smelled it. She nodded slightly and pulled a large hunk of meat from the refrigerator and slapped it into the pan. She stuffed the potatoes and mushrooms in around it, lathered it in oil, and put the top back on.
“What happened to the bit pony?” my brother asked.
“It was turned into hamburgers.” Mother said.
“EW!” We said, in unison.
“Who would eat a horse?” I asked.
Mother opened the pan top and sprinkled in some herbs. She looked at me.
“Canadians.” She said.