[First published in 2017 as “The Cows of Black Rock City,” this edition will appear along with many unpublished stories in a collection of shorts for Varanasi Sage — Due out in July!]
Twinkling lights strung around its frame, chain clicking in a dry loop, my bike created tracks on tracks in the dust, crossing tracks without pattern or reason.
In the dark of night, the high desert mirrors the sky; although the stars on the ground are colored, moving and spinning, dancing chaotically. In the dark expanse, we put on our lights and become technicolor shooting stars.
By week’s end, the thin layer of dust on my bike will gather to look as though it had been left forgotten in the recesses of a workman’s garage. Dust on my clothes, my skin and my hair, in my nose, ears and lungs. By week’s end, I, too, caked with dust, will look old and forgotten.
A herd of cows appears. Dim lights twinkle from their insides, differentiating them from the dust and darkness. Stationary, unafraid, wooden skeletons wrapped in translucent nylon.
In the darkness of the playa, amongst dust and art, these are the lucky ones. Peaceful bovines, sacred cows, abundant goddesses of nourishment. Their twinkling lights, the same as my own; viewing passing delights. Busses dressed like sheep and lighthouses, cars like genie lamps, golf cart abstract art, and bodies radically expressing themselves.
Our shared reality outside this city — the distortion of divine nature, the degradation of life by human command. Here they are not an exploitable object; a living, feeling being trapped in a pit of manure, in line for a violent death, never having eaten a blade of grass or stepped hoof in a meadow. I am a lucky one, in the darkness of the playa, amongst dust and art; not trapped in a war torn city, used as a human shield.
The sadness of contrast, a melancholy inspection, thoughts and emotions rising from the depths of another’s creation. Here in the dust — in the middle of nowhere — surrounded by darkness and lights.
3 thoughts on “The Lucky Ones”
hi, Chelsea how are you? You like a painter (thousands of colors in the picture of a painter, so there are thousands of colors in your story) Your year’s theme, Varanasi Sage looks beautiful & interesting. Varanasi (my home town) as a banarasi (Varanasi citizen This is my prayer KASHI KRIPA ON U )
Hello! Thank you for reading and writing this comment. I am honored by your compliment. Thank you for reading and thank you for your prayer. My hope is that I am able to create the Varanasi Sage that would reflect the peace of the Buddha.