Hello. My name is Sanne. I am fourteen years old. I have white skin and blonde hair and blue eyes and no diseases, which means I will command a high price when I am butchered. Today I auditioned for a play in school, and I really hope I get the part. It’s in a Greek Tragedy that we learned about in class called The Bacchae. I auditioned to be a mother who brings her son’s head on a pike to her father. I think that would be nice, marching around with a bloody head, and Mary would take a very nice picture of it, probably.

Mary is the staff photographer at the farm. She takes pictures of the things we do for the website and for the people who will buy us once we’re butchered. All farms need to do this, we learned in school, because the rich on the Outside care very much about where their food comes from. It’s important to them that they buy only happy animals, because that’s ethical. Also, the meat tastes better if it wasn’t stressed before it died.

That’s why we learn so much philosophy. It’s very important, the most important thing, that we be okay with death by the time it comes. Everybody dies, but only farm animals learn to love death first. Most people, especially rich people out on the Outside, are afraid of death. They’re still going to die, but they don’t know when. So they don’t know that they have to prepare. They put off thinking about it. They tell their children yes you’ll die but not for a very long time so don’t worry about it right now. Then by the time death comes for them they’re terrified. They procrastinated on accepting it and now it’s too late. That’s why being sold to a farm makes you one of the luckiest people on Earth.

Next week we’re going on a field trip to the museum. We’re going to get to see all sort of other ways that humans have lived throughout history. We learned about a lot of civilizations in school and now we’re going to see them, or what’s left of them; little pieces of tablet or books or mummies like how the Egyptians used to keep important dead people around forever. Dying is the only way to really live forever. You die and get eaten and your cells become fuel for someone else’s. Then they die and if they’re rich they get buried in the ground and get eaten by worms. So you tell me what you would rather: be human food or worm food?

Maybe I shouldn’t malign worms like that. It’s not that being worm food is bad. Worms are very interesting creatures and in science class we take care of a worm compost that we use to feed the garden. It’s amazing how just by eating and pooping the worms can make something that we can use to make our food. Then we eat it and poop, too. Then someone else eats us. I guess you could also say that you only have the choice between being human poop or worm poop. But humans use the energy that food gives them to do things besides poop, too. Maybe the people who eat me will be in a play. Rich people have time to make art, on the Outside, so they could be in a play or a band or make paintings or whatever they want. So as well as hopefully being in The Bacchae when I’m fourteen, maybe I’ll be in a play after I’m dead too. The energy of my meat and fat fueling art, the highest calling of humanity.

I auditioned for the play with my friend Alina. We held hands tightly in the waiting room because we were both nervous. We’re going to be nervous before we die too. It’s just one of those things; having some anxiety before you do something or before something happens to you is normal. The important thing is to be able to harness it and use it to your advantage. That’s why really you’re supposed to call it “performance activation” instead of “performance anxiety.” Alina and I both did breathing exercises like we learned in drama class and chose mantras to think about. Hers was “you are strong, you are powerful, you are beautiful.” Mine was “I’m going to make as many mistakes as I damn well please.” Alina said my mantra seemed counter-productive but I always find that when I give myself permission to make mistakes is when I usually do the best, because I’m no longer worrying about making mistakes which is what makes you make mistakes. So I thought that over and over and my audition went well. Of course when you have performance activation when you’re waiting to be slaughtered it’s not really the same thing, because you won’t actually have to do anything but stand there and wait. There’s a kind of very precise horizontal laser guillotine they use. One moment your head is attached to your body and the next it’s not, just like that. It’s very peaceful and humane. But anyway I still think it matters to be able to control your anxiety, performance activation, whatever, before you’re slaughtered too. After all, everybody dies but what really matters is how we live. Wouldn’t you prefer a life where you walk to your death with your head held high? Wouldn’t the best culmination of everything you are and were as a person be to have good strong thoughts in your head at the very moment it falls to the floor?

My friend Alina has dark skin and I have light skin and we learn in school about how that matters a lot on the Outside because people get treated differently. It’s important that we learn about stuff like that because the rich who are going to buy us don’t want us to be dumb animals kept in ignorance about how the world is. They want us to be awake. Because if we are awake and woken and we know we are going to die and we know why, then it means everything is ethical. So we learn how white supremacy is everywhere including on the farm, is what they teach us. We have to know that it’s not fair but it’s a cruel reality that white animals command a higher price than dark ones. Why this is is because rich people are usually white and they feel bad about eating black or brown animals because it feels like colonialism to them. They don’t want to feel like there is a race or class element to who gets eaten and who does the eating. So if they only eat animals who are white like me then they don’t have to feel bad. It’s all ethical. But really all it means is that my parents probably got a better price for selling me to the farm than Alina’s parents did, so how ethical is that really.

I really like rock climbing. I do it a lot with another friend named Josh who is good at it because he’s tall but mostly because arms are very long compared to his torso. In the sport of climbing that is referred to as having a very good ape index. Called that because like monkeys have very long arms because they climb things and swing around a lot. I measured my ape index once and it’s just 1; the length of both my arms stretched out is exactly equal to my height. Josh has an ape index of 1.05 which doesn’t seem like that big a difference but it sure is. I asked Alina once if she wanted me to measure her but she said she didn’t care because she’s short anyway so she can’t even get to rocks that I can get even with my regular ape index, since I’m taller than her. She does rowing instead which means she is always worrying about her weight. All the rowers do. Partly because sometimes the rowing team goes to competitions with rowing teams from other farms and they have to do a weigh-in before the competition, but I think mostly because they read books and watch movies about famous rowing teams on the Outside, and all those rowers worry about their weight all the time. So it’s the cool thing to do to show you’re good at rowing.

Anyway it’s funny how we worry about numbers that don’t really matter. The rich people who buy me once I’m butchered won’t care about my ape ratio. The people who eat Josh probably won’t even know that he was very special in this way. The people who buy Alina will maybe care about her weight a bit, since nobody wants to buy scrawny meat, but even the rowers on the farm aren’t allowed to get too skinny for obvious reasons so all of their worry is mostly academic anyway. It’s just a hobby to think about it. And the buyers do like looking at the pictures Mary takes of us rock climbing and rowing. You are what you eat so they need to eat healthy animals who got lots of exercise. It’s ethical.

If I don’t get the part of Agave in the play, who is the mother with the head on the stick, then I’ll still probably get to be one of the women who rip apart first a bunch of cattle and then a man with their bare hands. I think it would be fun if Alina and I got to do that together, be these crazy ripping women. So maybe I don’t want to get the big part after all, I don’t know.

I’m going to be slaughtered when I’m eighteen. That’s the usual age unless a rich person special-orders meat from a different age. So really it could come at any moment and you need to be ready. I think a lot about whether I’m ready and I don’t know. I think maybe you only really know whether or not you’re ready when the moment comes. So I guess I’m excited to see how I feel, in the moment before I die. I won’t have a long time to think about it but life isn’t long anyway, for anyone. At least on the farm we don’t lie to ourselves about it.