Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Goat Girl

Millie, what do you think?” Girl asked as she twirled in front of the mirror. “Does it become me?”
On the wooden hanger her new work uniform of short-sleeved shirt and navy blue trousers had looked smart, but hanging off her it just looked scruffy, as if she'd beaten it into submitting to her awkward frame and it was unwilling to be seen there.
Girl pouted a little at her reflection and pulled her tousled hair off her sun-kissed face into a low pony-tail. The elastic band snapped as she gave her hair a final tug and twanged across the stone floor.
Millie obediently trotted after it, picked one end of it up and delicately spat it in the nearby waste basket. This exercise was repeated often for Girl's thick, fizzy mane refused to be tamed despite the amount she spent on over-priced styling products.
Oh well,” Girl sighed, rolling her eyes, “Perhaps they'll let me wear a scarf or my herding hat.” She laughed as she pictured herself sitting behind a reception desk greeting patients in her felt black hat. No, she couldn't do that, it would be unprofessional. She wished she could wear scrubs like the dental nurses, but at least the blue clogs they'd provided her with were comfy.
Girl was the first and only daughter of the Johns farming clan to leave the acres of farm and get a job in the nearest village. Her five brothers were all fine, strapping lads who enjoyed working the land and each expected to inherit the lion's share and not just one-fifth of it. Girl, it was assumed would marry out, become a neighbouring farmer's wife, or be content to stay under the thumb of her father or all five brothers, but Girl had grander ideas.
She rented a tiny stone cottage and accepted the first job she was offered and abandoned the family farm. She left all her things, except the clothes she was in, and sped off with three dairy goats in her muddy second-hand land-rover.
At first, Girl served behind the counter in the village shop and then the bakery before she landed herself a junior receptionist job with the son of a dentist who'd lately taken on his father's practice. She was to be trained by a Mrs Harris. The problem was as much as she wanted a change from being a dairy maid you couldn't get rid of the goat from Girl. She had an inquisitive goat-look, she chewed her jaw when she thought, skipped when she walked, and earth instead of blood ran through her veins. Village people however took to her unusualness as well as the three goats that came with her: Gwyneth and Norah, the twin snow white, and the dark mischievous Millie.
Gwyneth and Norah preferred to cultivate the front garden, but Millie was house trained. She was a sort of housekeeper-cum-chaperone-cum-companion who despite her eighteen goat years still thought she was young. Millie did the shopping, the washing, and the cleaning and she led in front when they dropped Girl off and picked her up from work. The villagers' eyes were out on stalks the first time they witnessed this little procession, but this was soon absorbed into village life. And once Girl was settled in her new dental role with hat and all, Millie even covered the reception desk in her lunch hour whilst Gwyneth and Norah did playground duty at the local primary school.
Girl never went back to her father's farm, but she always had three goats about her, and as villages go she was the most talked of character so much so that many, many years later, a plaque on the stone cottage was mounted which said: Girl and Three Goats, a content quartet.

*Inspiration taken from Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami