Phantom Horse

A veil of fog clings stubbornly to the air, like gray gauze wrapped tightly around the world to keep it whole and intact. She steps out of the woods like a phantom horse, her silhouette appearing from a break in the icy trees.  Her thick, black coat blends into the grayscale landscape as she stands motionless in the clearing. Muscles taut, head high and ears pricked, she listens for the sound of danger from behind her. The image of wolves or coyotes circling her and sinking their sharp teeth into her tender flesh haunts her.  But there is only stillness and silence.

She takes a few tentative steps forward. Out in the open, there is safety in numbers. The weakest or the slowest fall prey to hunters when a herd flees, the sound of their hooves making the earth rumble as they run for their lives.  But she is an anomaly, a lone horse fending for herself.

Hunger gets the best of her. She relaxes, dips her head and paws the frozen ground, rooting and foraging for food that might be hidden beneath it. Her thick mane cascades over her neck and shoulder and her forelock nearly covers her eyes.

A loud crack, like a gunshot, pierces the air when a branch breaks under the weight of snow and ice. Her head snaps up, all her senses again on high alert. Nostrils flaring, she turns to quickly and gracefully disappear back into the woods. A dusting of snow dances and flutters in her wake before it too settles and disappears like a puff of smoke.

Author’s note:

This story was inspired by the photograph of Heidi, my Canadian mare,  taken by my friend and talented photographer Carmin Cristofaro. We need to find the beauty that still exists in the world during these uncertain times and I found it in this photograph.

On a lighter note, Heidi’s waistline makes it clear that she is neither wild nor starving. But, despite her bulk, she is a graceful and elegant creature who has graced my life for many years.

SoCS: The Next Big Win

He had booked the last flight home and it was intentional. “That way, they won’t be expecting me. The element of surprise will be on my side,” he thought with satisfaction.  The plane’s wheels hit the tarmac rudely jostling the passengers and then it sped toward the gate before the pilot applied the brakes. The aircraft then coasted the remaining part of the way until it nosed its way to the gate.

“Right, showtime,” he said to himself as he hefted his carry-on bag from the overhead bin.  He knew his family would not be overjoyed to see him. His father, in particular, had muttered “Get out of my sight,” in disgust and frustration the last time they saw each other. His mother would be his saving grace. He was her weak spot, her Achilles heel. He felt a pang of guilt when he thought about how he would play to that to get her to loosen her purse strings yet again. But not enough to deter him. After all, there was a great Casino in his hometown and he felt his next big win coming on.

Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt is “ght.” Find a word that contains the letters “ght” in that order, and use it any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use three or more different words containing those letters. Have fun!

Bus Ticket to Nowhere

Written for Linda G. Hill’s Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for August 10th is “where.” Start your post with the word “where” and write whatever comes to you. Bonus points if you end your post with “where” too.

Where did I get the idea? That’s a good question. If I had to pinpoint a time when the seed was planted in my brain, I guess it would be when I lost my job. Well, I didn’t lose it exactly; the powers that be took it away from me. I wasn’t needed anymore, they said. They wish there was another way, but the economy and downsizing were to blame, they said. They couldn’t look me in the eye the entire time of that exit interview. “But you didn’t let everybody go. How did you choose who stayed and who left?” I asked. They didn’t answer, just kept repeating about the need to downsize.

That’s the first time I remember thinking: “I wish I were someone else.”  But it was just a harmless seed, planted deep within my brain. I mean, who hasn’t wished that at one time or another?

Then came the breakup with Joe. You spend two years with a man and he kicks you to the curb like a rabid dog. I’d changed, he said. I wasn’t the same woman I was when we met. I used to be fun, loving and ambitious. But since I lost my job last year, I spend my days moping around the house and haven’t even tried to find a new one. If you ask me, he just wanted someone to pay half the bills.

So there I was,  a grown woman with no job and no home. Who wouldn’t want to be someone or somewhere else? And then I found that wallet. I had every intention of returning it but that little seed began to grow and blossom.  And it was so much easier than I thought!

I took it step-by-step:  New birth certificate and driver’s licence first, then credit cards.  I was anxious, and each day wondered if this was the day police would track me down and question my requests for these documents. But it never happened. And before I knew it, the seed was a flower in full bloom. (It’s ironic that the woman who owned the wallet’s name was Rose. I guess it was a sign.) So I bought a bus ticket to nowhere and now Rose is on the move and Linda can’t be found anywhere.

I don’t usually write fiction, but this is where the prompt took me!