Ours was More a Sudden Notice

“It was winter when I first saw Call Lucas, though I’d seen him, sure, before.  Ours was more a sudden notice, like a secret thought grown big, then bigger, till you blurt it out and nearly jump inside your skin to hear it said.  He was milking Boss, his flat man-rump on a T-bar stool, knees higher, spraddle-legged, shouldered into Boss’s flank, arm hoist round her leg to hobble her, neck craned sideways, looking up at nothing, at the pigeons in the rafters, then at me; at me, at Mackie Spoon, eighteen, come in to gather eggs….

What we did was wrong, though there can be a way of turning something, seeing how what happens after can add up to make it right.  It was milking time, five-thirty, warm inside from cattle, from the little things that live in hay to make it give its own green breathing heat.  The sun was tabby-orange through the slats, dust and motes around me like I’d walked into a spangled halo, bars of orange slid across me smooth and light as water.  I smelled the warm grass smell of hay not cured and dust and cattle, linseed oil and harness leather, swallows’ nests of mud and straw and feathers, mice, the foam of milk from Call’s pail when he set it down and milk lapped into the dirt as he came towards me, unwashed work when he got closer, myself in my wool coat with wet snow melting on the shoulders where it fell upon me from the eaves.”

-Janet Peery, What the Thunder Said,  Best American Short Stories 1993

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