The Boy and His Milk

The boy followed the man to the barn. The man pushed the ponderous door open and walked inside. The boy stopped at the barn door and watched, holding a plastic cup. The man slid through the dark with no hesitation, as comfortable here as he was walking around his home.

The man flicked on a blocky light switch — clunk — and the harsh illumination cut crisp shadows. He beckoned to the boy, and the six-year old scampered across the dirty floor to his father.

The man entered the pen and walked slowly to the ram. He held the syringe to the animal’s neck then pushed the plunger. The ram squirmed and bleated, but the man had a tight grip with his free hand. In a moment, the syringe was empty. Soon, the sedative dropped the ram to its knees.

He knelt down beside the animal. He plunged a larger syringe through the short wool and withdrew blood until the syringe was full. The man repeated this, each time emptying the syringe into a plastic jug. Finally, the jug was full. The man filled the syringe one more time.

“Give me your cup,” the man said.

The boy held out the cup he’d been holding. It was half full of milk. The man squirted the blood into the milk so the mixture now looked like strawberry milk.

The boy lifted the cup to drink, but his father stopped him.

“Remember. The sheep gave his blood so you can become strong. ‘The life of a creature is in the blood.’ And who is the giver of life?”

The boy paused. “God?”

His father nodded. “Go ahead and drink.”

The boy gripped the cup in both hands and tipped the glass up and drank. His Adam’s apple rippled up and down as he drained the cup. He finished his drink and smiled. His father smiled back.

“Let’s go back to the house,” the man said.

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