The {Old} Man

The sun was making its way into the morning, cloud-covered sky. She stood there in the pasture calling the horses in before leaving for work, feeling anxious about the day ahead, needing to get going. Annoyed, she called again, as she saw two of the three head slowly descend down the hill making their way to the corral. Whistling one more time, the two pick up their pace to a trot, but the old man’s silhouette yet remained to meet her eyesight on the horizon.

“Damnit. I don’t have time for this. Why can’t he just come in with the rest of them?” she muttered as she hiked her dress slacks up and tiptoed her way through the dewy grass and mud in her wedges. She rolled her eyes at the inappropriateness of her attire, and much preferring her boots and jeans to this business casual look she had to wear. Truth be told, her annoyance wasn’t at the old horse that wouldn’t come in, or the fact she was late, or even at the clothes she was wearing; she wanted to stay home, to take in a much needed day with her equine pals doing a whole lot of nothing except just being. But she refocused on the task at hand…

Pausing to call again and catch her breath, she waited, and looked up at the orange and pink hues of the sunrise. It was honestly breathtaking. But still no sight of her old paint friend.

Worry started to set in and formed a tight knot in her gut. He’d been awful slow these days, taking his time grazing his way to the barn, his arthritis showing more and more. But she loved the old horse, and wasn’t quite ready to part with tangible moments and be left with only the memories they’d forged over the years. He’d taught her so much, listened to her, been patient with her when she wasn’t with herself, been brave when she couldn’t, stacked her in the dirt when she’d needed it, humbled her, and given her confidence to try again. His love stitched together her heart and soul. Selfishly, letting go wasn’t something she was prepared for yet.

As she crested the knob, she held her hand up to her brow blocking the blaring sun and searching for him. The sweet smell of the bright, purple lupine patch greeted her nose, and she took in her surroundings- the crisp and clean mountain air- the sound of the little irrigation ditch rumbling its way through the high field- and finally, she saw him.

He lifted his head at the sight of her approaching and nickered his low, muffled sound. The knot in her stomach turned to slight tears of relief threatening the corners of her squinted eyes. She walked up to him and he took two slow steps toward her. She met his neck with her hand and bowed her head against his.

“Hey old man… it’s time to come in.” She slipped her arm over his neck, dropping her pant legs to the wet grass, no longer tiptoeing on her wedges, which were now muddy and ruined, and they walked to the barn together with the morning sun at their backs.

She smiled. He always had a way of making her stop and take all of life in, in the moment. The day ahead of her no longer mattered, because right here, right now is what mattered most to both of their hearts.

The rest of the world could wait…

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