We’re driving to work in the outback, the morning air cool and the windows down. Seven of us are crammed into the car, sitting on each other’s laps clutching our lunchboxes. There’s a cloudless sky above and a long day of fruit picking ahead. Bouncing reggae on the radio has us feeling breezy.
There’s movement in my peripheral vision and a kangaroo slams against the bonnet. Seth hammers the breaks and we skid to a halt. The kangaroo scrabbles to its feet and hops away into the undergrowth, but something is left behind in the road. A joey, fallen from the pouch. With a groan, we climb out of the car. Its legs are broken and it’s in pain. There is no hope. Nobody wants to be the one to do it. Finally Seth carries it to the side of the road, and with a rock to the head he kills it.
We climb back into the car in silence, back onto laps, and pull the doors to. The bush is quiet around us. Seth turns the keys and the car hacks to life. The radio springs back on, and the jolly reggae blasts us in the face. It’s so absurd that we burst out laughing, and the car rumbles on down the dirt road. Then I remember the mother, watching from the treeline. She thinks we are monsters.