A mixture of confusion and distress went through the young boy’s brain as he stared at the troubling sight in the mirror. This wasn’t the first time he had seen it. No, he had seen it so many times now that he looked for it each morning, first thing. There, on the crown of his head, right side, it stood like a defiant weed ruining the tidiness of a well-kept garden. It was the dreaded Cowlick. He placed his hand down over it, holding it in place for a very impatient few seconds. When he removed his hand however, up the menace sprang. He tried everything a young boy could think of (short of cutting his hair): dampening it with water, toothpaste, hair gel, petroleum jelly, peanut butter, and so on.

“Mom!” he yelled in no particular direction.

“Yes dear,” she called back from who knows where.

“It’s doing it again…”

“Have you tried taking a shower?”

The boy went sour and grumbled, pushing out his bottom lip. “Who has time for a shower anymore?” he thought. Sure, a shower would work, but what if someone were to rub his head at school, or what if he brushed it up against something, or worse, what if it just popped back up on its own? What was to stop it then?

He walked into the kitchen where his mom was pouring some milk into a bowl of cereal.

“It’s just not fair,” he groaned as he sat down to eat the cereal.

“What’s that?” she said minding her business without looking over at him.

“This!” he said, plucking his hand across the standing hair.

She glanced over at him long enough to see, then she resumed her work.

“Oh, relax,” she said. “You’ll grow out of it. Lots of people have them.”

“Nobody has one as bad as mine,” he pouted, stirring his cereal and plunging his cheek down into his fist.

The boy’s mind wandered aimlessly for a moment. He didn’t remember being licked by a cow. Such a peculiar event, he thought, would certainly be fresh in memory.

“Why do they call it a cowlick?” he asked, still not eating his cereal.

“Maybe a cow comes and licks it every night,” she said without the faintest sense of amusement.

The boy’s eyes widened and he jerked his head over to her. Her lack of concern to the possible presence of barnyard animals lurking in the house at night was astounding. He looked down at his cereal.

“It is surely poisoned,” he thought. “She’s not gonna brainwash me.”

So, that night, the boy decided to stay up all night long and see if there really was something strange in the house. He made sure to sleep through every class at school so that he wouldn’t become drowsy as the night went on. The first few hours were quiet and brought no cause of concern. As the night crept on, however, the boy’s eyes became weary, and he felt that he might have taken on a task which he might not be able to accomplish.

Sometime after midnight, his eyes slowly began to shut, until he was in a transition state of being awake and being asleep. His mind began to wander into dreams, and he fought back less and less with every long doze.  Then, a firm, creaking sound woke him up fully. He listened closely to the sound, and he began to make out very peculiar footsteps. They clicked as they touched the floor like heels, though he knew his mother had no reason to be walking through the house at night in heels. He arranged a few pillows in his bed until they resembled a body, then he crept over to the corner of the room. Finally, as the steps came closer, his door swung open slowly, and a large creature with an oddly shaped head walked into the room on all fours. It came over to the edge of the bed, flinching as it grew closer. Then, right before it brought its head down onto the bed, the boy flicked the light switch and shouted.

“Aha!”

The creature, which he now knew was most certainly a cow, spun around rather quickly and convulsed violently.

“Oh dear!” it shrieked “Oh my!”

“What are you doing in my room,” the boy questioned.

“Um..um…well…you see,” the cow stammered.

“Go on, spit it out.”

“Well…I was…um…well…I was…looking for…the kitchen…YES! I was looking for the kitchen!”

“What would a cow want from our kitchen?”

“What would I want…” the cow scoffed nervously. “Yes I do suppose that is a good question. Well, you see…um…I was hoping to find…um…some…milk…”

“Milk?!”

“Yes…cows like milk too you know…we find it very strange to drink our own milk…”

“We only have almond milk.”

“ALMOND MILK! I mean…uh….Yes! Almond milk. That is precisely what I was looking for. We cows grow tired of our own milk, and almond milk is a great alternative.”

“That seems rather strange to me…”

The cow eyed the door nervously and tried inching its large body toward it.

“Yes it does seem strange,” said the cow, “but it’s the truth.”

“Hmm,” said the boy. “Why were you looking so intently at my bed?”

“Well…um…you see…”

“I’m starting to get impatient, cow. You better start talking.”

“Well…I…um…”

The cow looked over at the door, which was now being blocked by the boy. Finally, after a wild stare, the cow sighed.

“I suppose I have been found out,” said the cow. “There has been a drastic cut in the need for cow milk lately. We cows have grown so weary of the lack of need that we have all slowly started to turn to a life of addiction.”

“Addiction? Addiction to what?”

“Oh lots of things. We have started to turn to alternate lifestyles to occupy our minds. Cows everywhere are resorting to all sorts of drastic measures to keep them from growing insane. Crime, pills, chicken, young boy hair…”

“What did you just say?”

“Chicken. Oh yes, some cows have taken the cause of eating chicken very valiantly. Their thought is that if they eat chicken, maybe more people will choose chicken rather than beef.”

“No no no. Not the chicken. You said boy hair.”

“Did I? Well, what do you know.”

“Listen cow, I’m on to your little scheme, and no amount of excuses can free you from what you’ve done. Look at this!” The boy pointed to his hair. “Do you see what you have done to me?”

The cow cast down its eyes.

“I am truly sorry about what I have done. There is no excuse for such a thing. I used to be a good cow. Upstanding in my community. And now look at me. Sneaking in houses late at night to lick a young boy’s hair, only to lie about drinking almond milk.”

The boy looked at the cow and began to feel sorry for it.

“It is alright cow.”

“Oh how wretched is my life!” groaned the cow. “First the goats! Now us! Oh, why? Someone please tell me! Why? ALMOND MILK!!!”

“Cow, you must quiet down,” consoled the boy. “You will wake my parents!”

“Oh they will pay no mind to a worthless brute such as I! Oh, the horrendous state of my miserable existence! All the years of loyalty, for what? The humans have chosen the nectar of an almond! They shamed us with chocolate, now this!”

“Be silent, cow!”

“Oh how can I be silent when such calamity has stricken my very bones?!”

“You will be silent!”

The cow ceased its mourning and began to sniffle.

“I am sorry. If only there were something I could do to take back what I have done.”

The boy stood for a moment, looking intently at the cow.

“Perhaps there is a solution,” he said

“What would that be?”

“Perhaps I could milk you? My parents will never know! Of course, the milk they drink has vanilla, so I would have to mix vanilla in with your milk in order to convince them. They eat tasteless food all the time just to stay healthy. They will pay no mind to the taste as long as they believe it is healthy.”

“Oh my boy! But it is healthy! There is no other milk like it on the earth!”

“In exchange, you will stop licking my hair. If I catch you trying again, the deal is off.”

“A cow’s honest word!”

So, the boy found a place to milk the cow where no one could find him. Each day, he milked the cow and swapped it out for the almond milk. Over time, more cows began to come, and the boy milked them as well. Even a few goats came by. The cows began an addiction recovery program, and the aid of being milked brought tremendous joy to them. From that point on, they kept true to their promise. The boy’s hair was never licked again.

 

 

 

 

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