SLAUGHTERING
GOATS
by Marie G. Coleman
The farm came into sight as they reached the top of
the hill. Nora and Alan climbed out of their red Jetta
and walked across the field. They wanted to buy
corn. Yet both of them wanted more, and that was
never stated in their relationship.

In the car parked next to them a dad strapped his
little boy into a car seat. The minivan hummed as
the little boy’s mother walked toward the passenger
side. She seemed unable to crack a smile, even
when Nora and Alan smiled at her.

As the barren couple approached the hut a young
woman advanced toward them; a man holding a
toddler by the hand trailed behind.

“They’re slaughtering goats!” the young woman
hollered, her face bright as the apples dangling from
the trees.

Nora looked at her husband, but, as was often the
case, he looked away. Sometimes she envisioned
him as a Bobble head doll.

“It’s a farm,” Nora said, perhaps more to herself
than to Alan. He wasn’t much for paying attention.

The boy behind the counter said, “She’s pregnant,
and they were up there, apple picking. You know
how women can be when they are . . . .”

Nora had never raised a child and yet she resented
the boy’s remarks. Meanwhile the pregnant woman,
who didn’t look bulbous at all, kept shouting as
others walked toward the hut.

“They’re slaughtering goats!”

The young boy’s sheepish grin apologized for more
than his words could ever provide. Such a poor
mask for one to wear being placed in the awkward
position of selling produce while a slaughter ensued.

Alan’s curiosity piqued. “Where are they
slaughtering the goats? Can we watch?”

Nora walked over to a crate of peaches and
scrutinized them.

“Those blemishes are from the hail storm.
Remember back in June,” the boy said.

Nora rubbed her fingertips over their fuzzy skin and
admired each tiny puncture. She recalled the
fullness of a life nestled inside a dark warm womb, if
only for a short time, if only so long ago.

“They are still good, just marked,” said the boy.

She nodded and walked over to the box of
cucumbers. She gripped one after another,
inspecting each for firmness. She meandered toward
the overpriced blueberries and selected a pint
anyway. Each plump morsel was well worth the
price.

Alan wandered in the direction of the slaughter.
Nora said nothing. He liked to watch, to talk, and
get excited at what others did.

Nora opened the refrigerator door and gathered a
dozen eggs. She eyed the melons and wondered if
they were sweet. As if the boy could read her mind,
he said, “Those melons are epic.”

Alan never went far. Nora never needed to call him
back. He returned from the escapade carrying a
Hubbard squash. He didn’t get close enough to the
slaughter. Nora counted on that.

“You’d need to go way up into the field,” the boy
behind the counter said. He pointed past the
blueberry bushes and apple orchards. “Way up, over
there.”

Alan talked and rarely acted. Nora knew he’d never
venture that far into a field to witness knives
wielded against the soft folds of a creature, blood
gushing, guts sprouting. She imagined that Alan
might faint if he ever witnessed the mess of such an
ordeal. The pitch of their cries might echo forever in
his sentimental soul.

Did one need to be pregnant to be disturbed by the
slaughtering of goats? Perhaps one only needed to
consider the process of nature.   

Nora and Alan split the cost while the boy bagged
the produce.

“I’m sorry about all the fuss,” the boy said as he
handed over the bulging brown paper bags.

“It’s a farm,” said Nora, who had never raised a
child. Yet every day she imagined what might go
into growing one.


Marie G Coleman is a native New Yorker living in New
Hampshire. She teaches English at Nashua High School North.
She holds an MFA from Lesley University. Her work has
appeared in Pangyrus, Every Day Fiction, and Hippocampus.
SEPTEMBER 2020
SHORT STORY
CONTEST 2020
Honorable
Mention
$25 Award
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