Please obey me!
If thoughts had any power he’d hear me and follow my commands. My beautiful, impossible to train stallion. But he doesn’t react to my thoughts anymore than he does to my voice and continues to race around the paddock, kicking up snow as he goes.
“You’re almost out of time!” Kor’s hateful voice reaches me from behind. I refuse to turn around and face him. He doesn’t need to see how close to despair I am.
“If I can’t saddle and ride him tomorrow it will be curtains for him and repercussions for you.”
Tears burn in my eyes because I know he means it. I’m not afraid for myself. Kor’s punished me in the past and will continue to do so in the future, regardless of whether or not I manage to train this horse for him. He enjoys it too much. He thrives on my pain, loves to see me cowering; his power over me is total and he relishes it.
“You can stop now.” He sounds impatient. “It’s clearly not going to happen and I want my dinner.”
Still without looking at Kor I walk towards the gate and reach to open it. The stallion—officially still unnamed, although I think of him as Hero—will see himself into his stable.
“Leave it closed.” I detect glee in his voice now. “He might as well stay out there. If he won’t serve me, he doesn’t deserve the heat or the food.”
“But…” I turn around and close my mouth the moment I see him. I know this mood, the more I plead for Hero, the harsher Kor will tread him—and me. I lower my gaze, resist turning back to look at Hero and walk to the house to prepare food for our tormentor. I try not to worry about sub-zero temperatures and what they’ll do to Hero, but it’s a futile effort.
I wait until he’s fast asleep and snoring loud enough to wake the dead before carefully sneaking out of bed. Without breaking stride I pick up my clothes and walk through the house, unlock the front door and let myself out. The cold night air assaults me instantly, making me shiver and my teeth shatter in my mouth. I dress as fast as I can with fingers so cold I can barely coordinate their movements. I’m not sure when exactly I decided enough was enough. Was it while I was cooking and saw Hero shivering in a corner of the field? Or was it when he put his gun and his whip on the table saying, “one for that useless piece of meat and one for you”?
There’s no hope for me, but maybe I can save Hero. After all, what can Kor do? He’ll punish me until I’m broken anyway. It will hurt less if I don’t also have to deal with the pain of having seen Hero die.
I walk to the paddock, and open the gate. It’s all I can do. That and hope that Hero will recognise the opportunity I’ve given him. Hero trots towards the exit but I don’t stay to watch him leave, turning back towards the house instead. I haven’t taken ten steps when I hear a soft neigh in my ear. Hero strides past me, bends his legs and lies down, turning his head to look at me expectantly. Joy fills my heart as I decide to trust him and settle myself astride his strong back. Hero raises himself with ease, as if I weigh nothing, and takes off towards goodness only knows where.
To my shame I have to admit that I can’t remember who suggested this wonderful photo (must do better). If I ever remember or find out, I’ll give credit where credit’s due. J
As always, more stories based on the same picture can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook.