Over the Hills

She resolved not to cry. Not then. Not  ever. No matter what he did. He could be mean as he wanted, smash everything into a million little pieces.

“Mustangs are not orange,”  her sister said, wagged her finger at her.  It was that blank time between Christmas and New Years and they were on their third straight day of ten below zero.  The wind made it too cold to play outside.  Avis and her five siblings were stuck inside, running around then gorging on left over ham and Russian teacakes.

“Besides it’s a thoroughbred,”  she  continued. “Can’t you tell the difference? It should be brown with white leggings.”

Her sister waved the box the model came in up in the air as if a whole classroom listened.  Avis longed for a mustang so she painted her thoroughbred orange and called it a mustang.

“Neigggh” she said, trotted by her sister and  then her father, neighed especially long and high, alternated between  loud clicking sounds.   A mistake maybe, neighing to her father.  He was an imposing man, given to bouts of darkness.

She was deep into remembering the Rockies, and the ranch where they camped a summer not so long ago. The one with the  boy who took her, and her brothers, and sister horseback riding into the mountains. She was imagining the meadows when her father grabbed the model horse out of her hands, and threw it toward the garbage can.   The mustang landed hard, and broke at the neck.

“It’s not a god damn mustang,” he said.

Avis stood quiet until he left.  Then picked the horse up and held it tender, neighed quietly, galloped round and round the house and over the hills and far away.  She remembered climbing up the round wooden rails of the corral to get on her horse.  Remembered the boy, barefoot and no saddle. The way he turned to them and smiled before he  busted into a gallop, the way they  flew through lupine meadow and pine forest, she and her brothers and sister. Remembered the way they grasped at whatever they could, tried their best just to stay in the saddle.

(from a writing challenge – had to include a mustang, a New Year resolution, comfort food, a mountain range, a seventies song,  and hope) (was to be 300 words but its more than that )

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Aunt Beulah says:

    You did so much with 300+ words, some of them required; it’s a complete story with believable characters and dialogue. It left me feeling like I wanted to spend more time with the mustang-loving girl. I liked the subtle way you included the prompt words, but must admit I couldn’t detect the 70’s song. Could you give me a hint, or, better yet, enlighten me?

  2. Thanks – it was a fun challenge. I was surprised when it seemed to turn into a complete little story. Its a Led Zeppelin song. Over the Hills and Far Away from Houses of the Holy album. My husband suggested it – I had another song but this one seemed to fit better. It is a pretty subtle reference though! My husband is a very big Led Zeppelin fan. I can’t say I match his fandom but I do like them.

  3. Aunt Beulah says:

    Now that I know, I agree that the song matches the piece and the challenge. I listened to Led Zeppelin a lot in the early seventies but since then they’ve disappeared from my radar.

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