Archive for October, 2007

October 28th, 2007

» soon

The mood in the airport is one of veiled tension. There are all of the old trappings of the way things were — the scattering of kiosks full of last-minutes, all gum and sunglasses and cheap trinkets. The unmanned information counter. The bright posters promising eternal sun over sparkling seas and better teeth and perfect reception. And then there are the old checkpoints with the new guards. Young and nonchalant and a little terrifying for it. The lazy weight of their power. Their laughing assurance.

This is the last gateway; if we can make it through and onto our flight and into the air we will be free from here — this city, this country, this planet. My sister is at my elbow, my mother just ahead of us. We are a happy, dutiful, unassuming family; we are happily going on vacation, unaware of the way the world is turning now, the change sweeping through. Of course we plan to return. Why wouldn’t we?

And so we make it past the guards and are swept along in the general tide of traffic, but then the hallway bends and beyond us my mother is lost for a moment from sight, and then she is just lost. Vanished. We pretend not to have noticed, walking on, but shortly I see my mother’s work badge clipped on a storefront display. I take it as we pass, and a few stalls later I pause by another display, deftly removing two of my mother’s pins from a little rack of earrings and slipping them into my pocket with the badge. They are the only clues she’s left us, the badge she dropped and the valuables taken from her, already on display for sale.

If they have seen me I will be stopped for shoplifting, and it will be clear that I am suspicious about my mother’s disappearance. If I’m caught with these items, it’s over. And so when I see guards moving through the crowd up ahead, working leisurely my way, I turn and begin retracing my steps as my sister continues on. I slip my hand into my pocket and trace the hard corners of the badge, my heart in my throat. Do I dare keep it? Do I dare drop it? As I am passing through the Walmart clothing section I let the badge and pins fall, praying that no good samaritan will see and try to return them to me. I walk faster, veer right, heading into the tall labyrinth of the garden center. It is nearly deserted here, harder to hide. I reach the end of an aisle to discover a maintenance man. He looks up from his pitchfork and bucket and though we’ve never met we recognize each other at once. He steps forward and we fall silently in pace together, and a moment later he takes my hand. I am doomed but my relief at this small contact is staggering. Our fingers slide together, dark and light and dark, and he leads me onward, buying me what time he can. In other circumstances, in another life, if we make it out of here alive, we will be lovers, will be delirious with each other, will build a quiet private life on some secluded shore and make dozens of fat, happy babies.

After I am found I am taken to the children’s barracks, a big room with rows and rows of beds all crowded together and kids eight to eighteen, the scared and the devastated and those already hardened, snide, the old hats, the hopeless. All the orphans of this new regime. My brother finds me, Mark with his thatch of blonde hair and sharp ferret’s face behind round silver glasses. Mark, twelve, who should be too old for whining, for the fuss he raises, but behind it is fear and I quiet him, help him find a bed, tell him things will be all right.

Later the mothers are brought around, part of the charade that things are okay, that everything is above-board. We see her only briefly but already she looks older, exhausted, a little hopeless. We don’t get a chance to speak and I do not know what they are doing to her, what work they are making her do, what life they’re robbing, but I know she will not last long. And I know soon they will be taking me to the other place, me and the other girls, and if there is to be any chance for any of us we must act soon.

October 19th, 2007

» getting there

I dream of him constantly. I wake up with a vague sense of it, ghosts of mundane conversations about saddle pads, lunging, picking up hooves.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about his hooves, actually. They were terribly overgrown when I got him, going all flat and beginning to crack. The farrier was out Monday, and they’re about half the size now. I can’t get over how beautiful they are. They look so strong and tidy. The farrier put a little roll on them — I think they call it a mustang roll? — and it’s exquisite. Honestly, though, I kind of can’t wait until I don’t have to worry about his feet so much. He’s still learning to pick them up politely, and adding in the two straight weeks of rain we’ve had — that is, a solid coat of mud clear to his hocks, and his general dislike of having his legs hosed off, and the daily required oiling to prevent further cracks, six hours later I end up rather muddy and wet. Such a production.

He’s so good, though. Astonishingly good. Everything takes twice as long because he’s still learning the basics, but it means I get to spend twice as long with him. Every minute is worth it. I muse a little on the big goals — eventing, that first gallop over a real cross-country course, giving foxhunting a whirl, even just cantering under saddle — but mostly I’m dreaming small. Consistently standing still for grooming. Big round lunge circles. Trotting on cue. The big stuff’s for one day, and lately I’m all about today. Whiskery horsey kisses and that hint of gloss coming into his coat (which, admittedly, is mostly my imagination; but this spring, boy, hold onto your socks — he’s going to be one gorgeous boy).

October 15th, 2007

» trick or treat

Saturday was vet day and the Halloween party out at the barn. Everett was a rockstar for the vet; he had to get a flu vaccine, which is intranasal, which means they shoved this tube up his nose and squirted in the vaccine — some kind of vapor, I think? He didn’t exactly like it, but the fussing was very minimal. And later on he got to bob for apples (he didn’t get one, but the only horses who did were both Arabs — Arabs are smart as hell), and be lead all over by a delighted two-year-old. It was a very good day.

Rach & Ev

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October 11th, 2007

» ‘the prettiest sight to see’

It feels like Christmas.

It feels better than Christmas. It feels like Christmas when you’re a kid and you wake before dawn and lie in bed dreaming about your stocking bursting at the seams and that big sparkling tree riding on an absolute wave of brightly-wrapped boxes, and you peek over the edge of your top bunk bed to your sister as wide awake below, and you share a whispery giggly what-feels-like-forever debating if it’s still too early, is it time yet, how about now, and you’re finally scampering out to the living room and it is a wave of gifts, a wave of things and warm breakfast smell and a happy glowing family and new snowfall outside the window. And this Christmas, if this were Christmas? There’d be a pony under the tree.

A horse, actually. My horse, coming in just over two hours.

October 9th, 2007

» Everett

Isn’t he beautiful?

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