It’s drizzly cold—winter’s coming on. Greg Pearson cajoles the stragglers through the gate onto the track to the milking shed. The keenest, Belle, Ma and Daisy, are already at the shed. These at the back he  calls ‘you mongrel’. Apart from Cora, the most cantankerous of the lot. He likes Cora.

In its way the repetition of the milking cycle is what’s kept him from falling apart since June left. ‘I need some time by myself,’ she’d said. And she’d told him a few home truths. ‘You’re not a bad man, Greg. Don’t get me wrong. But a marriage—it’s two people.’ Even after the tortured night that followed it was up at five and off to milk.

The farm’s looking better than ever now. He spends his days working hard to forget. In the evening there’s milking again then the accursed paperwork. He never appreciated—that word again—how often she said it. So many things he could have done better.

As he comes over the rise from the bottom paddock there’s a light on at the house. Smoke rises from the chimney. Though he feels sick to his stomach he quickens his pace. Because she is back, even for tonight, and that’s something he had begun to think would never happen.

 

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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