Part 1 was published August 31,2009
The horse was in his box this time, sleeping with his eyes half closed.
“Hey,” she said and leaned on his stall door, looking at him through the bars. “I’m back.”
The horse opened his eyes and picked up his head. His chewed and licked and then finally spoke.
“So I see.”
The girl slumped her shoulders and the horse snorted.
“You were wishing it was all a bad dream, weren’t you?”
She nodded slowly. “Am I going crazy?”
“Maybe you are,” the horse said, “after all, you are having a conversation with your horse!” He snorted again and a piece of snot flew out of his nose and landed on the girl shirt. She wiped it away impatiently.
“You are the one who brought it up,” the horse shrugged as if it didn’t give a damn how the girl felt. The girl frowned.
“Let’s not fight,” she said.
“Let’s not,” the horse responded and chewed a little more, as if he had an imaginary bubblegum in his mouth. They stood silent for a while, then the girl opened the box door and slipped into the stall.
“You aren’t going to try to bite me, are you?” She looked at the horse.
“I don’t know, depends what you have in mind.”
“What do you mean?”
The horse took a step back. “Well, if you are going to pretend to be brave even though you are afraid – there is a good chance I’ll bite.”
The girl stared at the horse. He shrugged again. “I hate when people are not authentic.”
“Yeah, you know, you are scared but you pretend to be brave. I don’t get that. If you are scared, you are scared. You don’t try to cover up your true feelings. I find it highly suspicious.”
“Really.” The girl thought about all this for a moment. “But my riding teacher tells me to look brave, so you won’t know that I’m scared.”
“Ha.” The horse laughed out loud. “Let me tell you a secret: I know how you feel and so do all the horses.”
“You know? How can you know?”
“We just do, it’s what we do best. And it really freaks us out when people pretend to be something they aren’t. We like it more straight forward, you know, what you see if what you get.”
The girl leaned on the wall. “I never knew that.”
“Well, now you do.”
“But how is it that my teacher doesn’t know? She keeps telling me to get big and scary and powerful looking, so you won’t bite.”
The horse sighed. “Lots of people don’t know. You guys operate in the world the way you see it. You think everyone is like you, but we aren’t. You like to control things, also your own emotions. I think it’s just best to let it all out, at least in your case.”
“What do you mean in my case! You are talking about me like I’m an emotional mess!” The girl folded her arms across her chest in defense.
“I don’t mean you in particular, but humans. You all are so emotional, and you spend half your lives trying to hide those emotions, cover them up with another emotion.”
The girl thought of herself and her mother. She nodded. “That’s true. My mom pretends like everything is alright, and like she isn’t sad and lonely and all those things. But I know she is just covering up, for my sake.”
“And how does that make you feel?”
“I don’t like it, it gives me anxiety.” She looked at the horse, the way his forelock fell to one side of his face. “Is that how you feel, too, anxious?”
The horse nodded. “I feel anxious, sometimes, but sometimes angry, too.” He smacked his lips together. “The thing is, I reflect a lot of what you feel. If you are scared, it scares me and when you get angry, well…”
“You get angry, too.” The girl finished the sentence. “It makes sense, but I never thought of it that way.” She peered into the horse’s eyes. “So, when I come here and I’ve had a bad day…”
“I know that. And I know how the ride is going to be, too.”
The girl blushed. “I know, I know, you don’t have to say it.”
“But maybe you do.”
The girl thought about it for a while and the horse turned and drank out of his automated water cup. When he turned to look at the girl again, she was ready to speak.
“I know I hit you, I hit you last week when I was riding.” She looked away, down the barn isle. “And I shouldn’t have.”
The horse stood very still. “Can you tell me why you hit me?”
The girl looked at her feet and pushed around the straw bedding with the tip of her left boot. “I suppose I was angry because you wouldn’t go forward.”
“So I wasn’t moving at the pace you wanted.”
