Reading Time: 4 minutes
He missed Cow. Cow always left the biggest dandelions for him and she always gave him space. This new one hung around too close. And looked at him funny. Like he wanted something. Cow always looked like she wasn’t sure what was going on. That made Donkey feel smart.
“Whatcha doin’ over there?”
That was another thing. Cow never asked him questions. Donkey just looked back at the other one. I’m judging you, that’s what I’m doing. He finished chewing and replied: “I’m eating what’s left of these dandelions over here.”
“Oh,” the other one said, nodding. “You know they grow back better if you leave some of the smaller leaves. That’s why I didn’t actually finish those.”
“Well, this is all that’s left and I was hungry.”
“Oh,” the other one turned his head slowly, surveying the fenced in field. “Yeah, well, they grow back faster if you don’t eat all the leaves.”
“Like I said – I’m hungry.”
“There’s a bunch of dry hay over there.” The other one nodded toward the lean-to shelter where the water trough was. “I don’t like hay much.”
“Thanks.” Donkey said, snorting. “Me neither. I’ll just chew on these dandelions.”
The other one just stared at him, like he was some kind of moron. Not like Cow; not like he was a moron just staring, but like he was staring at a moron. Donkey lifted his chin and looked down his nose back at him.
“Why don’t you act like Cow.”
“Because,” the other one said, tilting his head sideways. “I’m a donkey.”
“But I’m Donkey!”
The other one just looked at him, chewing. What was he chewing? Probably the last of the big dandelion leaves. He missed Cow.
Donkey felt a little sick. He’d come out early in the morning and grazed the entire field. He finished all the dandelions. The other one had carefully left a few leaves on each plant. Donkey made sure to eat them all. It was more than he normally ate in the morning. His stomach felt bloated.
He walked over to the shelter and drank some water from the trough. He hoped it would settle his stomach but it just made him feel sloshy in the middle. Donkey heard the other one come out while he was drinking.
The other one stopped and looked one direction, then the other, and then the other. He stood for several minutes. Donkey took another drink, even though he wasn’t thirsty. The other one stood there, halfway out into the field. Donkey dipped his nose into the trough, not drinking, just holding his nose a couple of inches above the water.
He heard the other one blow a deep breath out his nose, then start walking toward the shelter. Donkey could feel him approaching from behind. Donkey shifted his feet and lifted his nose out of the trough, bracing himself against the other one’s arrival. But the other one stepped to the side of the shelter and began eating the dry hay.
Donkey could hear him chewing. He hated that. He could hear the straws snapping and the other one’s teeth grinding against each other. Donkey’s stomach already felt queasy, but listening to the other one eat made him truly nauseous. Why did he have to stand so close? Couldn’t he wait until Donkey was done drinking? Of course, Donkey wasn’t actually drinking – he was just standing there.
He looked over at the other one eating the dry hay. The other one would be getting thirsty soon. Dry hay makes your tongue feel rough and scratchy.
Donkey took a step back and lowered his head toward the ground. He rubbed his nose in the mud and then washed it in the trough. He did this a few more times until the water was all cloudy and brown, then he walked away and stood by the fence across the field.
After a couple of minutes, the other one walked to the trough. Donkey watched him standing there, looking down at the dirty water. Donkey felt sick.
“Hey,” the other one said. Donkey couldn’t tell if he was talking about straw or trying to get his attention. “I’m sorry about cow.”
“What do you mean?” Donkey asked.
“I know you miss Cow. I’m sorry about that.” The other one explained. “It must be hard.”
“Yeah,” Donkey said. “It was better when she was here.” He couldn’t help the bitter edge. He wished the other one would just keep to himself.
“I always lived alone,” the other one said. “I never had a friend before.”
You still don’t. Donkey thought.
Donkey imagined what it would be like to be all alone. He wouldn’t have to share any dandelions, he wouldn’t have to listen to someone else chew, he could stand wherever he wanted without being bothered – it didn’t sound too bad, actually. He closed his eyes and pictured how nice that would be, but after a minute he missed Cow.
Cow didn’t say much. She was slow, and quiet, but she always left the dandelions – she knew he liked them. And she was always there. Not too close, but always around. Donkey never felt alone.
“I’m sorry I ate all the big leaves,” the other one said. “I’m not used to sharing.”
“Okay,” said Donkey.
“Man washed out the trough, so the water’s clean now,” the other one said. “And I left some of the fresh hay for you.”
The other one looked at him for a moment, but Donkey just stared back. He wasn’t sure what to say. The other one twitched his nostrils and then turned and walked away. Donkey looked at the ground, then looked at the fence, then looked at the other one.
“Hey!” Donkey said. “Donkey!”
The other one turned.
“Thanks.” Donkey said.
“Your welcome.” Donkey said, facing him.
“And I’m sorry I ate all the rest of the dandelions,” said Donkey.
“That’s okay,” said Donkey. “I understand.”
“I miss Cow,” said Donkey.
“Tell me about her,” said Donkey.
Donkey thought for a moment, then laughed. “She was pretty dumb….”
This piece is dedicated to Cow, wherever she may be.