(Photograph by Lynda Lehmann)
Suggested prompt...Tell the story of this photo.
"I don't care, Papa - I'll never eat another piece of beef as long as I live!" thundered Laurell as she stood before her grandfather with her fists on her slim hips.
"Now Laurell, it's the nature of things; the cycle of life." Beau Markey was reaching the golden years of his life and his dark brown hair was now a thick mixture of white.
"Not with Betsy it isn't. You knew I didn't want her to be slaughtered!" Tears flowed freely down her reddened cheeks. "She was going to be our new mild cow, Papa."
"You know we can't afford to get her to a bull and without a bull, Betsy was not going to be a milk cow."
"But I raised her from a calf; you told me she was mine!"
"I'll not apologize for trying to feed my family. You need to pull yourself together young lady."
Laurell turned and fled to the barn. Climbing the ladder to the hay loft, she collapsed on the hay and let the tears come. Having lived on the farm all of her 14 years, Laurell knew no animal was safe from slaughter. But she thought Papa knew how special Betsy was. Old Claira Belle - their current milk cow - was getting too old to produce milk, no matter how many times a day she was milked.
But now Betsy was gone and in a week, she would fill the shelves in the old deep freeze. Such was the farm life in the late 1970s.
After almost an hour of tears and curses, Laurell sat up and wiped her face with the tail of her shirt. Climbing down the ladder, she went into the horse corral and splashed water from the well onto her face.
Taking several deep breaths, she slowly walked back to the three-room log cabin were she lived with her elderly grandfather. Papa was sitting on the porch breaking beans.
Seeing Laurell walking toward the house, Beau sat his pan of beans on the porch floor. Laurell walked up the steps and looked at her grandfather. Inching toward his chair, she slowly sat down on his lap and hugged his neck.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you Papa - it was silly and childish of me." She lay her head on his shoulder.
"It's okay girl - I know life is hard for you here with me. You need a woman's guidance but all you have is a grizzly old man." His eyes started to moisten.
"You're not grizzly Papa - you're all the guidance I need. I love you."
"I love you and I only want the best for you."
Sitting in the silence of the darkening twilight, Beau listened to the steady heartbeat of his only grandchild - his only living relation. It had been a hard life for Laurell since her mother had died, but Sue Ellen had been gone for 10 years now. Laurell was growing up and Beau knew in that instant he would have to provide her with a woman's touch, one way or another.