This short story of mine was recently published on the great site, LOSER CITY
MILKING IN THE EVENING
Because loneliness had walked over him like like a toddler taking his first steps and solitude was a thud, hollow in his ears, Stephen spent days with the movements of goats, painstakingly imitating, mirroring — subtleties defined, generalities embraced.
Alone, he had turned to the goats for companionship. Admiring their nonchalance when dealing with society, he watched the goats eat, watched how they slept, and watched how they would shake off flies and stare into the nothing as if they were trying to figure out why the world turned as it did. For days and for days, Stephen watched and he learned. For weeks and for months, Stephen studied goat until he had mastered this craft.
Now every nuance of goat he executed with deft certainty. He nibbled on corn cobs and nuzzled udders and ears. He slept standing up; he slept lying down; he shook off flies and stared into the nothing trying to figure out why the world turned as it did. He had become one of them and stood in the herd with swagger. The goats embraced him, and he felt a companionship like never before. So he stayed with the goats, contented, alive.
But like all happiness, this one, too, was fleeting. As is often a goat’s lot in life, one day he was herded up with the rest and taken to town for auction.
After a short bidding war, Stephen was separated and sold solo to a large pink man with thick pink hands and clean pink cheeks who had given up his banking job in town to buy a hobby farm. He wanted to get back to the land and teach his two teenage daughters the fine Christian values of family and work. He was a pink man in need of a fine milking goat.
So he bid.
And he won.
And it was done.
There was a bumpy ride up a new gravel drive, and the pink man pulled his red pick-up next to a freshly painted pen. Here he unleashed and unloaded his new goat.
He gathered his family together around him and they all watched with a smile as the goat sniffed and ambled around.
“It looks confused,” said the youngest daughter, her pigtails bouncing with each word.
“It looks lonely,” said the elder daughter with a damp, heavy voice.
“It is up to you girls to comfort the goat,” said the pink man, resting his hands on their heads, “It is up to you girls to make him a part of our new lives.”
So the days passed into autumn and the girls learned the ways of their goat. The goat gave them his milk gladly and, though the cheese it made was too runny to eat, they kept to their duties. Sometimes together, sometimes apart, always in the evening.
Then winter came and went quickly that year. As the spring thaw drew nigh, the pink man gathered his family together by the goat pen and proclaimed, “This is the life man is meant to live!” while his two girls giggled as the goat nuzzled their swollen bellies.
It was then, finally, that the pink man’s wife looked around and mumbled (to no one in particular anymore), “Tonight, perhaps, maybe I’ll milk the goat.”