The Only Goat Girl

Sara Benincasa
28 min readFeb 1, 2022

The experiments didn’t hurt, usually.

They were more psychological than anything else. I know I’m still fucked up from some of it, but I’ve learned how to deal with the memories. For example, I always panic when I see a butterfly, but I know how to calm myself down right away. I take a slow, deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, and slowly exhale. Then I pause when I feel empty, and repeat. I do this until my heart slows to normal, and the shaking subsides.

I don’t remember what the butterfly experiment was, but I’m sure it wasn’t great. Still, logically, I know no butterfly is going to eat me.

Logic can only provide so much comfort, of course. I know a bunch of things are true, logically. They basically fed me logic along with fortified goat milk (before they realized I’d be better off with human milk). They really did hope I’d have more goat traits, but genetics research is a funny thing. My mom says that no matter how much you try to control for variables, you do end up with surprises.

Like me. I was a surprise. They didn’t think I’d live, especially since the earlier attempts had been disastrous.

But I survived.

I spent my first three years in the laboratory. The scientific method was as much a part of my upbringing as Sophie the giraffe and episodes of Sesame Street. They all thought I was so adorable, which is probably why they didn’t kill me in the end, when they couldn’t figure out a marketable use for me.

Maybe it’s naïve, but sometimes I really believe they all loved me, in their way. I remember feeling very important, nurtured, and cared for. Even when they put tubes in me or poked me or prodded me in ways that burned or stung, even when they left me alone while I sobbed and took notes on what doll I chose to hold or what position I fell asleep in, I knew they were very interested in me.

Some children think no adult in the world cares for them. I thought every adult in the world cared for me. I never felt ignored or neglected. When they hurt me, they told me it would only last for a little while. I knew it was for a good reason. I…

Sara Benincasa

Author, REAL ARTISTS HAVE DAY JOBS & other books. Writer of scripts. Host of WELL, THIS ISN’T NORMAL podcast.