The Horses

It’s been the oddest of weeks, I couldn’t even begin to explain it so instead of my usual musings I decided to post one of my shorter pieces; I’m very fond of it but placing things these days is sometimes even harder than creating them! I thought it was just a snippet short, short story but having shared it with a writing group today, I was told it came across as prose poetry. Food for thought; maybe I’ll submit it as such instead.

Anyway, here is ‘The Horses’:

The Horses

It’s the horses I miss the most. I miss the way they smell, the way they look and move. I miss the liquid shine of their wonderful eyes and the barely contained fire of their spirit but I miss also their trust and gentleness. Why would a creature weighing a ton or more with the strength of twenty men allow itself to be cajoled and beaten on a regular basis? Some would say because they are stupid. I prefer to believe that they are higher beings; christians in the true sense of the word, willing to turn the other cheek again and again until one fine day mankind might just change of its own accord. Perhaps they are stupid, but I digress.

I miss them because they used to represent true freedom. To taste the wind and feel the whip of hair in your face as you ride a horse at full gallop along a sandy stretch of shore or soar over obstacles too high to see over when stood on your own two feet, is a heady thing, intoxicating and wild. To fight and scream in the cut and thrust of battle while a charger leaps dancer-like beneath you is a communion too holy for words.

Now of course it seems very tame. I have done and experienced so much more but still; I miss them. I miss the wicker of welcome, the snort of alarm and the warm gentle breath of greeting. Their size, their colours – everything! I miss everything about them.

I will never know such carefree pleasure again, never feel the rise and fall of ribs between my thighs or the warm salty sting of sweat on my skin. They are lost to me forever and despite everything I now have it seems a high price to pay.

I still love them, still watch from a safe distance but they will have no part of me. When my nostrils flare, mirroring theirs, I smell not sweat now, but blood; when my ears prick in the silver silence of the night I listen not for a greeting but for the steady pump, pump, pump of their hearts. To visit myself upon them now would be to whip up frenzy and fear and although they cannot hurt me, I worry that they might damage themselves, snapping those deceptively slender bones that carry such bulk so lightly.

Sometimes, on the rare occasions when I frequent company, the oldest of my kind spin tales of turning horses; converting them to creatures of darkness and fury with speeds that would outstrip lightning. It would not be of much use, such speed, since races are run in daylight not under the cold white moon which is the light of our world. I do not believe myself, that such nobility of spirit could be turned. I believe that the very purity of their souls would prevent them from becoming as corrupt as the rest of us. But the old ones need to tell their tales and if there is sufficient blood to drive us to drowsy good nature we let them do so.

Centuries spin with a lazy beat and decades flash by in the blink of an eye; empires rise and fall, sometimes rising again and at the base of it all the horses remain. Humans once prized them above all other things then in our shallow stupid way we reduced them to vehicles, commodities to be bought and sold and beaten without a second thought. The world turned again to bring some of them back to the position of value and care whilst others pitch and toss in tremulous seas with only the slaughterer’s bolt to end it all. We are called vermin and hunted and killed yet humans devour the very flesh of heaven itself.

If there is a god then the horses are his children, so highly prized that even on the last of his rides his own son was not given the luxury of such a mount. Yet humans, people, and I was once one of them, destroy and abuse such beauty with no thought to what they do.

All around me are the sodden bloated members of the company I now keep. They shelter like rats in ruins and caves hiding from the light, scuttling from shadow to shadow. Scattered at their feet are the shells of the feast we have enjoyed this night. Empty eyes and twisted limbs stare vacantly at the sky as Mother Moon takes her leave and stern Father Sun returns. Stepping over the twisted limbs I step away from the sanctuary to greet the day, the sizzling twist of my skin is a wonderful agony as it bubbles and bursts under the golden rays.

One thousand years is so long to roam; I have seen so many things and sampled so many lives. My own blood is boiling now, my eyes melting; an exquisite pain that makes every enhanced nerve sing. There is nothing more left to do or see, I have done it all, had it all and through everything it was always the horses I missed the most.

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