Another lonely day today, what else can I expect? This is all the life I have here, in this tiny acre on the side of a busy, noisy road; I watch all these pale humans walk or zoom past me and my sad, torn pasture. They do not seem to look twice, but at least they look; the tattered, broken planks of the white fence are impossible not to notice.
Oh well. All people see when they look at me is the secluded little horse on the property with the broken fence, overgrown weeds, and a little purple barn next to the purple house. Life here is quite pathetic, really; but only for me, because I am the only remaining horse on the property. My pasture mate, another mare like myself, was sold about a year ago. There are days I miss her terribly, although she did get on my nerves sometimes. Then again, such a small space with such limited resources makes sharing with another horse difficult.
The teardrops from the sky are coming down heavily today; I can hear each drop slap against the roof of my shelter. Puddles of water are inundating in my pasture and in the muck that is before me. My joints ache, but I cannot lie down; my hooves are buried in churned piles of my waste already. My skin is crawling and itching under this blasted blanket so badly; I can feel my fur is pasted together in clumps from being wet and dry, wet and dry again. I wish my masters will come out and take a dandy brush to my fur and sweep away all this dirt and sweat and dust, but I know better than to wish for such things.
I do not know where my masters are. They are either in their home or out and about in human society, but rarely are they ever out here with me. Even the youngest child of my master does not wish to ride me or play with me; it's as if I do not exist to her. She could be frolicking in their little yard, and I could be standing right in the pen, but she wouldn't care.
My belly rumbles. I look down at the yellow hay that has turned to dry straw—my meals from days before, mulched in with piles of my own droppings. All I can do is sit in this barn, with my head in the corner, and wait. I have already been fed lunch today; now, I must wait for my humans to return from their daily outings and give me another ration of hay. Not that I am too excited about it; it doesn't taste good as it should, really. My humans do not get me the freshest hay, but it is better than what they used to get! They used to feed me hay with mold and spores in it; it caused me to lose so much weight you could see my ribs. Of course, it did not help that my pasture mate was still with me then, and our masters did not feed us very much or very often.
I turn around so I am facing the open doors of my stall, that lead out to my pen and the pasture. The lush, green grass—however short—made my belly growl again. I look down at the mess in front of me, just a brown, wet soup. I hate having to step in this every day, soaking my legs all the way to the knees with wet mud and waste, and have it be stuck on my legs and fur all day. If I had my way, I would stay in the barn, just for the sake of not having to tread through the mess.
I sigh in frustrated hopelessness. Then I hear a voice very familiar to me, but it is not my master. I peak around the corner of my barn, and see her standing there; a girl who is anything but a stranger to me, and who I have yet to fully understand. She greets me with her usual smile; her soft brown eyes give me a sense of comfort in my lonely little world, although she cannot come in here with me. I am not sure of her name; I have never heard it spoken before, but I recognize her voice, every time. My masters know she comes and visits me, in spite of the fact she brought strange men in uniforms to their door some time ago. I am glad they let her visit; since my pasture buddy was sold, this girl is my only company these days.
The girl coos to me, her long brown locks drenched with water, her clothes dark. I should have known a wet day like this would not deter her from visiting; it has hardly stopped her in the past. Unlike my master, she is still young but has aged appropriately as the years have gone by.
"Mia." She clicks her tongue at me, beckoning me by holding out her hand. When I see she has a handful of rich and tasty grass, I take the plummet through the muck, my one leg sinking into the soup of waste as far as my knee; I almost lose my balance and stumble. I am rewarded for my excursion, as I take the grass happily. She coos to me once more, letting her hand run across my forehead and to my neck. I lean away, knowing if I let her caress me, I will not get any more grass.
The girl looks at me skeptically, but she knows this game I play; she starts picking the more lush grass on her side of the fence, grass I am not lucky to have growing in my pasture. I move in, but she withdraws her hand from my mouth, making me come closer and pressing my neck against the fence. I stretch my neck and head out until my lips meet with her small palm.
"Hello, my Mia," she whispers in her soft voice, touching her lips to my wet forehead. Only she calls me by this name. My masters named me Mystic, but ever since we met, this girl has called me Mia. I don't mind it much, really, being called two names. It lets me know who is coming to see me before I can see their faces.
Those noisy machines on the paved trails rush past our little space; not many humans are out walking today, but little children will be returning to their homes now. I can tell, by the presence of the long, yellow machines. My young master shall be coming home soon.
Irrelevant notes, I say to myself, and then snort with an abrupt sneeze. I feel the discharge running down my nostril, driving my whiskers into a sensitive frenzy.
"Bless you," the girl says, wiping away the drip with the long sleeves of her coat. Suddenly, I become aware of my surroundings again; the water from the sky has ceased, but the wind has hastened meanly, striking at my unprotected, wet legs and neck. I cannot help myself; I start shivering.
Yesterday had been quite the pleasant day—sunny, warm; a kind of day a horse would not need his blanket. But my masters did not take my blanket off, not even to adjust it. I had gotten sweaty due to the never-ending defense against insects that had tormented me all day; all the stomping, tail-swishing, and walking and pacing! Now the places on me that are still damp are giving me quite a chill.
