“Do you think the sheep mind that we’re using them in place of therapy?” I ask Lo.
Alfalfa hay in place, I stick my hand through the gap of the low-slung fence, but most of the white, fuzzy creatures are deep in slumber. Why wouldn’t they be? They can always count each other.
My stepsister wraps her arms around herself, lost at sea within her numerous layers of clothing. She’s always cold these days. To get warm, she orbits around the sheep pen like a moon.
“Keep counting,” she drawls. “You probably need to reach a certain number. You’re still wide awake at sheep #20, but you’ll go right the fuck to sleep by #100.”
I sigh, but don’t remind her that her mother only owns about thirty sheep or so.
A lamb walks up to me with unsure steps and a curious gaze.
“Are you the one?” I coo as it nuzzles my palm to get its treat. It’s the softest thing ever, but it doesn’t make me feel any different. My eyes are still dry and itchy, my brain whirring-buzzing-groaning like a machine.
Maybe sheep twenty-eight is the magic number. Sheep twenty-nine.
“Try going into the pen,” Lo says. “Perhaps the sheep will huddle around you and breathe on you or something.”
I can’t help the smile tugging at the corners of my mouth. “How very biblical.”
“Look, we’re just spitballing here.”
Lo perches on a wooden post and pulls down her hoodie to cover her knobby knees and twig legs. When she’s not looking, I grip the edge of her oversized cardigan. The night is mild, but if the wind picks up, it might carry her away.
My eyes wander to the cottage with the white-washed walls and dark windows, home of our newly formed family. Neither of our respective parents is aware of our night excursions. It doesn’t matter that we’ve only known each other for a year, or that we’ve been sort-of-siblings for a month. Lo is someone I trust to, well, not fix my problem, but give it a gallows-humor twist.
But she still won’t trust me.
She still won’t eat.
Avra Margariti is an author, queer activist, and Social Work student from Greece.