Ali grew up on her family’s Texas ranch, but it never felt like enough. She wanted to be a part of busy city life and see the world. She planned to move to San Antonio when she turned eighteen. She couldn’t wait to be surrounded by the beautiful energy she felt there. Her father, Jack, tried to make her understand this ranch was her legacy. Ali’s grandfather built their rustic six-bedroom home with the help of his hands, or the men he hired to help him with the animals on the ranch. The ranch was seven hundred acres of fenced in paradise that was home to hundreds of cows, sheep, and horses. To Ali, this so called “paradise” was hard work that began at four o’clock in the morning.
“Ali, I got a hand out tomorra, Ima need ya to help feed the livestock in the mornin,” Jack said over dinner.
“What? Come on daddy!” Ali whined slumping down in her chair.
“That’s enough Ali!” Jack shouted with his hands agressively hitting the wooden table. “You gotta learn how to take care of iss place in case you marry some city boi.”
“Daddy, I won’t live here when I’m grown! As soon as I graduate, I’m moving to San Antonio!” she shouted back.
“When are you gonna understand my daddy built this for us? For you, me, your kids, your grankids?”
“I don’t want it!” Ali yelled as she flew from the table and ran upstairs. She slammed her purple bedroom door, her face red with fury thinking about getting up before dawn to walk around in shit and carrying hay. “I can’t do this. I have to leave,” she said quietly to herself. “I’ll stay with Mandy.” She began to pack some clothes and walk to her best friend’s house. Amanda lived not far from the ranch, but she had a normal brick house with a normal yard. There were no animals to be tended, not even a dog. And Mandy never got cowboy boots for Christmas. Ali couldn’t wait for that level of normalcy. She put on her least country outfit- a black off-the-shoulder top, plaid pants, and sneakers. The she walked quietly out the back door.
Ali walked through the open pasture and around the red barn. She got to the pens, and she knew the livestock wouldn’t be locked up through the night. She bent over and climbed between the rails, took a few steps, and froze. There was a young bull right in front of her. She remembered that the young yearlings had to be separated from the older cows. This yearling looked the same to Ali as a grown one except the horns were small. It was solid black with a long face and massive shoulders. Ali could not move; what if it charges at her? At that moment, she wished she had paid more attention to how the hands handled the cows while they were in the pen. She took a small, slow step to the side. The bull took a small step towards her, never looking away.
For a moment rather than feeling only the fear, she looked at the bull- it’s face, it’s eyes. The light from the pole above the pen reflected the life in the animal. For that moment, they weren’t beast and prey. They were the same- two young creatures trying to understand their world and their imprisonment. She looked into the yearling’s eyes and saw exactly what she was feeling. It was afraid and alone. Ali took another step closer and slowly raised her hand up. She gently touched the cow’s nose with her fingertips. The world was still for that instant. The yearling turned and walked to the other side of the pen. Ali stood there watching it. For the first time, something understood her. She found something special about this life. She turned around, climbed back through the gate, and went back inside.
About the Creator
I am originally from Louisiana. I currently live in Oklahoma with my husband and son. I am a senior at the University of Oklahoma. I love grammar and proofreading, and I'd like to pursue that as well as professional writing.