I lash my left hind foot out and strike at the soiled, soft ground in frustration. I am cold, I am hungry, I am bored, and I am unclean. I can't even so much as have clean eyes!
But the girl takes care of this, taking her pale fingertip gently to the corner of my eye and scraping away the dried clumps of discharge. The little gesture gives me immense relief, however small a favor it is for her to carry out. Not long after, she notices I am shivering. Her hands sail over my neck and up to my ears, cupping them and rubbing them. Just from the contact of her warm hands, I can tell my ears are ice cold.
"My poor baby," she sighs, and warily, I watch her as she inches closer to me, her arm draping over my neck, letting it rest around me in an arch; she smooths out my disorderly mane and pats my dusty, dirty winter coat. It feels good, how her short, blunt nails give my caked skin a good, mild scratching.
Letting my neck rest easily against the nimble fence, my head eases down beside her; I am still shivering, but somehow, her presence gives me enough comfort to focus on something else other than the cold. I notice she is shivering as well, her hands losing their warmth as she continues to stroke my face and muzzle. But I stay as she continues to caress my face; her human lips brush the bone above my right eye.
My thoughts drift; they drift to provoking thoughts of how long it has been since my masters have given me this affection. Because I remember they did at one point, didn't they? Ah, it was all those years ago, when I first came into their 'family', and the little girl was so excited to have me in her backyard. Now, that little girl is grown up and away; I hardly ever see her anymore. In her stead is this girl, a girl not of their family or of any lawful responsibility of me, giving me unconditional fondness in the freezing sleet and wetness. It gives her some joy, I know, but do I dare hope that she is here for my own joy and happiness?
I do not wish to move from this warmth and comfort, but my joints are locking on me in stiffness; I must move some or I will be very sore. I back away from the girl, through the mess and out to the pasture, where my hooves sink into the soiled ground. I wonder if I will find any good grazing today that can fill me up. I stop and look over to see the girl faithfully following me.
She vanishes into the high weeds that are holding my fence together, but I see her on the other end of the pasture, watching me patiently. If I were to turn away from my masters in such a way, they would merely throw a fit and not bother with me for the rest of the day. For the girl, it does not matter how little I listen or obey her. Such loyalty I have never heard of. In all my years, I have heard of horses being loyal to humans—this is what we are bred and trained for—but never, to my recollection, have I heard of a human being so faithfully loyal to a horse.
I become painfully aware of a relentless itch on my back—one I cannot reach, and even if I could, the blanket is in my way. The ground is sopping wet, but I will just have to make do with the one spot that has not collected water or droppings; I lie down on my knees, gently falling onto my side. With the little energy I have, I push and roll myself this way and that, trying to get that spot. The rubbing blanket adds some effective texture, and with each eager throw of my weight, I am relieving the itch.
I hear the girl giggle and laugh gently at my display, but it is not without sympathy, as I also hear her add my name in a benevolent croon. I stop rolling from the exhaustion; I am not completely relieved of the itch, but I am too tired to continue the action. I am surprised I have enough energy left to shake myself off.
Unfortunately, my little roll has wet and dampened my blanket once more. It is all twisted now, so uncomfortable! I look, and see dark splotches of mud on the bright berry-colored blanket. The girl begins picking grass again; I can hear the tearing of the green stuff even from where I stand. Immediately, I go bustling over, and I am delivered a message along with my little treat.
"I have to go, baby." She caresses my cold, wet muzzle. "I'll come see you Thursday, okay? I love you." With that, she kisses between my eyes and backs away; we lock eyes second for second until she disappears behind the tall fence. As the minutes drawl by, I begin to realize the loneliness her absence brings. I suppose I just pretend that it does not affect me much, that her company is something I can live without, but with each day I spend out here alone and old, I am contradicted.
The barn is where I retreat to as always, and I wait. Not soon after, did I hear a door open and close. Instinctively, my ears pull forward as I listen for footfalls; the small door to the barn opens, and I see the face of my master's mate, a dark-haired man with no emotion in his face, even as he lays eyes on me.
He reaches for the few bales of hay piled in the small corner, and that becomes all I care about, not that he does not even say hello to me or make eye contact with me all the minutes he is in the barn. He drops the pile right on the ground with all the mess and muck and leaves without a word. He does not care to notice the smears of mud on my blanket or that it is crooked.
I tell myself not to occupy myself with it anymore and just eat before the hay sits too long in the muck.
© 2010 Jordane "Fang" Arnold
A story I was going to write for my college Fiction Writing Class, but for some reason, I never turned it in and instead wrote another in its place. This is actually based off actual events in my life; I knew two horses in my town that weren't very well taken care of by their owners. They belonged to a family who cared more for shopping at the mall and getting pedicures than caring for the horses or spending any time with them.
I decided to write a little short based from one of the horse's perspective, to test my writing abilities, telling the story from the narrative of an animal.
Please review! I'd like to hear some feedback ^-^