short story in The Future
Jan gathered the food out of the car, placed it nicely on the picnic table. Jim was walking up from the creek, fishing pole in hand, but nothing caught.
A scream in the distance. Penny jumps up, turns and runs toward her father. Jim tosses the pole aside, arms wide to catch his daughter running toward him. He catches her, rises, with her in his arms.
“I seen it. It was really big. It snorted,” said Penny.
By this time Jan was near Jim, her hand atop Penny’s shoulder.
“What honey? What did you see?”
“Like Grandma’s picture. On her table, in the dining room.”
Jim looks at Jan, then sets the girl down. Jan kneels beside her daughter.
Jim’s gaze toward the horizon . . . and under his breath, “Oh. My God.”
Jan looks up, then rises, “Oh, Jim.”
Not taking her eyes off the spectacle before them, “It’s a horse, Jim,” as Jan wipes a tear from her eye, her words breaking slightly, “A horse.”
“It’s like the one in Grandma’s picture. Their real, dad. They’re for real.”
Jim mumbles a slight wisp, not taking his eyes off the spectacle, “Yes.”
The Bay Stallion, now on a small knoll, stops, turns. The Stallion looks at the family standing near the creek. Majestic in the sunlight, it’s left-leg, hoof, rises. He sweeps the hoof three times, then sets it down; pounds the dirt; dust rises, underneath the hoof, three more times.
With a twist of its head, a rise and swoosh of its long Black Mane, he snorts, kicks-out, turns, gallops over the hillside, disappears.
“I didn’t know any were left out here,” Jim says, sadly, still watching the hillside.
Jan, wipes her tears from her cheeks, wordless, stares at the hillside.
“Mommy? Can we go watch him some more? I never seen a real, live horse. Why are you crying?”
Jan kneels down, looks into her daughter’s eyes, “. . . Because we treated them badly. There are no more. He may be the only one left. We treated a lot of wild animals badly years and years ago, even before I was even born – you may never, ever see this again . . . her voice fades out as she peers toward the hillside, “. . . you may never see a horse again, honey.”
“Jan. . .” Jim says, still looks toward the hillside, “. . .over there.”
Jim picks up Penny, Jan steps beside Jim. They watch, as two hillsides over, the Bay Stallion stops in mid-slope, looks at the family again – suddenly, coming up to him from the valley below, a Bay Mare, with a young foal beside her, stops at his side. The stallion looks across the hillside, once more. Proudly, he looks toward his Mare and foal, then to Jim.
“Oh, my God,” Jan says while wiping the tears off her cheeks, and Penny, now.
“I understand,” Jim whispers.
The Stallion turns, along with the Mare and foal, and in a small tuft of dust, trot, then gallop over the hillside. Soon the dust settles, where the horses were – Copyright 11/15/2015