Wethers by Lindz McLeod – Selected Flash Fiction

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Lindz McLeod is a queer, working-class, Scottish writer who dabbles in the surreal. She is the Competition Secretary of the Edinburgh Writers’ Club, as well as their Flash Fiction judge and occasional workshop host.  She is a fiction reader for Outlook Springs, a freelance editor, and recently became a Rogue Mentor to six talented mentees. She very rarely sleeps.

I’m the first person the wethers see after they get cut, so I always try to be in a good mood. I pet the bucks in the morning as usual, give ear scratches to my favourites, and then I head into the barn to wait. Daddy bought me a little radio last winter. Wrapped it real nice under the tree, with my name on it and everything. Kyle always has it tuned to a right-wing news station and he gets pissy when I change it, but I don’t care. The wethers need all my positive energy. A single bee buzzes against the dirty window. 

The radio whines when I turn the dial. The first shriek cuts through the air, sharp and high. White noise helps but doesn’t cover the bleating completely. I zone in on a signal, jiggle it back and forth to get a decent sound on the song. I don’t recognize this tune so I walk around the barn, pacing the square space, dragging my fingers across the colored bottle of chemicals on the shelves, pressing my thumb against an old ink stain that never came out and which I always expect to stain my hand. It never does. 

The song whispers into a more familiar guitar strum, and I raise my hands above my head, let the refracted light play over my body as I dip and curl in the downy air. The first wether won’t be long now. I’ll greet him with a hug, pet him, reassure him. Whisper soft sounds of consolation. Tell them about all the farms they’re going to see, the kids they’re going to make happy now they’ve been gentled. How they’re going to get treated so good. They like it when I whisper to them; that’s why the goats follow me across the field and not Kyle, no matter how much he yells or how hard the dog drives them. My sneakers squeak as the drums kick in, and the grimy sun casts a horned shadow on the sawdust floor.

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