If We Were Someone Else

My father would’ve worn faded work-jeans: picking out a different pair every morning from his cycle of Wranglers, each of them bearing the circles of Copenhagen impressions on their back-pockets; and I would’ve called him ‘Daddy’ as we tipped our hats against the wind and walked through the pasture towards our cattle huddled by the bank of a small pond, their muzzles wet from the water.

Our lives would’ve been filled with rope and sharpened metal, with calluses growing thicker, every day, into our hands.

And whenever we saw, within our herd, the young bulls unsuitable for breeding—their little nuts and slim shoulders—it wouldn’t have been ourselves we saw reflected there. Walking towards them, with our hands held out, we would’ve slipped ropes around their necks, one by one, before tying them to poles made of oak, thoughtlessly. ‘We used to cut the nuts clean,’ he would’ve said while showing me how for the first time, ‘but there were risks: the poor thing might bleed out if you cut the cord wrong, and even if you didn’t, there were still the flies. You’d slice the sack off nice and clean, only to come back and find a whole mess of maggots in the wound. I’m telling you, that’d get you upset. The sight of it.’

Never would he have worried about some unknown meaning within his words, ‘Now we just wrap the nuts with a band. Much cleaner that way. No blood. Painless, too.’

And, while helping him wrap the bands, I would’ve felt a rush of nerves come over me whenever it was my turn to apply them all alone, and the steers would’ve jumped as I took them into my hand—would’ve fought against the rope, crying to nothing as the bands snapped to.

This story originally appeared in NANO Fiction 7.2. Pick up your copy today.


Travis Vick's poetry and fiction have appeared in Booth, Burningword, Eunoia, Gone Lawn, H_NGM_N, Out of Our, Sand, Whiskey Paper and others. He currently works in a diaper factory, volunteers teaching adults how to read (mostly using the poetry of Roethke, J. Wright, and Oppen as material;) and lives alone in Texas.