Fly Spray by Kim Chinquee



Fly Spray

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 in trouble.

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 angry.

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.



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