by Kim Chinquee
My father was trimming the hooves off a cow. He leaned
over the stanchion, cutting with the shear. He was wearing his gray work
pants and his matching shirt and the same boots that he always bought from
Fleet Farm. The cows hooves were almost bleeding. She was going to the fair.
I watched him from the distance. I sat on a bale of hay. We were in the barn
and the cow was in the stanchion where cows waited for the breeder when they
were in heat. But this cow wasn’t pregnant. My father wanted me to lead her
at the coliseum. He didn’t tell me this, but he told this to my mother, and
she in turn told me. She told me not to speak to him unless he was addressing
me. Those were the rules. My mother said he made them. I didn’t want to get
My mom was in the kitchen, making brownies. She always fed us. We always sat
in silence. We’d be sitting at the table.
I sat there watching him. He didn’t speak to me. The cow was bellowing. She
swished her tail, swatting flies off of her back. She shuffled, wasn’t still.
My father reached for his winter vest that was hanging on a nail. The wall
was stone, part of it cement. He got out a can of fly spray. He held it up.
He looked at me. “Spray her while I do this,” he said to me.
I got up and took off the cap and he went back to cutting Sugar’s
hooves. I sprayed the flies off her back and watched them buzz in
crowds before falling to the straw that made a bed out of the floor. One fly
landed on my father. It was in his hair, next to his growing bald spot. “One
landed on your hair,” I said to him. I was afraid. I didn’t want him to get
He laughed. He put down the shears. Then he laughed some more. He told me I
was funny. He called me by my name. I hadn’t heard him say my name before. My
name was Samantha. He said it in a sentence. It was like a song.
Kim Chinquee lives in Illinois with her son. Her recent
work has appeared or is forthcoming in Noon, Denver Quarterly, Quick
Fiction, The Arkansas Review, The South Carolina Review, Cottonwood,
Confrontation, Hobart, Phantasmagoria, and other journals. She won a
Henfield Prize, and was nominated for a Pushcart.