All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
I clamber out the window, my hands and feet moving automatically, traveling paths they know well. I don’t need the sun to get where I’m going. The darkness acts as a cloak, letting me forget about the outside world, allowing my thoughts to be as hindered as my sight.
I slide onto my branch, letting my body settle into grooves that have been worn there throughout the years. The branch feels smooth beneath me, and comforting, familiar, like an old friend. It seems to be the only thing that is a constant in my life right now.
I listen as the wolf packs call back and forth. A tiger chuffs. One of the lions builds up to a roar, but never actually lets it go. I listen to these sounds, like I do almost every night, but tonight it doesn’t make me feel any better.
I sigh, letting my head fall into my hands. I close my eyes while I re-live my day, from my waking hour to the current silence of the night.
The day had been uneventful to begin with. I just had woken up, and started going through the motions, maybe feeling a little bouncier than normal. XXX(husband) was gone on a trip, and wouldn’t be back for a few days yet. I had mailed my manuscript to a publisher a few months earlier, and was expecting a response sometime soon.
I had sent my daughter off to school for the day, handing her a sack lunch in a paper bag. She had waved goodbye before skipping to the bus stop, stopping to visit with the horses when they reached over the fence of their pasture, while I watched her through the window, smiling to myself.
When my son woke up-which was, in fact, a miracle in itself, as it meant he had actually slept that night-I dressed him, fed him, and set him to playing with his toddler-proof tablet. He loved to doodle using the color setting, and it kept him busy while I had checked my own tablet.
‘No new messages.’ I sighed, although I wasn’t really concerned. Publishers tend to take a while to get back to you, especially if they plan to accept. I curtailed that thought where it was, determined not to get my hopes up, but I couldn’t help the spark that rose up in my chest. It had been hiding there since I had sent the manuscript anyways. Plus, a little hope never hurt anybody, right?
“XXXX! Come on! Let’s go feed the animals!” He quickly abandoned his tablet, running to me on his still-stubby legs. I listened to the steady beat of his feet across the wood floor.
He ran up and grabbed my hands, smiling, his dimpled cheeks smeared with his breakfast.
“Sarabi? Feed Sarabi?”
I laughed and bent down, carefully wiping some off, but quickly decided that: It’s not worth it, as he will get much more dirty helping me feed, and I’d just have to clean him all over again. “Yes, we’ll feed Sarabi. Rozzy too!”
He beamed before turning to sprint around the house, back to the barns. Sarabi is his favorite of the exotics, one of the lions, who was raised here from a cub. She is very friendly, although definitely not tame. None of the exotics are “tame.” Rozzy is his little red gaited pony.
I followed him around the house, heading first to the hay barn. I usually feed the horses first. Today was no different. At least, not yet.
I jumped onto one of the little four-wheelers, steered the claw over to the hay bales, picked one of the top ones, and deposited it onto the back of the four-wheeler. The entire back shifted, but the front wheels stayed on the ground.
The wheeler had been a gift for my birthday, so that I could pull whole hay bales out to the pasture, rather than pulling one flake at a time. It made feeding much easier.
I drove out to the pasture, and whistled once, long, loud, and sharp. I watched as the horses barreled up from the fence, bucking and snorting. I tossed a few piles of hay into the tubs then walked around to each of the horses, giving them cookies.
I put my hand into my pocket, and look out on the milling bodies. My hand grasped an extra cookie, although I was sure I had only grabbed seven. I counted the milling bodies. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Someone called someone’s mom a bad name, and they spun and wheeled, causing me to lose count. I started over, counting faster now. One, two, three, four, five, six. I counted again. Six. Someone was missing.
I saw Rosalyn, the little red pony. I saw Ebby, the big grey mustang; Zeke, the Arab; Takoda, the draft; as well as both Spartan and Fantasia, the rescues.
I looked over them again.
Thea! Lady Teribithea!
She was the horse I’d had the longest, as I had had her since she was a baby, back in 2011. She was getting on in years, but I still rode her frequently. She was still my favorite, and probably always would be.
It wasn’t like her to miss a meal. She liked her food, and she was lead mare. Unless something was wrong, she’d be here. And I’d seen her that morning, stretching her elegant head over the fence to nuzzle my daughter up thrust hand.
Leaving the four-wheeler where it was, I jogged down the gentle slope of the hill, calling for her. It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen XXXX in a while, but I pushed it out of my mind.
“Thea? Thea! Where are ya, babe?”
