Untitled Short Fiction
By: Kali Zakariasen
I have been young, and now I am old. The trail of every aged one tells a story. This is mine.
The event of my birth took place on a stormy Montana day. In the serene shelter of the vintage barn settled in the heart of Pleasant Grace Farm, my humble entrance into this labyrinth of a world occurred. I vividly recall the faint musty scent of the old cedar wood that surrounded me. The warmth radiating over me as my beautiful mother gently breathed is still a wonderful reminisce. Her muscles rippled elegantly beneath snow white hair and her neck arched gracefully as she bent down to clean my new, frangible skin.
In that tender moment, with the sweet hay beneath my tiny hooves and the soft glow of the hanging lantern gently swaying in the corner of our stall, I knew I was loved. The lifelong bond between my mother and I had begun.
My first months of growing up were blissful and pure. Although in my early years I didn’t appropriately appreciate my youth, thinking back I relish those carefree hours of grazing on the flowing slopes with my mother. Each of those first precious days was spent in the sunny pastures of the farm, just Mother and I. We soaked in the crystal clear spring waters and munched on the tender, green apples that hung plentifully from nearby trees for myriads of hours. Each night, nestled together and encircled by the bond of heat we shared, I knew the heavenly feeling of peace. I can’t say I have experienced anything more comforting than being lulled to sleep by my mother’s steady heartbeat, silky coat, and radiating warmth. Mother was superior to any scary thing. Ask me what fear was then, and I would have no description for you.
After a series of sunny days, one can always expect a rainstorm to be in the forecast. All too suddenly, my fairytale life was to quickly vanish. I will never forget the day my mother and I were removed from our beloved home and herded into a trailer loaded with all sorts of other horses. I was far too young to know what was happening, but my mother knew. She had been through this sort of thing when she was young. We were being sent to another state to be sold to trainers and breeders.
Being extremely excited about a new adventure, I was not the least bit nervous or saddened to leave our home. To me, a trip with Mother to a faraway place sounded like a lovely idea. The only thing that worried me was the strange look I happened to catch in my mother’s eye. Was it a look of expectancy? Was it fear? Perhaps despair. When I glanced her way once more, however, she was watching the trees whiz by outside our window. I quickly pushed my ponderings aside and began to enjoy myself again.
The road trip lasted many hours. After what seemed an eternity, we finally came to a stop. I was thrilled to exit that box on four wheels and gulp in the fresh air with brio. After a while, some husky men with beards and shiny leather gloves approached and led my mother and me into a sizeable corral. They provided us some food and water. It was delicious! I realized I had not eaten anything nor drunk a drop of water since the previous evening.
After a time, one man inquired of another, “What do ya suppose we oughta do with da litta ones?”
His companion replied, “We’ll put ‘em up in the train that’s headin’ for Kentuk’ and his momma, that snowy mare over yonder, will go on further in the trailer and I reckon we’ll get a good sum for her.
I did not know where this place, “Kentuk” was, but I was quite sure I didn’t desire to travel there. Worst yet, was my mother going to be taken from me?
That very night Mother told me the awful news of what the men had decided. It was true, I thought with terror. Imagining the possibility of being apart from my mum sent cold chills down my tail. How could I live without my mother’s comforting body to snuggle up against at night? What would I do without her gently nudging me to awaken in the morning?
Lying awake through the silence of that night, I doubted sleep’s existence. My mind whirled with a multitude of thoughts, all swirling about uncontrollably. Why were these men taking my mother away? When were they taking her and where? Thoughts continually bounced to and fro in my head at a disturbingly painful rate. I lied down dizzily, my mother’s painful words echoing again and again. After a long time, I fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning I awoke to my mother’s nervous grunting. I knew what it meant. When the men came to take me I ducked behind mom, hoping they wouldn’t see me. I pressed hard into her side and shut my eyes tightly. I could hear her heart thumping wildly inside. Oh, the wonderful security of her touch and the comfort of her body! I desired to stay by her and never leave. Suddenly, I felt startling pressure followed by the abrupt jerk of those cold, leather hands around my neck. I kicked and thrashed violently. I snorted and whinnied with all my might. I knew deep down inside that I could not resist the powerful human being. My mother nudged me softly as a sign to surrender. I obeyed.
The man forced a rope over my nose and around my chest and dragged me towards a separate trailer. As we struggled down the dusty road to the trailer, my mind went blank. I felt numb all over. I simply could not imagine a world without my mother. She had been a part of every day of my life and now she had vanished from my sight. I was headed for the unknown destination of “Kentuk” alone.
Upon entering the trailer, I was engulfed by the anguished cries of other youngsters who were also separated from their mother’s that day. The stress of my circumstances combined with the suffocating heat of the sun beating down on our small trailer was too much for me to take. Exhausted, I let my head hang limply and gave into my heavy eyelids. Soon everything became quiet and all that could be heard was the distant roar of an engine and the sorrowful sounds of the motherless.