Gabriella, the Burro With the Longest Ears

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

A hindrance to Gabriella transformed into a blessing for Pablo and herself. To heal one's Child Within, one must embrace their hot stove, so to speak. Otherwise, the pain nourishes resentments and hurt for others. I hope readers connect with their courage to heal in this story.

Gabriella, the Burro With the Longest Ears


To my dad, who gave me the seed for this story.

To those whose Child Within is wounded and angry.

To those who think they don’t have what it takes, you may be someone’s Gabriella.

To Jehovah Rapha, praise You…for Your love of healing!

The longest ears of all the burros Juan owned, belonged to Gabriella.  Her ears dragged upon the ground when she walked.  Whenever Gabriella took a step, she tripped herself walking upon them.  God’s blessings sometimes present in the hidden for just the right moment in time.

When Juan remembered, he tied up her ears with a bright blue cord, especially if someone hired her to carry grain, or seed, or vegetables.  Gabriella didn’t work often.  Only out of desperation did any farmer request Gabriella.  No matter, Juan loved her, anyway.

In the cool of the morning, from his modest home, Juan carried an armful of freshly picked carrots for his burros.  Whenever they spied his torso approaching from the hillside, they trotted to him, sometimes nudging one another out of the way as he handed out the orange treats.

He pastured the animals in a large field surrounded by a stonewall.  Dark green grasses grew for the burros to graze upon.  A drooping juniper tree sheltered them from the hot afternoon sunshine. 

“Ah, my beauties…patience…patience.I have plenty carrots for all!  You work hard for me.  I appreciate!  Enjoy!”

His young son, Pablo, unlike his father, teased the burros, often throwing sticks and pebbles at them…larger stones, too…if he could find them.Juan never suspected his precious son hurt his beloved burros. 

Whenever Pablo approached the burros, they galloped to the distant corners of the pasture.  Gabriella, however, because of her ears, could not flee like the others.  Pablo bullied her the hardest.  When Pablo’s flying rocks missed the other burros, he flung them at Gabriella.Juan could not figure out how she received welts on her legs and flanks. 

One morning as Juan and Pablo ambled to the pasture together, their arms overflowing with carrots, Juan noticed Gabriella limped.  He set down the carrots over the gray stonewall then removed his drooping sombrero for a better look.

“What hurts you my lovely one?”

“Pablo, how Gabriella hurts herself….do you know?”

“No, Papa.”

The burros stood a distance from the stone wall in a tight group.

“Odd…my beauties…not hungry?

Juan called to them once...twice...three times.They flicked their tails.  Two of them braved a few steps closer...then retreated.

“Later, Pablo…you guard my beauties today.  You hide. Tell me what happens to them…to Gabriella.” 

“Yes, Papa.” 

Juan and Pablo strolled to their gardens.  Today they weeded.  Juan grew carrots for his burros, and corn and a variety of peppers and tomatoes.

“No fun…Papa.”

“Yes, no fun.  We work…you like to eat? Water the peppers.  Maybe you like that better?”

Pablo grabbed a wooden bucket from the barn and ran to the well to fill it.  Some of the water Pablo spilled.  He couldn’t steady the heavy bucket.  Juan laughed as the water splashed his son.

“Keep you cool.”

“Could we go for a swim, later, Papa.  I really want to swim!”

“Maybe…later. “

As they toiled in the growing heat of the day, hunger rumbled their stomachs.

“Papa, a tortilla?  My arms hurt!”

Rows of pulled up weeds, grew limp in the hot sun.  Juan sighed.  He placed his weathered hands upon his knees and groaned as he stood up.  With his red handkerchief he wiped the sweat from his forehead and neck.

“I’m getting old, Pablo.”

Juan snatched the bucket from Pablo and flung it into the well listening for it to splash.  He hauled it up.  They threw water on their hands, necks, and faces.

Juan flung a fistful of water at Pablo.  The boy grimaced and laughed from the shock of cold water upon hot skin.

Juan smiled and stretched out his arm to Pablo.  With a swing Juan swooped up his son upon his strong shoulders then lowered the boy to the ground before his head hit the doorframe of their kitchen.

