The sheep, who was not a sheep

There was once a cow.

‘I’m not a cow, I’m a sheep,’ he’s telling me.

He looked like a cow.

‘So do you but I’m not jumping to conclusions.’

There was once a ‘sheep’.

‘Not in inverted commas. You can always tell someone else’s story, you know.’

There was once a sheep.

On the whole he was content but he had some issues, as you may have guessed.

The sheep made friends with a little boy.

The boy saw him chewing on the cud. He heard him make the odd involuntary moo.

But he didn’t ask any questions. He enjoyed the sheep’s company and that was all he needed to know.

When his parents asked him what was going on, he pretended not to understand.

‘Well? Is he a cow or a sheep?’ they asked.

‘He is who he is,’ replied the boy.

‘And what is that?’ they persisted.

‘My friend,’ said the boy, simply.

The pair spent a happy Summer together, building pirate ships and timing each other to run to the tree at the top of the hill and back.

The sheep spoke of his dreams to be in rugs and jumpers one day and the boy listened.

They made each other laugh.

The sheep told his what-do-you-call-a-sheep-with-no-legs:a-cloud joke and the boy told his what-do-you-call-a-chilly-cow:fresian joke.

‘I don’t get it,’ said the sheep. ‘Is a Fresian a breed of cow?’

And so it may have continued until one night the boy couldn’t sleep and was counting sheep and the (cow) sheep popped up, leaping over the fence.

‘I’m sorry,’ said the little boy. ‘But you’re going to have to lie down for a while.’

And with that, he led the sheep to the side of the dream field and patted him on the head.

The sheep sat sadly for a long time as the boy drifted off to sleep.

When the sun began to rise, he pressed his wet nose against the boy’s face to wake him up.

‘Accept me,’ he said to the boy.

‘I do accept you,’
the boy replied. ‘Accept yourself.’

‘I am not a cow,’
said the sheep.

‘No, you are not,’ agreed the boy.

‘I am a sheep,’ said the sheep.

‘No, you are not,’ disagreed the boy.

‘I am a sheep, who is not a sheep,’ announced the sheep, who was not a sheep.

‘Yes,’ said the boy. ‘That is what you are.’

And the boy pulled the sheep, who was not a sheep, under his duvet and sang their song to him- an old number by Billie Holiday with Lester Young on tenor sax.

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