The winning entry in the 2013 Ultra Flash Fiction contest. Congratulations to Rick Bylina.
This cow runs. Does she know why? I’m sure that cows don't hold thoughts long, but on some days, I think they might hold them for a short while. It’s not a sane thing to say or think on a farm—to give them their due this way. It’s like a name. You don’t name a milk cow. It’s just not done.
Cows. They moo, chew the cud, and do things that look strange to us, but it might make sense to them. It could be an ant bite or a snake hiss or just a cloud that looks mean that makes them flip out, jump in place, or butt a tree. “Cow be nuts. Ain’t got no sense,” Joe said once. “But they eats good.” He liked them fine, that is, ‘til this cow’s hoof caught Joe in the head last week.
This cow, she kicks dust high in the air in the wake of her charge down the trail. The heat makes her snort snot. Drool falls from her full lips—drip, drip, drip—like a wet sink rag hung with no care. The cow slides to a stop next to the bales of hay. She eats fast. Poops. When done, she walks to the trough and drinks her fill. She finds the sweets I left. Her moos are loud. She finds more sweets. More moos. Joy fills the sound. In the pen, I think she wants to thank Joe for the sweets. A fly dies in the swoosh of her tail. Her head droops. She moos once more—long and low. It is a sad sound. Does she think of Joe and mourn?
Night falls. I wring the rag tight and head for bed. It is a good last night for this cow.