Red and green hot peppers of all kinds hung from the ceiling.  Juan sliced tomatoes and chili peppers into a corn tortilla.  He rolled it up and handed it to Pablo.

“You…watch good!  Yes?”

“Yes, Papa.”

Pablo unbuttoned a few buttons of his shirt and tucked the tortilla inside.  He skipped out the door and dashed to the pasture.  Along the way he spied two rocks as big as his fists.

The burros munched upon the carrots Juan and Pablo brought to them earlier.  They scattered at the sight of Pablo.  Gabriella stumbled over her ears as she fled.

Pablo flung his rocks missing all of the burros. Red-faced, Pablo scrambled over the stonewall.  He snatched up more rocks and flung them.  One caught Gabriella on her neck.  One struck the ribs of another.

Gabriella brayed.  Pablo laughed.  He spotted a few more rocks and grabbing them he chucked them at her, too. 

Gabriella brayed and brayed.  Her eyes widened.  She staggered after Pablo.  Following Gabriella’s lead all the burros chased him. 

They surrounded Gabriella and Pablo.  They closed in forcing Pablo to step closer to Gabriella and she…closer to him.  They showed their teeth.  Pablo held up a rock.

One of the burros turned and kicked up his hoofs at the boy.  Clumps of earth hit Pablo catching him off guard.  Gabriella butted him with her head.  Her ears wrapped around him.  He dropped the rock.  A miraculous moment...Pablo shrank in size and with one ear, Gabriella shoved Pablo into the other ear.

“What did you do to me, wicked burro!  Let me go, or I will chuck every rock I can find at you!”

The other burros brayed in laughter.

“You have no power here, Pablo.  A miracle!  You are now my prisoner!  Our prisoner!  You will never throw rocks at me or any of the burros ever again!  I will not release you!”

“Let me go!  Let me go!  My Papa will sell you when I tell him!”

“How will you do that?  Cruel boy!”

Feeling safe now, Gabriella and the other burros returned to the pile of carrots.  They ate in peace.  

Pablo fell down inside Gabriella’s ear.  He punched her, but she didn’t feel it much because of the tufts of soft fur.  She ignored him.

Pablo screamed and yelled.  He stomped and kicked inside her ear.  He tried to jump out but each time she shook her head.  He fell over.

“Let me out!  Let me out!” 

“No…no…no!  Your Papa is kind, gentle.  He talks to us and brings us carrots.  He cares for us when we are sick

If anyone hurt us, your Papa charges extra and does not hire us out to that farmer again.  Your Papa loves us, and we love him.

You, we could stomp you into the ground for all the rocks and sticks you pelt at us, and me, especially.  We don’t hurt you, because…we love your Papa.”

Pablo sat down in a huff, crossing his legs.  Though riddled with thoughts he couldn’t think of how to escape.  He kicked Gabriella with the heels of his boots.  She didn’t feel them.

“How did you shrink me?  How can you talk?  How?”

“I don’t know.  Don’t you believe in miracles?  Hasn’t your Papa told you?  Do you think you just…happened?”

Pablo often wondered…Juan never spoke of Marguerita, his wife, Pablo’s mama.  Sometimes, Pablo felt lonely…for his mama.  She died during his birth.  None of the mid-wives could save her.  Juan didn’t remarry.

“We burros know all children and creatures...the Maker designed us and sent us here to help one another.  You do not know this?”

Gabriella stopped crunching her carrot for a moment.  She waited for Pablo to answer.  When the burros finished eating, they gathered together under the juniper to enjoy the shade. 

After a time, Pablo remembered his hunger.  He removed the tortilla sandwich from the inside of his shirt.  Some squished peppers and tomatoes stuck to his shirt. He plucked them out and put them back into the tortilla

After devouring the tortilla and thinking deeper thoughts than he ever thought possible to think, Pablo yawned.  He leaned against the soft fur wall of Gabriella’s ear and fell asleep.  He awoke, in the dark, to the sound of his Papa’s voice.  The lantern Juan carried beamed a soft, round glow of light in the distance.

“Pablo!  Pablo!  Come home!”

