Posted by: Ariel | February 4, 2011

“Bessie and Buttercup”

Oh, Bess and Cup. Those two rascals were our prize milking cows, and I knew ’em since they were calves.  Always looking out for each other, they were. Milk one of ’em too roughly and the other’d kick you right silly. Their mothers died in the big storm of ’96, so they really had no one but each other. They were just like sisters, those two, and one look’d tell you they were best friends forever.

Bess and Cup got into trouble most every day. I’d see ’em in the morning and sometimes not again till late, late at night. Who knows what they got up to? They knew all the holes in the fence and they came and went as they pleased, whispering jokes to each other that would send them into rippling spams of laughter. As they grew up, I guess they strayed farther and farther. More than a bit curious, they always were. But I didn’t question ’em or try to rein ’em in. A happy cow gives good milk.

It’s funny how worried we were about something happening to them when they wandered off. My brother used to say cats are the only ones get nine lives. But I reckon the beginning of the end for them was right here on the farm, with a seed of dissatisfaction. See, Bess and Cup thought they were in heaven. Adventures every day, good food every night and good company to share it with. Till one uneventful evening, they saw the bull.

The bull belonged to our neighbors. They usually kept it on the far side of the hedge but I guess they’d left the gate open and it wandered over.  Across the driveway separating our fences, Bess and Cup stared at him, and he stared back. There was something about his look that must’ve intrigued ’em more than our own bulls did. He lifted his head slowly, towards the rising moon, and then glanced back before walking away.  I saw Bess and Cup share a quick look then, a half-smile, and pretend nothing had happened. But something had happened. I reckon it was the first secret they had ever kept from each other.

Things kinda changed after that. There weren’t as many adventures out into the woods, and I never saw ’em laughing up a fit anymore. I think they were wondering what lay out there, beyond the fence. Not just what was out there in the world, but what was out there for them. They spent an awful lot of time at that fence, staring out into nothingness. Their conversations became stilted, and polite. They were formalities that drifted too soon into silence. There was a certain tension, a feeling of things being just a little bit uncomfortable. And often times they would just stand there side by side in silence, chewing their cud, imagining themselves farther and farther from home in their own separate daydreams.

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