My fingertips trace the soft concave velvet of the side of a dying horse's nose. In twilight, the awkward, well-meaning vet blends sympathy with science, explanations of angle and force and bone density that soften to "I'm sorry" and painful quiet. The horse's owner, quivering with grief and strength, will not cry until later, but I let my own tears mark the passing as the pink vial empties.
The vet checks breaths as they still, heartbeats as they cease. Legs move, then stop. In the darkness, our faces are kept secret as we wait.
"Corneal reflex is the last thing to go," the vet says after a while, which explains why, after death, the little horse watches us mourn him.