Gabriella listened to the boy’s father, heard the fear in his voice.  Gabriella didn’t know that the pain in her heart, people called heartbreak.  She desired to release Pablo, but she knew she couldn’t. 

“Let me go!  My Papa is calling for me!  Let me go!”

Gabriella ignored the boy.

“No.  You hurt us, pester and tease us.  If your Papa knew....

Pablo stood up and threw himself into a fit of screaming.

“Let me go!  Let me go!  I will tell Papa to sell you!”

Gabriella shook her head.  Pablo fell.  Each time Pablo screamed Gabriella shook her head.  After a time, he stopped screaming and sobbed.

Gabriella didn’t sleep with the burros.  She didn’t know what to do.  Her sore heart felt pierced with a hornet’s stinger.

What would Juan think of his burro, if he knew?  Pablo doesn’t deserve his Papa.  His Papa deserves a son like himself...kind...thoughtful.  But this heartless boy!

Let him cry.  He can only cry for so long. 

Gabriella finally knelt down near the other burros. They closed their eyes to nap.  In time the white stars blinked their lights above them.  Pablo sobbed long into the night.

Crickets serenaded the pasture dulling the cries of the boy, until he fell asleep.Gabriella’s eyes closed in slumber as she listened to their symphony.

Before the morning light cascaded into the pasture, Juan approached, lantern in hand calling for his son again.

“Pablo, Pablo, my son.  Where are you?  You hurt?” 

Juan’s voice woke the burros and Pablo.

“Here, Papa!  In this wicked burro’s ear!”

Juan didn’t hear Pablo, too far away.In another fit of anger Pablo kicked Gabriella and punched her.

“Let me go!  Let me out!  I want to go home!  I want my Papa!”

Gabriella shook her head.  Pablo fell over. 

“I want to go home.  My Papa will cook breakfast for me.  I am hungry…and thirsty.”

“Plenty of hay here for you to eat.  Your Papa will bring us carrots, soon.  You can eat a carrot.  The dew on the leaves, enough for you to drink.”

“No!  I…want…to…go…home!  Let me go!”

Gabriella shook her head.

“Heartless child.  Your Papa doesn’t know what you do to us.  If only he knew.”

None of the burros worked today...Sunday.  Juan believed in a day of rest.  After the bells clanged time for worship…after Padre Manuel taught in the chapel.  Even after the mid-day meal, if a farmer asked to hire one of his burros, Juan refused.

The day passed much like the day before…and the day after as well.  Pablo refused the carrots and the hay.  He did drink a little water.  The sky had opened in rain.  Gabriella allowed him to reach out from her ear and fill his hands with raindrops.

“You won’t let me go?”

“I want youto live with your Papa.  Only kind and gentle boys live with their papas.”

Pablo thought about this.

“If I promise to never throw sticks and rocks at you again, would you let me go?”

“I don’t know.  You throw rocks and sticks at all of us.  None of the burros like or respect you.  You live only because of the kind heart of your Papa.  We love and respect him, his kindness to everyone…man…and beast.  Like The Maker...your Papa.”


“Yes, the Creator who formed us, all of us.”

“I hate the Creator.  He stole my Mama from me!”

“The Creator loves like your Papa loves.  Sorry, for the hole in your heart.”

“The boys at La Escuela...their Mamas...except for Maria.  Her Mama…the Creator stole, too!

How can a good Creator steal my Mama?  I hate the Creator!  I hate him!  I hate him!  I hate him!”

Gabriella thought hard about Pablo’s answer...the anguish cracking his voice.  As gently as she could, she asked the boy…

“Is that…why…you hurt us?  You want to hurt the Creator…your anger…you hurt us instead?”

Pablo never thought about the reasons he enjoyed hurting the burros.  He turned Gabriella’s words over and over in his mind. Something about the words Gabriella spoke to him….

Pablo didn’t speak nor scream for many hours…even when Juan called for him.  Gabriella worried.  She discussed with the other burros, but none could say anything helpful. 

