Emilie on the Chairlift

Annette Dressel
Emilie on the Chairlift
Tick, Tock, Tick … Tock. Finally. The watch hand struck five o'clock. Only an hour until closing time. Quendula was sitting in the Valley Station behind the window reflecting upon what she could cook in the evening. A salad? But that wouldn’t suffice for Pfeiffer. For three years she had been engaged to him, however he hadn't yet proposed to her. Still not.
On the meadow beneath the mountain station Emilie was chewing her cud and shaking her head, annoyed. Every being, whether human, dog, cat, mouse, fox or hare, could roam freely; only she was imprisoned on this meadow.
Longingly she looked up to the chair lift above that ran straight overhead. How exciting it must be to be carried through the air without having her hooves touch the ground. To float up the mountain with the chair lift one time – just one single time – that was all that she dreamt about. Emilie was so absorbed by her daydreaming that she noticed the German Shepherd dog with raised hackles running towards her only after he had nipped her in the flank. In shock she jolted and jumped such that milk squirted out from her udder, while banging against the wooden fence whose stake gave way leaving a hole in the middle of the fence. For a moment she thought about going back onto the meadow, but then it became clear to her: the path was free. Beside herself with joy she kicked her hind legs, knocking the barking dog promptly unconscious, and then she ran off and away. If she hurried, she could reach the Valley Station before the lift got turned off.

Two minutes later at the police station in Lana the phone rang.
“Cow escaped, dog injured.” Such a thing had never happened to Pfeiffer in his entire career. Now, to retrieve a cow should not be a problem, not for him. He called the veterinarian who should take care of the dog and left his office looking forward to a ride on his motorcycle. The machine was big, heavy and loud. Since his childhood Pfeiffer had suffered from being small and skinny. Even his voice had never really developed into a masculine bass. With a roar he revved up the engine and rode off.

Meanwhile Emilie passed an inn on her way. Full of curiosity she glanced through an open window from which music floated out that tingled her hide like gentle stroking.
“Look there, Darling, a cow”, a lady called out. Emilie punished the lady with a look of contempt. She stared at a man sitting at a cabinet whose fingers danced over white and black keys. Next to him stood a lady whose voice sounded like a butterfly fluttering from blossom to blossom.

Several guests toasted each other at the top of their voices, however the singer did not betray any irritation, rather exchanged a glance with the musician, as if both of them were all by themselves. Their look exuded tenderness and a golden light, like that of the morning sun in a bank of fog, which swirled up towards the ceiling of the room where it remained for a moment before eventually curling around the two, like a cloak. The song had barely ended when the musicians grabbed two long-handled glasses that the waiter had placed on the cabinet, clinked with each other and drank. As if on cue, the wall clock at exactly that same moment released two sonorous tones. Five-thirty. The radio-commentator announced a report about a runaway cow. Engine sounds were nearing and one of the guests pointed at Emilie: “Stop her!”

Thus suddenly startled, Emilie turned herself around completely on her hind legs and disappeared. Nobody had thought her capable of such an elegant exit. All Pfeiffer saw was a steaming cow patty.

“If Pfeiffer captures the cow,” Quendula pondered, “in the evening he will brag again of his heroic deeds.” Still ten minutes remained until quitting time. She felt with the animal. Her boasting “hero” could become quite mean. Of all people, she had given her heart to him. Beside the thin man she appeared even bigger and wider than she already was. In the distance the engine howled. Straight through the cow patty Pfeiffer splattered, cursing that dumb cow. But just because Emilie was a cow didn’t mean at all that she was dumb. She escaped into a nearby grove in which an old female wild boar lived who, as Emilie knew, hated loud humans. Right as the confident policeman came rattling along, the boar darted out from the undergrowth and brought the noisemaker down.
“Crap!” Pfeiffer railed, trying to find his limbs again; he dug out his cell phone from his bag. “Cow underway towards Valley Station, policeman injured,” Quendula heard the radio commentator say in the six o’clock news. That must be an extraordinary cow, she thought, heaving her heavy body up out of the chair and turning off the chair lift. Then she stepped outside, stretched herself and didn’t even notice the animal approaching from behind her. Emilie had really hurried up but the detour through the grove had cost her time. The lift stood still! She had come too late. In her despair, she trotted towards the big, thick lady, who was then locking the doors to the Valley Station and gently bumped her back from behind her. Gently! Emilie was a very gentle cow. But Quendula was still frightened so much that she had to make an effort not to faint.

“Mooooo,” the cow sang quietly. At that moment Quendula was scared even more that she would pass out. The cow had sung! And a golden light radiated from the animal, merely the sight of which warmed her heart. Quendula lost herself in the depths of the cow’s eyes looking back at her longingly, and she understood:
“You want to ride on the lift?” Emilie inhaled. “But it’s already after six!” In the subsequent pause, she could have sworn to have seen a tear in the eye of the cow. Now, although Quendula was big, wide and not a person whom anyone would really call attractive, but in her chest was a beating heart full of love. Somehow she managed to heave Emilie onto the lift, go back into the rooms of the station and turn the lever around. Then the lift went upwards with the cow on the chair that sagged down very low when it was between the support masts.
When Pfeiffer came limping along, he could only look after the creature. Quendula later swore that in the face of the cow she had seen a smile. Since then, she can sometimes be seen sitting in the meadow with Emilie, and if one observes the two closely one just might think that Quendula was listening to the cow tell her something, or even sing for her.
Meanwhile Pfeiffer has proposed to her, but Quendula thinks they should not rush into anything.

Translation: Shannon Wardell
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