Fiction by Milena Jandreski ’23

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There are two types of rich, old money and new money. Luis Martin had old money – his family was like the Kennedys of France. The business was cows, beef to be exact, wagyu beef. Breeding the wagyu cows was tricky, to say the least, so many details went into the process. The cows were moody, too much or too little of one thing could make the meat taste muddled; the thought made Luis very angry.

Luis had children of his own, Marta and Thomas. Though, as you can imagine he wasn’t very involved, and neither was his wife. She was a free spirit who liked to run the card and leave for God knows how long. Poor Marta was far too much like her mother, and she loathed being told what to do. So the maids raised Thomas and the cows raised Marta.

The cows worshiped Marta like she was their deity, she would ride them like a horse and drink their milk like a newborn calf. Luis didn’t approve of this. The cows needed cool temperatures, vast grazing lands, and a fine variety of plants to sample. He simply thought Marta was getting in the way of this. On the contrary, Thomas was his favorite because he was obedient.

It was the summer of ‘98 and a particularly hot one, which meant stress for Luis. So in turn he hired a small group of teenage boys from the nearby village to help around the land. At this time, Marta was sixteen and Thomas’s eighteenth birthday had just passed. Marta loved the extra hands around her home because it meant it wasn’t just her and Thomas for once, but she hadn’t decided which farmhand she liked best.

Each night Luis would invite the boys in to eat dinner. No one would talk, and the only noise to be heard was the clink of silver to China. Marta had always Refused to eat the meat, she felt wrong about it. It made her feel sick but the thought of what the taste might be always tickled her. The meat just looked superior, with its fat swirled like marble. To deter these thoughts, Marta would often find distractions, and she had soon found a new one – one of the boys named Arthur. He was tall and had light brown eyes tinted with green.

In the morning when he arrived, Marta would get ready just so he could see her roaming around and think she was pretty. The problem was they rarely crossed paths, so she took it upon herself to force an interaction. If nothing more, she thought to herself, they must at least be friends. Marta woke in the cool early hours and sat by her window waiting to hear the humming engine of his small car arrive. When he did, she glued her eyes on him like an eagle and followed her gaze on where he went. Marta lept from where she was perched and hunted him towards the barn.

Before entering, it had occurred to her that she needed a reason to be there. Like basic instinct, she threw her hand down and grabbed a clump of grass. While Arthur was kneeling and lightly tracing a calf with his hands to gently wake it up, Marta rigidly walked towards him. He felt her gaze and turned to meet her eyes before quickly turning back around; this slightly bruised her ego. Before long, she sat directly beside him, handing him the grass. “What is this?” he asked, “are you stupid?” Slightly taken back, Marta could not utter a word, and the grass eased from her hand falling like feathers. Marta slumped and sat next to him silently. Eventually, she timidly reached her hand and petted the calf too. “Your hand,” Arthur said. Marta looked at him, puzzled. “It’s dirty,” he said as he grabbed a bucket and dunked her hand in it. “There, it’s clean,” he said. Marta was all sorts of confused by the saga of events that had just occurred, but she thanked him regardless.

Dinner that night was different. Thomas had noticed the way Marta curiously peered at Arthur. He had decided it was a good moment to stir up some family drama since he was bored. “So, Arthur,” he asked, “are there any pretty girls in the village? I was just wondering because Marta is so boring and I have nothing to do, so I think I could use a girlfriend.” Arthur perked up and Marta boiled with rage. If she could slap him, she would. Arthur, without hesitation, replied, “I think Bella Piche.” Thomas laughed, thanked Arthur, and turned to Marta, smirking. But she could not see him because she was shooting darts into her plate. Soon dinner was finished and the fiasco was over.

For the next week, Marta avoided Arthur at every opportunity possible and cursed Thomas’s name every time she saw him. All until Saturday of course, because on this particular day, her mother was arriving. Marta was on the porch in a chair rocking back and forth while reading, and Arthur just so happened to be walking her way when her mother’s car abruptly roared down the long dirt road. Immediately Marta bolted up, looking for a place to run to. She dashed towards the pastures searching for her favorite meadow, Arthur ran in suit, not really knowing why they were running.

They reached the meadow of trees, gasping for air, but before Marta could speak Arthur was already cutting her off. The much-feared interrogation had started. They sat down and Marta recounted everything she had ever disliked about her mother. What was ironic was the fact that Marta herself embodied most of these traits she complained about. It was funny that things had turned out this way, seeing as her mother was never there. Where Marta went, the cows followed and before long she and Arthur were surrounded.

The sun was blazing and the two of them began to get hot. “Here,” Marta said. She stood up and walked towards the plumpest cow. She bent down and laid under its belly for shade, drinking milk; Arthur soon followed suit and drank the milk as well. This particular cow was her favorite. Its name was Luisa and it was the mother to most of the cows they owned. This was because she was perfect for breeding and produced the calves with the best meat. Marta thought Luisa was special because she was the only brown cow, but Luisa did have a brown calf. Arthur and Marta hid away for most of the day and talked about everything they could possibly think of. The weeks following in suit were just as wonderful and the pair had become good friends – they were good for each other.

One day, Arthur and Marta seated themselves at the table early. Their cook, Anna, arrived in the dining room holding a steaming meat pie filled with the succulent wagyu beef Marta dreamed about. Silence now plagued the pair as they sat ogling the pie. Curiosity finally prevailed over Marta and she slowly reached a finger, dipping it into the pie without care, creating a small circle. Inside she reached for a small cube of meat, and as she pulled it out it gleamed like a small jewel. She greedily put it into her mouth, finally feeling fulfillment in knowing what it tasted like. As soon as that feeling had come, it vanished. Marta ran out and became very ill. Arthur tended to her as she cried, prophesying to him what a monster she was. Marta went to bed sick that night feeling extreme contempt for herself.

When she woke without changing or even taking a second glance, Marta calmly walked towards the barn to confess to the cows how guilty she felt. She thought about her favorite light brown cow Luisa and how she could have felt had she eaten her. More guilt overcame her yet she continued to the barn. When she entered she heard a calf weeping, as she got closer Marta broke down as she met the teary big eyes of a small brown calf.

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