Ghost

They used to come to my stable to cry. It was all very sudden. One day they’d be here grooming me and caring for me. They’d sit in the loosebox and I’d watch them cleaning my tack and laughing and playing while they swept the yard. The younger one would always sing to me while we groomed. The older one was quieter, but sometimes came down to read to me or draw pictures of me.

Then all of a sudden, they were sad. They’d come to sit in the corner of my box. They’d ignore me, staring at the walls, staring at the ceiling. They left my old straw in to go stale, and watched the spiders weave webs across the beams. Little One cried loudly, screaming into her hands, into soft teddies, until the old ones came to pick her up and carry her away. Bigger One would be allowed to stay here longer. She’d still read aloud at first, her eyes wet, her voice shaking until she couldn’t talk any more. Later she’d come to read silently.

But now, no one comes. The father and mother came to clean a few times. She emptied away the old straw and moved my haynet and water bucket into the tackshed. When the stable was empty, she measured all of the walls, taking notes. Later in the same day, the father came down here with her. She spoke to him about turning my stable into a workshop or a studio. He wanted to knock my stable down altogether. But none of those things happened.

Eventually no one came. I still watched them though. I watched the spiders cover my window in threads, and the rats scurry around to look for dropped feed, though they soon learned that there would be none. I watched the thorns come through my ventilation and creep across the walls. I watched my girls grow taller – from a distance, of course. My favourite time was summertime, when I could see them outside almost every day. One time, Little One had a visit from her small friends. They were playing in the garden and a girl I didn’t recognise came to my stable. She hid behind the door, ducked down, and giggled. When no one came to fetch her, she seemed to get bored and peeked over the door until my Little One saw her. She looked so different, her face looked so much older, and I realised that I had no idea how long it had been since I had seen her last. She beckoned her friend away and whispered to her something urgent, something sinister. “Don’t go there again…”

Soon the summer was over, and when my girls returned to their school, my days became longer with no one to watch. I still waited, never knowing what I was waiting for. Just staying here, quietly. Just watching. They dressed the house for Halloween. It reminded me how they used to dress me up at Halloween. One year they were princesses and they put glitter through my mane and a horn on my head. Another time, they were bumble bees and they covered me in flowers. This year, I saw them get in the car dressed as witches. It was already too dark to see them by the time the car pulled back home.

Winter seemed to come around more quickly than it used to. The rains came first. I liked the watch the drops racing down my window, but then it came in through the roof, too. Then it was the darkness. The days become short so quickly and my girls stopped playing out after school. It was lonely, but this winter isn’t as cold as I remembered it. Even with no straw, no food, I wasn’t cold. There must have been something wrong, because one day, while the children were in school, the older ones came down into the yard. There was a strange expression on their faces, like they were happy but were trying to hide it. There was hope on their smiles but I could smell the fear on them. The mother opened the door to my stable, the hinges stiff and noisy now, and told the father how cold it was in here. But I wasn’t cold.

After that, they came down here more. Only the older ones, not my girls. They swept and cleaned, clearing the thorns and cobwebs from my stable walls and scrubbing my buckets and grooming equipment. Then they began moving new things in – new tack, new rugs, new feed. I didn’t understand. I didn’t need any of those things any more.

It was only after they had dressed the house for Christmas that the snow came. It all looked very pretty. I always liked this time of year. It was always harder to stay comfortable and there wasn’t as much time to go riding, but everyone was so full of love. Surely they would come back for me now? Surely they would remember me at Christmas?

They did come back to my stable. But only when you arrived. I remembered the sound of the trailer from when they used to take me on adventures in new places. But this time, it was you in the trailer. My girls were still at school, and I watched the older ones walk you down out of the trailer and into the yard. You were very pretty. Taller than me. They tried to lead you into my stable and I hated you and I didn’t want you to come inside and you knew it. You knew this wasn’t your home, that this is my home, this is my family, that you won’t take my girls, that I won’t let you take my girls! But the older ones pushed you until you came inside. I tried to chase you out but I couldn’t touch you.

They brought you hay in my haynet and water in my bucket. They gave you carrots and gave me nothing. They groomed you and ignored me.

When they left, I tried to push you out, I tried to tell you to go. Sometimes it felt like you heard me, but still you stayed. And there was nothing I could do. I lingered at the far corner of my stable, our stable. You rolled in the straw and sniffed at the walls and watched the snow falling over the top of the door.

That was when my little ones returned from school. They were happier than usual, like they always used to be when their school time was over and they would be home all through Christmas time. You watched them enter the house, and moments later, the older ones lead them out again. The father held Little One’s hand, the mother walked with Bigger One. As soon as they saw you, then ran to our stable, and they looked at you like they used to look at me. You stood patiently while they stroked your face and then Little One began crying loudly, and Bigger One’s eyes were tearing up too. I was angry at you, for making them cry… but they weren’t sad. They were happy again. Happy like they used to be with me.

I stayed a little longer after they met you. Little One sang to you and Bigger One drew pictures of you. They groomed you, and took you out to ride, and cared for you. And slowly, I began to stop hating you. Because I’m not really around to make my girls happy any more. And soon, I don’t think I’ll really be around at all.

 

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