Flash Fiction Challenge: Greener Pastures

Photo by K.S. Brooks

Henrietta the Hereford was not a contented cow. Gertrude and Mildred and the others could stand around all day chewing their cuds and gossiping about the same old things. Henrietta wanted more.

She wondered things, thought about things. She was an aspiring cow philosopher of sorts.

Right now, she’s wondering why that grass on the other side of the fence looks so much greener.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Greener Pastures”

  1. Emma Moocow, handsome, clever, and creamy rich, with a comfortable pasture and placid disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

    She was the youngest of the two calves of a most affectionate, indulgent bull; and had been herdtress of his pasture from a very early period. Her moother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her cowresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as milkmaid.

    Sixteen years had Miss Milker been in Mr. Moocow’s family, less as a milkmaid than a friend, very fond of both calves, but particularly Emma. They had lived together as milker and milkee very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Milker’s judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.

    Sorrow came—a gentle sorrow—but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness.—Miss Milker was replaced by a mechanical device. It was Miss Milker’s loss which first brought grief. It was on that milking-day that Emma first stood in mournful thought of any continuance. The milking over, and the dairy-people gone, her father and herself were left to chew the cud together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost.

  2. Henrietta rested her chin on the top rail of the fence and gazed longingly at the adjacent pasture. A soft breeze blew across the field causing the delicate blossoms of alfalfa to sway gently. She dreamed, as always, that one day she could magically pass through the fence like a spirit and in her mind she fancied herself simply gliding gracefully over the fields being gently taken by the wind, like a leaf or a dandelion puff floating through the air carried on invisible currents of air.

    Henrietta studied a small puffball as it danced near her. It bobbed and weaved its way toward her skimming the field until it took a sudden jump up and landed on her noise. She snorted and the delicate collection of seeds blew apart and scattered in all directions. “Eureka,” she exclaimed – though it came out simply as “Moo!”

    Backing away from the fence, Henrietta carefully check the wind direction. When the wind direction was exactly right, she charged the fence with a mighty, “Moo!” The fence rails scatted in every direction, just like the puff ball as she blasted through the rotten wood into the adjacent pasture. “Cow Power!” She bellowed triumphantly, but again it was simply “Moo” that was heard.

  3. Title: El Toro Pooh Pooh

    The more she studied the field on the other side of the fence, the more Gertrude and Mildred gossiped about her. They called her Henrietta the old philosopher. However, she didn’t consider herself old at all. She had come to a conclusion why the grass was greener, but she wasn’t going to share it with the others. No, she had a plan to get what she really wanted.

    It was Mad Max who was really the focus of her attention. However, it was safer if they just thought she was studying the greener grass.

    Unfortunately for her, Max kept his distance. Each morning, she would longingly rest her head on the fence rail. As much as she wanted to eat the grass with the others, she couldn’t stop longing for Max. She was worried that farmer John was going to do something drastic, because he complained her milk production wasn’t what it should be.

    This morning, Max snorted and stomped the ground. Today was different; something tingled in her body. Would this be the day he would see her and want her as much as she wanted him? However, she was upset because he should be the one taking the initiative.

    She had worked the top rail loose. She was going to ask Max if the grass was greener because of all his bull sh*t. It was a very simple plan, but it should get him more focused.

  4. Being a good cow philosopher, though, Henrietta knew the grass was always greener on the other side. She also knew she was bored with her cud chewing existence.

    People had often looked in her eyes and wondered why they looked vacant, even to the point of thinking cows were food; had no souls.

    Henrietta decided she would prove to the world they had souls, but first she had to call her friends to help – after all humans were so dense about recognizing souls. She called out to her alien friends to come visit again by staring into space and concentrating hard. After all, they could read minds. The only problem was, whenever she (or another) asked for knowledge or help, the ‘others’ asked for a sacrifice (something about advancing science). She just hoped it would be one of her unenlightened cow friends and not one of those who were trying to reach Nirvana through meditation and cross-cultural understanding among species.

    Such are the risks of a common cow. Who knew?

  5. The grass was different than it had been last week, she was sure this time. Henrietta savored the taste, let it press itself against her tongue.

    “Bess! Tell me you can taste it.”

    “I swear to Hathor, if you don’t stop–“

    “But taste it!”

    “It tastes like grass, Heni. Just eat.”

    After dinner the other cows gathered in a circle below the oak that stood, ancient and dying, in the middle of the field. They muttered with the low grumbling of annoyed cattle.

    “We have to do something.”