“Yeah.” She looked embarrassed. “And now – I don’t know – I just feel like I don’t really have the right to even ask you to move forward like that.”
The horse lifted his head, there was a blade of straw sticking from his mouth and the girl felt like picking it off, but she didn’t move.
“Why? Has something changed?”
“Well, duh! Everything has changed. I mean, look at you, you can speak!”
The horse cocked his head, as if amused.
“So, because I seem more human, it’s no longer alright to beat me with a stick?”
The girl shook her head. “No, wait, that’s not what I –“ She stopped abruptly.
The horse stood before her in silence.
The girl felt so overwhelmed with embarrassment that she wanted to leave, run out of the box and hide from the feeling she had in her chest. What had she done? What kind of a monster was she? Tears sprung to her eyes. The horse took a step closer and pushed his nose close to her solar plexus, right under her heart. Suddenly she felt warm, as if a blanket of love had fallen over her from the sky.
“Wait, what are you doing?” She whispered. Tears flowed onto her cheeks and she let out a sob so deep it was as if all the sadness in the world had suddenly surfaced in her.
“I’m – “
“Sshhhh,” said the horse and blew a warm breath over the girl. They stood very still, barely touching but yet so connected it would have been impossible to separate one from the other in that moment. Forgiveness and love and acceptance floated in the air, invisible yet so tangible.
Suddenly someone walked into the barn, the girl could hear a man whistling a tune in the other aisle. The moment was broken and the horse turned away, chewing. The girl sat down in the straw and it felt strange to do that, to trust the big animal so much as to not worry about getting trampled.
“Don’t worry,” the horse said as if reading her mind, “I won’t step on you.”
“I wasn’t – “the girl started, but then stopped. If the horse really knew every emotion she had, there was no need to lie. She looked at the horse.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” the horse said.
“Do you horses talk to each other, like we are talking now?”
The horse picked at the straws, separating the left over pieces of grain with his lips.
“Of course. Actually, it’s more like being connected through space, instead of a conversation. We are all connected in the universe, all living beings and even the ones that lived long time ago.”
“You mean like the dead people?”
“Yes, I mean the dead people, but also the horse and dogs and lions and what have you. “
“So, right now there are all these ghosts hanging around?” The girl looked around, her eyes wide, but slightly skeptical. Was the horse pulling her leg?
“I’m talking about energy, rather than something as concrete as a ghost.”
The girl picked up a piece of straw and wrapped it around a finger.
The horse nodded. “Yes, like the energy that surrounded us just a while ago, I know you felt it.”
The girl looked at the horse’s eyes, and wondered how she had never noticed how his lashes curled ever so slightly at the tips, giving him an almost feminine gaze. She frowned.
“But I’ve never felt that before.”
The horse looked focused, as if he was thinking hard.
“Have you ever thought of someone and then immediately after bumped into them?”
“Yes…” she was hesitant. “Wait, do you mean for example when you think of calling someone and right when you go pick up the phone, they call you?”
The horse snorted. “Yes, that would be it.”
“Or you think of someone and soon after get an email from them. I always thought that was coincidence.”
“Nope. It is intuitive communication, which in turn is based on energy traveling in space.”
“Wow.” The girl was impressed. “It makes sense, but I’ll really have to think about that a little more.”
“Sure,” the horse said.
They were silent for a while. The girl listened to the barn noises, people arriving after work to exercise their horses, taking them onto the aisles for brushing and tacking up. She felt conscious of herself, sitting in her horse’s box instead of doing something productive, like brushing.
“I better go now,” she said.
The horse nodded. “I understand.”
“I don’t have school tomorrow.”
The horse smiled. “I’ll see you in the morning then.”
The girl nodded and stood up. She wavered at the door for a moment, then extended her hand out and stroked the horse’s neck gently. “Bye now,” she said.
The horse turned his back at her to take another drink, but the girl could feel the blanket of love wrap around her and as she rode her bike in the falling dusk, love followed her all the way home.
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after" ~ Henry David Thoreau