Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unworthy of the Stall

Robert mindlessly chewed the last of his lunch as he stared into the stall, shaking his head. He was feeling disgusted again, as was the case more and more in recent days. The horse that took up this stall, the barn's only stall at that, was an utter disappointment to him. If a stall could be wasted, this stall had been.

The horse was bone thin, except for the places it was fat. Its mane was dull and sheenless, a patchwork of scratchy wire and scars. Its body was a misshapen tank with a spine that could no longer suffer a saddle. The horse quivered at its cloud of flies and belched through its mouthfuls of feed. A disgusting, disappointing waste of the only stall in the barn.

Robert shook his head again as his thoughts descended fully into disdain. Of all horses, this horse. Just one dedicated spot for a horse and it's this horse stuck in it.

Even this horse's name, "Breezy", kindled his contempt. It had sounded light and happy when she'd first been moved into the barn. The sign emblazoned with her name and hung over the stall even seemed to cheer an otherwise dismal barn up at first. Now it hung like a profanity. It meant dread and loathing and something that just wouldn't end or go away.


Robert sighed an angry defeated sigh, swallowing a final time and wiping his mouth. He acknowledged to himself he'd before attempted a kinder, gentler assessment of this horse. He'd even made an attempt at not doing any assessing at all. But it didn't last. Ol' Breezy soon proved she'd as soon step on you as look at you. On mere approach of the stall door, for no fault of his own, he could sense a wicked tension rise in the air. A malicious humidity, snorting from her filthy, damp nostrils. Had Robert not gotten clear of her quickly in these moments, he'd have been maimed or killed.

Killed by an infernally disappointing horse named Breezy.

Robert hated this horse. He hated the fact that she took up a spot that he felt belonged to something better. Something he could love. Something he could be proud of. Something that merited kindness and gentleness at all. One barn. One stall. And this was the horse standing in it.

Robert turned slowly toward the door to head back to the house. The evening temperature was dropping and it would be warmer there, if he could get inside. Breezy watched him leave with her wary sideways glance. She felt instant relief come over her as he left the barn. It wasn't so much his stealing her feed, although she hoped he'd stop. It was that she just couldn't relax or think or be herself when Robert came in, because she'd always been unnerved and repulsed by rats.


AmandaDaniels said...

Incredibly written. So easy for us to become rats...
Keep writing Steve. What a gift!

Steve said...