The Cows

Dane Farris

Sue dropped her watering can in shock and watched the cows float into the sky. She had been walking out to water her flower garden when she saw them taking off. Daisy floated the highest of them. Her tongue lolled out of her mouth as she tried to bite a few leaves from their elm tree. Fortescue’s hooves had barely left the ground, as if she were making a short leap. The rest of the small herd was somewhere between the two. A few of them were mooing with alarm but didn’t seem too concerned.

Sue’s first instinct was to call for Harold. Never in their forty-three years of farming had they seen anything like this, but she knew she couldn’t begin to handle it without him. His name was halfway out of her mouth when she remembered he had died.

Two months ago, he had gotten up early, like he always did. Instead of walking the dogs or working on his truck, he had gone down to the kitchen to make breakfast. He must have turned off the alarm clock when he got up. Maybe he had planned to wake her when he brought the food back to their room, but he never ended up making it back. Sue woke up several hours past dawn, feeling disoriented with dried saliva on her cheek. After putting on her housecoat and slippers, she had walked downstairs to find Harold lying on the kitchen floor, the refrigerator still open, surrounded by broken eggs and spilled milk.

She had thought about that morning every moment since. Amid calling 911 and their children, planning and attending the funeral, all Sue could think of was the look on Harold’s sweet face. It seemed clear to her that he had spent his last moment trying to prove, for the hundredth time, that he still loved her. And she would never get to return the favor. The only thing that could knock the image from her head was a dozen head of cattle drifting in the sky. Daisy mooed at a hawk flying by, and Fortescue had reached the lowest branches of the elm.

Her next impulse was to call for help, or at least someone’s attention. She wasn’t sure what her neighbors would be able to do about it, but she needed to let someone know this was happening. It wasn’t every day that cows took to flying, surely this was worth a little attention. The nearest neighbors were five miles away, though. Part of the reason she and Harold had chosen this land in the first place.

Sue considered running into the house for her phone. Shawn, her eldest grandson, had spent a patient afternoon explaining to her how it all worked. Here was where you made phone calls, here was where you sent text messages, here was where you took pictures, and a quick swipe turned it into video and don’t forget to turn the phone sideways.

She had smiled and nodded and thanked him a hundred times for his help, occasionally asked him if he wanted a soda or anything. She didn’t understand a lick of what he was saying, but she was happy to have the time with him. The thought had been nice, but everything already moved too fast for her. She didn’t need some glorified appliance to speed things up further.

Sue decided on her best course of action. She turned and walked to her rocking chair, her knees aching a little as she sat down. She rocked and watched the cows. Some of them seemed to have figured out the trick to floating and had started playing. A few of the younger ones were chasing each other in lazy circles, all the while drifting higher. Their black and white bodies stood out clearly against the blue, cloudless sky.

So, Sue sat and watched the cows slowly float away. It was a beautiful morning for it. The breeze was soft yet insistent, slowly pushing the herd this way and that. The dew was still fresh on the grass, sparkling in the morning sun. It was early summer, and the cicadas hadn’t started their yearly screaming yet. The only sounds were the cows’ moos departing upwards, the leaves of the tree rustling in the wind, and Sue’s rocking chair creaking on the porch. After a few minutes, Sue reached over, rocked Harold’s chair with her hand, and together they watched the cows.

Dane Farris lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with his amazing wife, beautiful daughter, and three noisy pets. He is 29 years old, a student at the University of Arkansas, and still can’t grow a beard. Passionate about literature since childhood, Dane has now found the time and energy to focus on his writing.

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