I surprise myself by trotting outside to take a look before anyone can stop me. It’s by the footpath on the far side of the lawn, and not so much ‘it’, but ‘they’. Many pieces. Chunks of meat, slimy and bloody and plumaged in iridescent blue. The victim’s tail feathers are strewn around and on top of the pile of flesh, as are the organs — a riot of violated beauty. To cap it all off, a very long, fine-looking feather has been skewered erect into the centre of the heap, its gold-rimmed iris of indigo and turquoise gleaming in the dim garden lights like an incongruously merry eye, its delicate green hairs waving back and forth like a baby palm frond in the night breeze. In the distance are two running figures, looming closer, holding a plastic tarp stretched between them, as if the peacock is still alive and they’re trying to bring it into captivity. Only as the tarp descends over the heap do I catch a glimpse of the message propped at its base, scrawled on cardboard in marker, or possibly blood.
North American edition forthcoming from Atria Books on 7 January 2020
Originally published by Penguin Random House in Australia as Under Your Wings