The storm of hay and rain i run through is tender to my hoof. Her weight is barley a drop of sugar on my saddle. She makes no noise, all i hear is the breath coming from her lungs. I pass a puddle; i see a reflection briefly of myself, her straddling me. She looks ghostly, other worldly. Like an angel. No other word, no other phrase could do her beauty justice, even if it's just a phantasm in my mind's eye, a fallacy.
"Where am I going? In what direction, for what. How far do we go?" Her voice is a whisper of baby's breath and fox gloves. Of course i can't answer. I neigh in what i hope is a comforting tone. But she will never know my concern fully. She strokes my mane, she has gentle fingers, like delicate china, and very cold.
I know where i am taking her. I know this because when no one is there. When no one can hear her pain, her sorrows, she tells me. I know where to take her to make her happy. I know where because at midnight, every Wednesday since last June i have taken her there.
The story itself is something i have pieced together. And something i can understand.
Her name is Avery. She is the daughter of the late Count Fawkes Gallagher. He left this earth, his fortune, and his then fourteen year old daughter to the mercy of a world that was to dark, too sharp and deadly for her. She is a pin cushion surrounded by needles.
Shortly after, she was taken in by a suitor, who married her when she turned sixteen. He is now known as Count Vandyke I had been with her for five years by then. I was by all accounts her best friend. She hated her husband, but this isn’t the time for women, this isn’t the time for them to rise up, to speak, this is the time of man. And from what i have seen they are taking advantage of it.
When she turned sixteen she met a young man. A man her age, a stable hand in fact. He is a nice man, unlike the others he likes horses. They met and when i saw their eyes lock i knew then what would happen, what i would need to do for her. She didn't even have to ask. The next night when she snuck down to meet me for the first ride out there i was stood ready.
For all the years i have known her, and she me. We have never spoken of how and why i know what is happening, of how and why i know what is going on in her mind. How i am basically as free thinking as she is. And to be honest i don’t know why. The other horses have no concept of speech. So i don’t know if they are intelligent. Regardless they are frightfully dull company.
This trail is a new one. I couldn't risk the old one, which i am sure the Count will be hot on the false track. A murder of crows fly ahead. She shudders, she hates birds, always has. She clings tighter, tugging my hair slightly. But i don’t feel it.
My muscles are burning. It feels like my bones are full of gravel. I can feel them rattling with each moment. But i don’t stop. I can't stop until she gets to him, to John. When she sees his face i can rest.
Cold wind bites like a predatory animal. But i don’t give in. A sharp stick hits my hoof. I don’t give in. My vision blurs. But i don’t give in.
Then i hear it. There is another horse. It is behind me. I can't turn around. But she does. I feel her stiffen. My blood runs cold. The count found us. Followed us. I need to create some distance between us. If my life was ever to mean something. It is this moment that will be the definition of my existence. I go faster, as fast as i can go, then faster. I run until my lungs cry with each contraction. Just one hundred meters, just a few more seconds. We are so close to John. From here there is about a mile to go. The count is brandishing a rapier. He shouts curses.
This is it.
Now or never i suppose.
I stop and buck slightly, as gently as i can. I make her get off. She doesn’t want to. I buck harder. I see the count closing the distance. She gets off. I gesture with my head for her to get out of the way. She runs to the side of the small trail. The count closes in.
I rear up. I hit the hours. I make sure my hoof hits him. I hear the crack in slow motion. I watch in terror and fascination as his face imploded on itself. I hear her terrified scream. The other horse knocks my leg. The count falls back. Dead before he hits the ground. The other horse gets past me and keeps running. The last i see of it, it is a silhouette against the back drop of a full moon.
I stroll up to her. Limping on my back leg. She is crying.
"Thank you my love hush. I will get john he can help. Rest your leg and sleep." She puts a gentle hand on my head and strokes. I almost do as she says.
But i can't.
Not when i am this close.
I nudge her. She shakes her head. I do it harder. I go behind her trying to lift her onto my back. Doing everything i can to force my broken leg to move. She is crying. I neigh. It sounds feeble. But it somehow convinces her.
She gets back on. It is the final mile or so. I think. The pain is nearly unbearable. But i just put more weight on my other leg. I move at a steady pace. A blurred shadow is falling slowly. It's descending over my left eye. I can see Johns house, his secluded little hide away. Avery starts to scream for him, i neigh weakly.
As i approach he hears. He runs out. As he gets here Avery jumps from my and his taken in his arms. I smile inwardly and feel my legs give way. I hit the floor. I look now and notice more blood than i expected.
"Oh god my lovely. He is stabbed you in the side. My love you were brave." She kneels down. We both know this is the last time i will see her. As soon as the moon stops shinning i will die. John kneels by her.
"He saved you" He says. Im thankful for his hand on my mane.
"I don’t want to leave. I am staying till the end. I owe him that much." She sobs. I nuzzle her cheek. Even raising my head takes too much work.
I feel myself slipping.
Good bye my beautiful Avery. Good bye my love. Live and love.