Chapter 20 - Deprivation

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The other goat had died the previous week of what clearly seemed to be the same illness. She had stayed with her round the clock for two weeks, but she couldn't be saved. Valentina felt wracked with guilt just the same. She couldn't bring herself let the vet take the dead goat to incinerate her, but it was hard digging the deep hole in the rocky soil to bury her (especially because she was cut open from the autopsy and there were organs and fluids spilling out everywhere). The wheelbarrow was broken. Valentina's chest and shoulders hurt from digging and from heaving the poor animal, who weighed at least as much as she did.

Notwithstanding the agricultural classification they needed to make a living from the gîtes, as with everything regarding Jerremee, Valentina had no real explanation of how she had allowed herself into the extraordinarily stupid situation with keeping goats. She felt as though she had been put under a spell (or a curse rather). Now the poor animals were paying for her stupidity... But there was something else... something terrible: she was convinced Lysander had something called 'Enterotoxaemia', which was deadly and could have been prevented with the booster tetanus vaccination the animals normally had each year. She was responsible, because six months earlier she had not given the herd the prophylactic injections that might have protected them from the Enterotoxaemia and a heap of other awful diseases.

During the months leading up to the injections' scheduled date, it had become clear even to Jerremee that Valentina was immovable in her desire to end the relationship with him and life at the little cottage had started to climb towards the unbearably volatile level that it resided at until his recent 'permanent' departure. By the time the injections were due Valentina had turned from simply being an unhappy and drained person into a barely functioning, nervous wreck, existing in a state bounding constantly between chaos and hysteria. Prior to that, the goats had had all the best food and vitamin supplements and veterinary care.

By the time she remembered the booster injections were due, they were five weeks late. By that time, the vet was already chasing three month old invoices that couldn't be paid and there wasn't enough money in any of the bank accounts to even consider getting a different vet out on cash. Jerremee's increasing habit of sudden, unexpected, apoplectic tantrums to mask the truths of his financial impotency, mixed with his mounting craziness and chaos to mask all his other nasty little secrets that he was ashamed of (and Valentina's mounting revulsion verging on panic every time she had to have even a very small amount of contact with him – much less face one of his explosions) caused her to take the chance and not give the animals the preventative injection. She could not face the asking, the waiting and the begging, or his lying and tantrum that would likely follow, to get the money. So, she didn't ask – which is just what Jerremee wanted.

Her view was that the result would have been the same: there was no money, which meant there would be no vet... Still it was her fault. She should have demanded the money and let him feel shamed into finding it from somewhere. She should have tried with his credit card and not worried about it, the way a normal person would have. She could have begged the vet or convinced another vet to come out. (The vet eventually chased Jerremee directly from his end anyway and Jerremee paid it immediately to save face, so it was all for nothing.) She had been selfish (selfish and weak) in not facing Jerremee, because she just couldn't take the drama. She had let Lysander and the others down horribly. Their short lives were in her hands and she had betrayed them!

Many small hobby farms never gave their flocks injections, without consequence. Valentina and the little herd were not to be so lucky. It was an unfortunate mistake she would not be able to get over.

Then there was the new burden with Jerremee... The thing was, he was SUPPOSED to have left permanently. They (or he) had finally agreed he would leave for good, ending all contact, after a month straight of hideous rows. The lead up to him leaving had been intensely rough and now, even though it was supposed to be over and he had moved out and supposedly moved on, in actuality he still refused to acknowledge that the chance of any relationship on any level had been irreparably damaged. Therefore he refused to stop showing up, or stop having an imaginary dialogue with her through his incessant, delusional –or perhaps cunningly orchestrated– texts and e-mails. Conversely, he hadn't paid anything toward the animals in quite some time, which he alternated between refusing to acknowledge was true and making up stories to justify why it was Valentina's fault, when he would have 'gladly paid if he knew they needed food.' Although he should have paid, Valentina was too glad to be rid of Jerremee and too proud to insist that he settle his responsibilities, which he was well aware of. She was glad to be free of the aggravation of relying on him and being let down.

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