From Within by Richard Thomas

Cease, Cows

The first time they come to measure my son, he is only eleven years old. Two men knock on the door of our humble home that squats on the outskirts of Shell County, my boy and I eating macaroni and cheese, our eyes turned mid-spoon to the interruption. Outside the darkness is as black as pitch, matching their uniforms, their helmets slick, each of them with a measuring tape in their hands, dust devils spinning across the land—dirt and garbage lifting high up into the night.

They simply walk inside and lift the boy from his seat, one of them holding him as the other measures height, then width, then depth. They never speak, only nod at each other, and then retreat into the night, the door left open, silt slipping inside and across the floor on the heels of a soft breeze. I blink, the boy shrugs, and we…

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