It isn’t the name I would have chosen for him. It hardly seems right for a horse so powerful and majestic, so noble. Don’t you see, this horse is descended from the great racer Man o’ War?
He deserves a strong Biblical name or one of a mighty ruler — Augustus, Tiberius, Cassius.
But his brother’s name is Patches, and he answers to Billy. And Billy’s mine.
The horse brothers live on my Big Papa’s dairy farm with the pea-brained guinea hens, the Shetland ponies, the prize brahma bull and all the cows with their long lashes.
My Billy is beautiful. He’s got a strong body painted the colors of whole milk and dark chocolate, his tail is completely brown. He holds his head up high, his back is straight.
Sometimes I use a saddle like I did when I was little and first learned to ride him, but my favorite is bareback when I feel the ripple of his strength under me, and there’s nothing in the way of us.
We race together through the sandy meadows, and I smile so wide I can barely close my mouth, and I know I am loved and strong because I’m with Billy. When we grow tired, we wind through the wood trails together, his breath a hush-hush in my ear. I am holding carrots, apples, sometimes sugar cubes in my pockets. Billy loves when I feed him, and I hug him and feel his muzzle soft like a pillow.
I tell him my stories. He understands.
Billy smells sweet like hay and earth and sweat. I could hold this in my nose always.
When we aren’t together, I remember my horse’s smell and the way he lets me nuzzle close, and it reminds me what it feels like to be wanted, to be chosen.
With Billy, I am small, but in a good way because I know I am his.
In my dreams, I am checking his hooves for pebbles, combing his tail. We are walking and talking. We are racing and laughing. He is protecting me in his spotted sides, his mane.
Billy is looking right into my eyes, and he sees me.
Deepest heartfelt thanks go to my dear mama who told me in words dripping love the story of her childhood friend. Thank you, Mama, for letting me tell yours and Billy’s story. The photograph here is hers (simply stunning talent she’s got).
Amber Haines of The Runamuck, is leading an exploration of voice in writing, in which we use concrete words to express the abstract. I’ve been deeply blessed by grace in that space. This week’s story began with the prompt “THE HORSE.”