Sometimes I get these wild and crazy ideas about stories I’d like to write. I literally have ideas on a continual turntable running through my mind, and I’m terrible about putting them down somewhere when they come to mind. Sometimes inspiration comes from the slightest things- like watching my horse’s mane move on the breeze- sometimes it’s a nostalgic feeling that washes over me remembering the used to be- sometimes, it’s song lyrics- if the truth were told, my mind never really shuts off. So, I decided to put one of those ideas down- it’s just a little quip- a little insight into a story I may or may not someday write- but here it is…
She cracked the heavy oak door open to her modest, old ranch house, and stepped out onto the wrap around porch. The scent of piñon pine and sage wafted in on the early summer night breeze. She watched the last orange and pink rays of the sun warm the high desert mountains before waning into the horizon.
Her eyes drifted to the dirt road and the tail lights leaving. They didn’t pause, he didn’t slow, there was no hesitation. “That’s it,” she thought. She wasn’t sure how she felt yet- she knew it was coming- but in the moment she had no tears to cry, no assuming lump in her throat- because she’d been too damned independent her whole life. At 42, she rather enjoyed her solitude. “It is what it is,” she muttered to herself and let the words float away with the lights. What he didn’t know was he’d be better off in the long run.
She sat a moment in the old rickety rocker on the porch, listening to the creaking of wood on wood, as she pulled a pack of blue American Spirits from her jacket. She lit one up and breathed deep- letting the smoke roll over her. She rarely smoked. But tonight- she didn’t care- she just sat there and blankly stared into the night’s sky. The stars were starting to glow.
From the corral in the distance, she heard him nicker. Her longest friend. She got up from the rocker, took another drag, and strolled over the rocky drive to the corral gate. He walked up to her, and she reached for the familiar silhouette- her old bay friend. She ran her fingers through his mane, took the last long drag on her cigarette, and tossed the butt down, crushing it with her boot heel. She reached for him with her other hand- sunk her forehead into his neck- and just held on.
This is where her feelings surfaced. This is where she felt something- felt everything. It was her process. This horse had been through it all with her. He’d wandered through her remote place in the Virginia Range with a small band of mares- a young, strong bay stud. He caught her eye from the get go- the scars- the muddy, craggy look of his face- the shiny red mixed with black- and she lured him into the corral one morning. He willingly came, and when she shut the gate on him- he never flinched. It was like he’d been here before- so she held on to him- that was 15 years ago…
And now, here he was, standing quietly… just being. As she stood there letting his smell fill her nose, she finally felt that lump form in her throat- tears stung her eyes… and she thought of the news she received last week on her annual doctor’s visit. Words like “Stage 4” and “too late” and ” we could try” filtered through. She let the tears spill from the corners of her tightly squeezed eyes.
The bay lifted his head, nickered loudly in her ear, jarring her back to reality. She raised her head, looked up, and stroked his neck. She saw the herd rolling through in the distance. He nickered again-
She turned and walked away and he followed. With her back to him, she opened the latch on the gate, and turned back one last time, wiped away tears from her cheek, and stroked his mane. She stepped aside, out of his path- and let the pony run. After all, he was no different than her- he was just some wild thing- and he didn’t owe her one damn thing anymore- he never did. It was the right thing to do.
She sat down in the dirt, right there by the gate, leaned her head back against the post- and closed her eyes.