The night the horses left. A mostly true short story in the spirit of Halloween.
I was really surprised when CJ jumped into the trailer first. Lasaro closed the swing gate and put some hay in through the drop window on the side of the trailer. She moved around, feeling for the space on each side of her and when she knew where the walls were, she settled into munching.
Genie surprised me even further. The horse that was always first in the trailer balked. Lasaro and Vicki worked with her patiently to get her loaded. When Charlie came, he joined in the push me pull me game sometimes played by humans trying to load a horse who has not been in a trailer for years. I was on the side of Genie, poking her rump or her flank with my thumb, releasing it whenever she moved slightly toward the trailer. Three times she got very close to stepping up, and three times she backed rapidly out, causing me to jump out of the way or be knocked down by this horse in rapid reverse. Each time Lasaro said, “Are you OK?” I didn’t know you could move that fast. I didn’t either but old muscle memory kicked in. Three people pushing and pulling a horse toward the trailer door was quite enough. I walked up to the window on her side and called her name. It seemed like magic, but she was most likely anticipating some treats and she jumped right in! Vicki swung the heavy trailer door closed. Both horses now loaded, the rain started to spit, the sky was darkening toward evening. Lasaro came up and opened the big drop-down windows. I climbed up the side of the trailer and as CJ stuck her big nose out I kissed her right in the soft part of the nose between the nostrils. I turned now to Genie, trying not to cry as I also kissed her in the very soft special place. As I got down, I caught Lasaro wiping his eyes with his handkerchief.
Lasaro, Vicki and their dog got in the pickup and drove slowly through the open gate and out our gravel drive. I stood there, giving them a huge wave and they honked the horn. Then they were gone.
The pasture was empty. Too empty. I felt lonely standing out there. I went into the house. Charlie was gone to an event. I felt sick. Sick that the horses were gone but also with a sore throat and a headache. The blue couch in our living room has been a place of comfort for many years. I lay down there and it seemed just a few minutes when Lily started baring. Are they back, I thought? I got up to look outside. Standing in my front yard and looking toward the gate was a big paint horse. I had never seen this horse before. He was very calm, standing with a barking dog at his front feet, looking towards the empty pasture. I walked out past him quietly, opening the gate with intentions of wooing him in with a little of the hay that had been dropped. He could stay there until I could locate his owner. He would be safe.
I walked toward him with the hay, his head perked up. His head turned towards the main road. He wheeled around on his hind feet and galloped full speed down our drive, turned the direction that just a few moments before the trailer had passed. Then he was gone. Vanished. Like he had never been there.
Thinking logically about this event, it could have been a Parkinson’s induced hallucination. A delusion. Yet it was too real. It had to be real. That horse was really there.
I was chilled. Not only from being outside in the spitting rain and wind but inside my body. I was shook up, like I had witnessed something supernatural. I did not understand what it was.
I texted Vicki, reaching her just as they pulled int the driveway at their homeplace. The horses were quiet she typed back. They were surprised to see Lasaro’s gelding Smokie out in the pasture on this blustery night. He usually would have taken shelter in the barn… The mares had not seen the likes of a male horse for some time, and even though he was a gelding they should have all been going crazy. He was also silent about the mare’s arrival.
I asked Vicki what her horse had looked like. She said, “He was a big paint gelding.” Shivers ran down my spine as I told her about the big paint horse that had visited my house.
“You are not going to believe this:” she said. “Smokey is standing out in the pasture, that’s unusual for him. He has his head down, and his tail toward the wind. OMG, he is standing over freshly dug up ground.”
He was at the site where months before Vicki had buried her… big paint gelding.