The day passed into evening.  Evening passed into morning.  Gabriella heard nothing from the boy.  This morning, Juan carried, as he always did, an armful of fresh carrots.  This morning, he wept as he spoke to his burros, wiping his face with his handkerchief.

“My precious ones.  Have you seen my Pablo?

Gabriella brayed.  The hurt in Juan’s heart crushed her heart.  Gabriella brayed again…again…and again.

“Have you seen my Pablo?  My Precious One?”

Pablo ached to call to his Papa, but he thought Gabriella would only shake her head and he...fall over.

With his head bowed, Juan turned from the burros.  He stepped heavily as if his legs were tied to huge weights.  Gabriella observed him as he disappeared behind the hillside. 

“You want your Papa?”

“You know I do!”

“I will speak to the other burros.”

Gabriella whinnied.  Hearing her the burros formed a circle.  Pablo listened but didn’t understand their burro words.

Some burros pawed the ground.Others shook their heads and flattened their ears.  While others, flicked their tails to swat at biting flies.

Finally, they broke apart. 

“Pablo, we’ve decided to release you, because we love your Papa.  Know this…if you ever throw rocks and sticks at us again, I will catch and keep you prisoner in my ear until…the Maker calls one…of…us…home.  Do you understand?”

Pablo thought about this.  He never thought so much in his life.  He wanted to eat people food again…and he longed to see his Papa.

“Gabriella, I promise.  I’m…sorry.  What you said...I didn’t understand my anger.  When I threw the sticks and the rocks, for a little while, I felt better, but only for a little while.  I’m sorry.  Please tell the other burros.  I won’t hurt any of you ever again!”

Gabriella shook her head…hard.  Pablo fell out…back to normal size.  Stones and pebbles dotted the ground where he lay.Gabriella waited.

Pablo stood up and brushed himself off.  Then he bolted across the field leaping over the stonewall.

The burros watched him run away. 

“Papa!  Papa!” 

In the distance, Juan appeared at the crest of the hill. The burros eyed them as Juan embraced his son.  At that moment Gabriella could no longer speak nor think in human language.  None of the burros could.  Yet, she and the other burros wondered, in burro thoughts, if Pablo would keep his promise.

Many, many years passed.  Pablo never came to the stonewalled pasture again…in his youth.  However there came a day….

A young man, holding the hand of a woman with long, black hair strolled towards the pasture.  With his free hand the man carried a basket of carrots.  The woman held in her free hand a bright blue cord.

All the burros studied them with great curiosity.  The young man called to them.

“Precious ones!  Gabriella!  I have fresh carrots for all of you!  Papa, can’t walk so far anymore.  He sends you his love!”

The burros recognized the boy’s voice in the man.  Pablo released the hand of the woman and leaped over the stonewall.  He emptied the basket of carrots for the burros.  The he turned and helped the woman. 

“Gabriella, do you remember me?  I kept my promise to all of you.  I want you to meet Maria.  Do you remember?  I told you about her once. wife.”

“Can you understand this, Gabriella?  I discovered why The Maker blessed you with such long ears.  This angry, little boy needed to think…cry.  I had no cause to hurt any of you.  If you did not have your long ears, Gabriella, you wouldn’t have been able to trap me and…help me.

The Maker knew I needed someone, and he gave me you.  You helped a little boy…heal.  The blue cord, Gabriella?  Did you ever wonder why my Papa chose that color?  Blue…the color of my Mamacita’s eyes.”

Due to the kindness of The Maker’s heart once more, for this one moment in time…Gabriella understood people talk.

In her heart she smiled.  The Maker remembered her...a divine purpose for the length of her ears.  Her spirit glowed joy.

“Papa can’t come to visit you so often.  His knees hurt too much.  Maria and I will take care of you.  All of you.  Papa will come now and then.  He will ride in a wagon.”

Pablo turned to Maria.  She held up the blue cord and tied up Gabriella’s ears.


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Submitted: January 08, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Elise Pannon. All rights reserved.

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Crushed by the realization of the depth of my son's heroin addiction, prayer kept me sane. This e-book is a compilation of the prayers I remember. If you love a heroin addict, or any kind of an addict. I hope you find comfort and strength as you read.

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