She wasn’t very good at the task she was given. Then again, no nine-year old would be … at least not one who weighed 60 pounds soaking wet and was used to her regular t.v. lineup every day after school instead of hanging out by a broken down barbed-wire fence. The job at hand was one usually meant for a ranch hand, a blue heeler, or some other fool willing to stand flailing her arms around in hopes of not being stampeded.
Casey’s imagination ran wild wondering how much that mare weighed and what her own body would look like once it was stomped down to a bloody pulp on the dried-out grass beneath her dirty bare feet. In her mind’s eye, she could see horseshoe-shaped indentations in her flattened skull as they hauled her off to the morgue.
A big dapple-assed horse just missed its targeted gate and went to the field’s other end, giving her a short reprieve. She was catapulted to the past when, at another time in an also seemingly empty pasture, she found herself facing a similarly formidable opponent. Casey remembered walking back to where her family waited at the car when her dad hollered at her to turn around and look behind her.
They all considered it quite funny when she did an about-face and found herself almost eye-to-eye with a giant spotted pig … two times her size and bigger than any creature she’d been near in her short life. It grunted at her, and she screamed bloody murder. Casey stumbled over divots left in the once rain-soaked ground that had dried into ankle-breakers and sprinted toward the others. Her dad laughed and remarked he’d never seen her feet move so fast. They all yucked it up while she almost wet herself.
Her memory was full of such beasts, like the slaughtered hog once hung by its hind feet from a tree down by their pond. It was shot, gutted, and cleaned for the sake of its meat and swung there as if a sacrifice suspended from a monolith. Blood dripped from its descendant snout, a streaming red remnant of its then absent life.
One of her parents remarked how the damn porkchops tasted good, so the kids should hush up about how they ended up on their plates. “Turn your head if you don’t like it,” they’d said. “You won’t complain when your stomach’s full.”
Such were the bugbears of her disturbed slumber. It baffled her mother why she was so haunted by these trifling bugaboos, but they were very real to Casey. Dreamlife or not.
The mare’s whinny brought her back to the present and offered Casey a fleeting frisson as the animal’s gait reversed in her direction. She shook herself into action, jumping up and down in place and yelling, “Heyah, yah!” at the behemoth. Terror was momentarily overridden by the necessity of action.
It hurt her feelings more than anything that her dad didn’t realize how much acting as a tiny human stop-and-go light scared her. She wasn’t meant for this type of duty, and he should consider her safety more important than some inanimate object. Or a horse.
Besides … Gilligan’s Island had already started at 4 o’clock, and the theme music was well past by then. She was sure to miss Laverne and Shirley up next, too. Pondering the on-screen lineup helped her at least mentally escape the present dire straits.
Casey tried to make herself as large and daunting as possible, a veritable giant, in volume if not stature. Her heart could make her voice become as big as necessary to keep from being trampled, and her dad and this horse would learn just how much larger than life she could be.
This post generated from the writing prompt “hurt” at Studio 30 Plus.