Fiction By Erin // 3/21/2010


          I  have always enjoyed sneakin’ out at night just to watch the mare and her little colt trottin’ ‘round in the paddock outside near the house. I never wore shoes, for I like the feelin’ of mud squishin’ through my toes after rain. Sometimes it actually was rainin’.
           Once I fell asleep out there, hidden in the tall wheat grass, listenin’ to the gentle risin’ and fallin’ of hoof beats. Now I know why the mare and colt sleep a lot through the day. Papa’s always wondered.
          Momma didn’t catch me out there in the paddock, but if she ever did, she would have made a huge fuss.
          I was able to wash my feet and hop into bed and get some more precious sleep before Momma and Papa awoke. It was hard but it was worth it. I was quite tired most days, too.
          I don’t know why I enjoyed this so. Maybe it was the moon reflecting off their black coats, maybe the gentle beatin’ of hooves on solid ground. Maybe it was the star filled sky, makin’ the midnight blue look like it had snow all coverin’ it.
           I think it’s all of the above.
          Yesterday, I made a little sketch book out of some leather from Papa’s shed and old paper I found after rummagin’ through my bedroom.
          I’ve liked to draw for a long while, and I thought it would be a nice landscape if I drew out at night. I have good night vision, and I would have moonlight to help light the page.
          So one night, I snuck out as I usually did, carryin’ a pencil and my sketchbook.
          It had rained the day before, so mud squished through my toes. That was one of my favorite parts about goin’ out at night.
          I saw the mare and her colt trottin’ ‘round the paddock. I knew it would be hard to capture their grace on paper.
          I opened the paddock gate, which was cold as ice, even in the spring.
          I tried to be quiet, but I saw the mare stop. The colt continued trottin’ a couple of strides, not seemin’ to notice my comin’ in, but looked back to see his momma lookin’ at me. He looked funny, all surprised and such, and made me laugh.
          I stayed quiet and crouched into the wheat grass.
          I heard hoof beats approaching.
          I stayed in my spot. They knew me, and I came out there every night, but they probably were curious about my pencil and sketchbook.
          I saw the mare. She seemed to tower above me, especially since I was sittin’ down.
          She bent her head down to sniff me. Her prickly whiskers tickled my cheek, so I giggled.
          Her head jerked up. She shook her thick black mane and swished her tail. That meant she was irritated.
          “It’s okay, pretty girl. It’s all right, Annie,” I said. That’s what I called her in my head. Papa didn’t like to name the ranch animals. “They’re for work and food—nothin’ more,” he often said.
          Annie pricked up her ears, lookin’ interested.
          So I kept talkin’ to her. I swear I told that horse everything. The colt came ‘round too, so I talked to him. I called him Thunder. I figured Annie and Thunder were simple names for two simple ranch horses.
          I chatted to Annie and Thunder as if they were people. Finally, I ran out of things to say and when I stopped talkin’, Annie and Thunder ran off. Perhaps now I could get them in my sketchbook.
          I stared at them, but they were movin’ too fast to draw.
          Think, Shiloh! What can you draw? I thought.
          It came to me. A self portrait!
          I opened up my sketchbook and began to imagine myself.
          My skin was dark as Momma’s coffee she had every mornin’, and my hair was long, black, and always in braids on each side of my head. My eyes were big and brown, and my face was radish shaped, and I was wearin’ my white night gown that had blue stripes all up it, with a matchin’ night cap.
          I nodded to myself and started drawin’.
          I could see the shape I was drawin’ a little bit, and I thought that I was doin’ pretty well.
          When I was finished, I longed for some colored pencils. I liked how the drawin’ had turned out, but I would’ve liked it even more if I could color it in.
          I saw Thunder lyin’ down, asleep, and Annie stood right beside him, her eyes shut and her left hind foot cocked. I smiled at the two sleepin’ horses.
          I stood up and left to the house.
          When I was in the house, I went to the bath room and washed my muddy feet off with a wash cloth and warm water, hopin’ that Momma and Papa didn’t wake up and hear me.
          I turned off the faucet and put the dirty wash cloth away to the messy clothes basket.
          I ran as quietly as I could across our old white carpet to my room.
          Once in my room, I hid my sketchbook and pencil in my bedside drawer and tucked myself under the quilt Momma made me and closed my eyes. I was asleep immediately, the sound of gentle hoof beats replayin’ in my head over and over again.


That was really good! I loved

That was really good! I loved all the sensory details you put in!

Clare | Mon, 03/22/2010