MONDAY: Sound of Horses


Copyright is held by the author.

SOFT, AT first, like distant thunder threatening above a soot black sky, their hooves carve divots in the earth, flinging clumps high behind them as in confetti-tossed celebration. Closer to the house their immenseness pounds the ground and shakes windows doors and walls, tea cups, plates and coffee cups tremble in the cupboards. They move past the window like swift, shadowy wiccas, massive girths like heavy sacks of grain lifted and dropped. The horses are loose again, circling the house in an ecstatic, ceaseless gallop.

My darling, Clementine, left me before summer. Summer is our time, declared in our sun-streaked bed on a hot August morning as the time of our perfect, irrefutable alignment. Nothing, not even the changing of seasons could tear us apart. Even seasons lie. Summer fooled me with its own assertion of power and effect. Clementine stopped loving me, and the horses circle the house.

Beyond where the horses run, on the other side of a leaning split-rail is the apple orchard older than anyone I know in this world. Blossoms explode, fall to earth, cast aromas, entice bees to come and feast. Moving life forward. Time restricts nothing, so when summer comes around it is merely an expression, like a smile. A week before she left Clementine rose from our bed, wearing my shirt too big for her, and turned, smiled, a tear sliding along her cheek and chin. The tear dropped, the smile vanished. Her scent and smile gone, the horses circle the house.

She’ll be coming today, to gather her things, she’d said. She’s making a run for it, to get away, from me, our life, home, affirmation. My vision is blurry, sound inserted into my body vibrates my empty shell. What happened to love? Why can’t it be strong and indestructible as they led you to believe? When nothing but sound fills you there are no answers. You’ve become an idiot. The horses circle the house. They do not want Clementine back. She’ll never be allowed back.

  1. Gordon:
    There are a few excellent lines in your story. However, I get the impression that your writing style, your ‘voice’, is not entirely yours. It comes across as rather rigid; too many how-to-write seminars perhaps.

    In Flash Fiction, where brevity is everything, keeping descriptions to a minimum engages the readers’ interest in the characters and the plot.

  2. Actually I think the descriptive imagery adds to my understanding of the protagonist’s point of view and emotional state. I liked the elliptical style Gordon used to get to what his character — the person who was left by the wife — was feeling. He showed us the character through describing the setting.

  3. I’m not sure that ‘descriptive imagery’ and ‘elliptical style’ belong in the same sentence.
    In a novel, there is lots of opportunity for obscurity, leaving the reader to believe that surely all will be revealed.
    In a mini-piece, that same obscurity has a tendency to push the reader away.
    My opinion only.

  4. I quite like this story. It’s personal, moody, and gives just enough description to invite the reader into the protagonist’s dilemma. The circling horses is a beautiful metaphor for many things: the turning of the wheel of life, the cyclic rhythms of Nature, of Time itself, and in this case the circling horses becoming a kind of psychological moat keeping out a love that vanished too suddenly. The pain is expressed in a lovely and sophisticated manner.

  5. a totally captivating story – the horses circling is haunting and reveals the pain of the narrator – such a sad revelation of how when love ends for one who is not ready the world becomes a place of tragedy where hooves thunder, tramples and pain encircles……keep writing this piece is rivetting !!!! well done

  6. I recommended that everyone read your story in my writing class today.

  7. In my opinion this story would do better with less horses circling the house.

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