Then I saw her. She was standing at the fence, her head stretched out, groaning softly. As I watched, she turned and nipped at her sides. I could picture her saying, What did I do to hurt so bad? Where is it? She turned her head and looked at m e, then let her knees buckle so that she could roll.
Colic. Every horse owner knows what it is, and they all fear it. And almost all of them will see it at some point. The nipping at sides, rolling, standing stretched out.
I whipped out my phone and called the vet, who said he’d be there in about 20 minutes. He told me to get her walking and to not let her go down.
I hadn’t brought a halter with me, and she wouldn’t just follow me like usual. I stood and thought for a moment, then grabbed some baling twine from my pocket, which I twisted into a halter.
I slipped it over her feminine ears, which were dark with sweat, and led her slowly up the hill.
Several miles of pacing the same dirt track, a severe pain killer, a laxative, a long tube, some soapy water, and a much lighter wallet later, the vet left.
Thea was tired and sweaty, but it looked like she’d be fine. I wrapped my arms around her neck and hugged her, breathing in her warm horsey smell.
“I love you Thea.”
She whickered once, nuzzling my shoulder drowsily.
The other horses had finished their food and come down the hill. It was then that I realized how late it had gotten. It was almost noon, and I hadn’t seen XXXX since around nine. Plus, I hadn’t fed anyone but the horses.
“Crap.” I seemed to say that a lot that day.
I said goodbye to Thea and the others, then headed to the other side of the house, where the exotics were. They lived in a large building with temperature regulation, and each one had a yard. A few, who had formed family groups, lived out in large, several acre pastures.
Only a few of the exotics needed to be fed, the rest eating only once every week or so.
I tossed food to the raccoons, the Coatis, and to the one nursing lioness, looking for XXXX the whole time. Not finding him, I went back to the house.
It was quiet. Too quiet. I walked through the living room, finding nothing new there, but when I got to the kitchen, I stopped dead.
Flour and peanut butter coated some of the walls, while yogurt and milk coated the others. Bowls and cereal completed the look, covering the floor. I leaned against a small patch of the wall that was unmarked, sure of the culprit. I went to find him, not thrilled of the justice I had to deal out, or of the mess that awaited me.
I found him in his room, curled up with his lab on the floor, sound asleep. They both snored softly. No peanut butter or yogurt in sight, although I thought Lady had had something to do with that. I smiled; happy that I didn’t have to deal out a blow that I felt was undeserved.
When I finally was able to sit down on the couch to relax, after cleaning the kitchen, picking up my daughter from school, making dinner, and putting them to bed, I pulled out my tablet, looking for a new message.
3 new messages.
I opened the first, which was an email from XXX, telling me he missed me and would be home that night, and asking if I could pick him up at about one in the morning. I quickly replied that Yes, I would pick him up, but that I would accept payment by the end of the week...
On that happy note, I moved on to the next message.
The second was just a junk letter, an advertisement from some company. Something about the newest alternate reality glasses. I sent it to the junk box, not needing another reality, as I liked the one I had just fine.
But the third was the one I was looking for, a message from the publisher I had sent my book to a few months before.
October 5, 2032
I found the manuscript interesting, but not very good. There were parts that were creative and a few that were good, but those that were creative weren’t very good, and those that were good weren’t very creative.You wrote this for children, yet no children I know would enjoy this. I wouldn’t be able to sell ten copies. No thanks.
Ouch. I had received rejections before, but this was the rudest yet. Feeling a little defeated, I lean back in my chair. I just want to go to sleep, but I have to stay up until I get XXX home. I figure I might at least sleep, but when I close my eyes I feel restless. Something prompts me to my feet, up the stairs, and to my window. My eyes feel wet, but I don’t wipe at them. I stare out into the loud silence of the night.
When a tear splashes on the windowsill I don’t wait to let more join it. I just climb out the window.
A few days before my 35th birthday, I woke up to find snow coating the ground in a thick, white carpet. The light that filtered in through the window was brighter than usual, being reflected off of the millions of tiny gemstones. I stretched and bent, yawning. XXX lay beside me, snoring, as usual.
I headed downstairs to make breakfast, looking forward to pancakes and sausages, although I knew I’d have to make them myself. I stopped in the bathroom first to run a brush through the rat’s nest on my head, as well as to check the weather.
One new message, appeared in the top left of the mirror. I tapped it once, then expanded the small message that appeared. I only got past the first sentence before I stopped, not caring what the rest said. I was in!
January 23, 2034
We liked your book, and are willing to offer a $XXXX advance. We would like you to change a few things, but we will get back to you on what that is at some point in the near future.