    “Maybe we can…you know.”

    The other cows glanced at the Ayrshire that teetered between her hooves and glanced nervously at the ground.

    “You know. Send her. Like Jake.”

    Only one of them gasped.

    “It is greener over there.”

    “Maybe she’d like it.”

    “Well, she can’t stay here. That talk is disturbing the calves.”

    “She is quite disturbing.”

    “She’s scaring the children.”

    “Mine are afraid the farmer is poisoning them!”

    “It’s settled then.”

    There was no more talk.

    That night, while Henrietta slept, the cows spread out a blanket, rolled her onto it, bit the corners, and dragged. Down the hill, around the bushes, through the hole in the fence the farmer had never seen, across the pasture, through another fence, and rolled her down the mossy ravine.

    They were gone when the farmer dumped the noxious liquid on the hay.

    “It’s better this way,” they told each other as they tramped back.

    “We can’t have her scaring the children.”

  6. Henrietta stretched her lovely white face on its brown, bovine neck as far as she could. She was oh-so-careful not to move laterally – the barbed wire on the fence was inconsiderate about poking holes in a girl’s hide. All she wanted was to reach that gorgeous clump of green deliciousness barely beyond reach of her mobile tongue and lips. Was that so much to ask from life?
    Across the field, behind her, men loaded the unfortunates chosen for this week’s ‘bad ride.’ Henrietta ignored them, in spite of the piteous cries from her aging, now-barren friends Gertrude and Mildred as they were hustled into the truck. Henrietta knew her turn would come, but before it did she wanted more from life than the desiccated hay and sparse, picked-over growths in this field. She did not know why, but she believed: the grass on the other side would surely taste better – fresher. Cleaner. Free.
    Blowing a great sigh, Henrietta lifted her head and stepped back from the fence for a moment. Beyond her painful boundaries, the fields rolled in gentle, green waves, their flow to the dusty azure of the distant .mountains interrupted only by a line of trees that followed a creek.
    The truck was loaded. The cowboys slammed the gates and locked them; the driver honked twice. The herd purposefully ignored the terrified lowing of their members making the final journey.
    Henrietta pushed carefully at the barbed wire again. She would taste that clump before her turn came.

  7. Henrietta lifted her head from the water trough. Droplets beaded on her pink nose and made ripples as some fell back into the water. She extended her large tongue and curled it up to poke into first one and then the other nostril to remove the water which had gone up her nose. Gertrude and Mildred walked up.

    “Can you believe the airs that Elsie is putting on?” Gertrude said.

    “I know. All because she got her picture plastered on a milk carton. I was up for the part but, you know, you’ve got to have connections,” said Mildred.

    Gertrude said. “I heard it had something to do with that new bull in the other field,”

    “Do tell.”

    Henrietta flicked a fly off her back and ambled over to the fence. She had better things to do than listen to gossip. Take that thick patch of tall grass just over the fence, so out of place among the sparse shorter grass surrounding it. Two days earlier it had not been there.

    Her dark brown eyes got a philosophical look. Was it a sign from the bovine deity Hathor? It wasn’t the work of those round objects which left circles in the field, too irregular.

    She noticed two men examining the patch.

    One man spoke, “Bob, I think we’ve found that leak in the septic system.”

    Henrietta wished she understood human speech. It might help her inquiries into the meaning of the greener grass and the universe.

  8. Swallows flitted across the meadow on the far side of the fence. Henrietta leaned her head on the barrier and watched them soar. It was so much greener over there. Of course everything else looks greener when you’re stuck in prison. Gertrude and Mildred didn’t care. They were too dumb to notice, but Henrietta noticed. Ever since the night those strange creatures flew down from the stars and poked at her, Henrietta had begun to look at her life in ways she never even considered. It was as if a door had opened in her mind.

    Most of the other cows thought only of chewing their cud, content to be herded to the machine that stole milk meant for their children. They didn’t even realize they were in a prison camp. All the other cows saw was limitless food. No matter that their children were taken away. Even Henrietta had forgotten about her calf until the strangers helped remind her.

    And when the cows stop producing milk, what then? There was no happy retirement for their lifetime of slave labor. Dried up cows got trucked away, never to be seen again.

    Well, Henrietta wasn’t going to wait to be taken to the slaughterhouse. She was going to escape and fly free like the swallows, maybe even find her calf. The plan was ready. Her rabbit friends loosened the fence post. All she needed to do now was convince the bear to yank it down. Shouldn’t be hard at all.

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