“The calf was facing the right way, but one of its legs was turned back underneath it, its shoulders were caught on the cervix. It was too big. Sonny remembered having helped his father pull a calf that was similarly positioned—they’d struggled for an hour, and when the calf finally emerged it was stillborn, nothing more than a calf-shaped weight. For three days they tried to coax the cow to her feet with offerings of hay and water, but she could not stand. She wouldn’t even try. Finally, they shot her, and Sonny helped his father hitch her to the truck and drag her to the bone pile. They stood there for a while, his father breathing hard from his growing emphysema, and Sonny shifting from foot to foot, impatient. He didn’t know then that he’d run cattle himself, or that he’d irrigate the same ditches his father walked each afternoon. He thought he’d join the Navy. He wanted to see the world.”
Read A.R. Rea’s “Following Slowly” along with an introduction from the guest editor Joshua Ferris starting tomorrow at Recommended Reading.