Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: twenty past midnight, what used to live under your bed, if you come to a fork take it, why are you being so stubborn, most want to go to heaven, and the sun pours down like honey, in the aftermath of wind, I thought I was. . ., I already told you, father shot
In the aftermath of the wind, the yellow sycamore leaves cover the surface of the pond like tightly tatted lace. Canada geese, mallards, and egrets loiter on the shallow shore looking confused and disheveled like two am drunks disappointed that the bars have closed. My lady in her riding breeches and I in my racing saddle stand off to the side, hoping to go unnoticed amid a stand of conifers. We did not expect this storm, and now we are debating where we might take shelter once the rain begins. I try to tell her that I know more about these matters than she does, but she doesn’t believe me. “You,” she says disdainfully, “used to live under my bed. How could you possibly know more than I do?”
Oh, she is a haughty little girl, and I simply do not know how to explain that I am as old as imagination. I am now and have been a tiger, a dragon, a cow, a horse, a coyote, a California condor, and a ruby-throated humming bird. I have been a geisha, a madonna, a warrior, and a monk. I stand before her now, a miniature pony, slightly bigger than a Great Dane, with lavender fur and green eyes. I will carry her wherever she wants to go, but I can’t help spouting my platitudes. It seems to be how I am made. It is somewhat embarrassing. “Why are you being so stubborn?” she asks me, and I hesitate. I know full well she is heartbroken because her father shot a deer and a brace of quail. She doesn’t understand and neither do I. And yet is now the time to leave?
The sun pours down like honey but the calm is deceptive; we stand in the eye of the storm. Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to embark. “You’re a big old coward,” she mutters, and I would freely admit this is true, for I am limited by her thoughts. If she wants me to be the symbol of authority that she will push against, well, then that will be my role to play.
“I already told you,” I say, “I thought I was here to help you, but if you want me to be your opponent I can do that too.”
Her eyebrows arch in surprise as I grow large haunches and shoulders, shifting into a dark chestnut equine with flaring nostrils and ears flattened in urgency. “I am here to serve,” I tell her. She steps back, suddenly aware of new options. “Most girls I know want to go to heaven,” she confides. “But I just want to have fun.”
She climbs on my back. “When you come to a fork in the road,” she directs, “take it.”
“Hang on,” I say.
I charge off running, my hooves stomping the damp ground, finally taking flight across the water. Geese, ducks, and egrets follow in our wake. It is twenty past midnight.
Photo by. Tim Schmidbauer on Unsplash