How To Milk An Alpaca by Judy Darley
1. Don’t. Why would you ever milk an alpaca? Their yield is unimpressive and their teats small, which means you’ll be flapping around down there while the animal gets increasingly fractious and Adya grows bored. Her attention may wander elsewhere when you want it nowhere but on you.
2. If you really must milk the alpaca, focus on the alpaca, not the milking. Approach with such tenderness that the animal emits the soft burbling humming that indicates it is happy and relaxed. Make sure Adya knows that’s what the sound means. Suggest she pets the alpaca while you get down to business. Give the impression you know exactly what you’re doing.
3. Consider the receptacle. Buckets may be fine for goats and cows, but in this case, the vessel you’re aiming at is Adya’s heart. Milk directly into a bag-gloved hand, so you can catch each precious droplet that appears.
4. Under no circumstances allow Adya to have a go at milking. It would be like when Raquel Enso was found to have ‘feminine hygiene products’ in her backpack, only so much worse.
5. Emerge triumphant. Hold the pool of milk in the bag-gloved hand and shyly ask Adya if she would like a taste. If she looks disgusted, withdraw and move directly to step 6. If, however, she says yes, encourage her to dip a forefinger into the milk and take a lick. Consider making eye contact as she does this, but be ready with a joke (clean) in case tension needs breaking.
6. Feed the remaining milk to the alpaca’s cria. Explain to Adya that ‘cria’ is the term for an alpaca’s baby. Say ‘baby’, not ‘young’, and not ‘offspring’.
7. Ask Adya what she does in her spare time, after school, with no alpacas to take care of. Look interested. Say you’ve never been to the mall. Giggle when she looks shocked. Accept her invitation to go with her and the other girls next time.
8. Watch her walk away. Look down at your scuffed cut-offs and dusty knees. Compare them with Adya’s smooth shiny legs. Decide that, if she asks, you’ll let her give you a makeover.
9. Stroke the cria and its mum. Check the gate is secure. Head to your next chore.
10. Never ever write this list down.
Judy Darley is a British writer who can't stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. Her work appears in magazines and anthologies in the UK, New Zealand, US, and Canada, including The Mechanics' Institute Review, Unthology 8 and SmokeLong Quarterly. Valley Press will publish her second collection, Sky Light Rain, in November 2019. Judy has shared her stories on BBC radio, as well as in cafés, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church.