If Wishes, Were Horses

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


I repeated what I heard my grandmother say during another conversation with her sister.  She said, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."  I really had to think on that one.  I loved watching horses on television.  However, the only ones I had ever known were on carrousels.  They were always dressed very fancy.  They would go up and down in the same spot while the floor moved around in a big circle.  They usually had a pole going through their body which looked very uncomfortable to me.  I knew they were not real but sometimes wondered why they kept them on a pole.  If they were not real, they would not run off, so, why the pole?  It was one of those curious things I was yet to understand.  I wish I understood a lot of things.
 
Grandmother had an older sister in fact she had several since she was the youngest.  This one was the one with the ranch.  She had horses, cows, chickens, and pigs.I had heard grandmother making plans for all of us to go out to the ranch and visit.  I was very excited.  I had learned a lot since the time we went to another grant aunt's farm.  I knew now not to try and milk a bull.  I also knew not to chase the rooster.  I had learned not to try and gather eggs when the chicken was sitting on them.  Preparations for the trip included having sugar cubes and apples.  I asked grandmother why, but all she said was she would have to show me.  I wish we were already there.
 
The whole family was in the car as we drove for what seemed to be a very long time.  We stopped to get gas.  My sister and I were told to stay in the car.  It seemed that this stretch of road was known for panhandlers also known as beggars.  The railroad track was not too far from there.  The beggars would sneak into the boxcars and ride the trains from one town to the next.  There was also a hobo camp between the filling station and a boxcar repair place.  There were several box cars in different stages of being repaired.  The beggars would slip into the boxcars to find shelter from the weather.  Empty paint cans were used to sit upon.  My sister and I became fascinated by watching all these men sitting in a circle around a big black pot.  There was a fire under the pot.  It seemed in order to join the group a contribution to the pot was needed.  I watched these men.  They were dirty, but they did not scare me.  One had a funny hat on and tipped his hat when he smiled at us.  I nodded and smiled back.  "Why do they beg?  Why do they stay so dirty?  Why?"  I wish I knew how to help them.  My mind was full of wishes for them.
 
"Little one, before you start in on three miles of why this and why that let me just let you know.  These people have no homes, no cars, very few clothes.  They live by catching the train when they can and by walking everywhere.  Most are men looking for work.  They join little groups like that one you see over there so they can feed each other and protect each other.  That way they don't have to do so much alone.  Now, do you understand?"  I wish they did not have to be alone.
 
"Yes, Mam.  It is so sad to see them having to work so hard just to get something to eat."  I thought to myself about it.  I wished they would not be hungry.
 
"We can pray for them.  Never be mean to them or call them names."  Some people do and it does no one any good.  We do not know how they ended up without homes so we should never judge them."
 
"Okay, I will pray for them."  The rest of the drive was quiet.  My heart thought about all we had as a family.  We were also all together.  These poor men had only strangers to talk to.  That was my first encounter with a beggar.  I was full of wishes for them.
 
We finally turned onto a country road that looked more like a path than a road.  Tall grasses were on either side of the road.  Other dirt roads seemed to branch off this one.  Suddenly we took one of those side roads and then I spotted a big house in the distance.  Lots of fences made of logs that had been notched on each end.  Several rows of logs with space in between made up the fence line that spread out into several sections.  The house was a two-story house with a long front porch.  I could see a long bench hanging from the ceiling of the porch.  Grandmother's sister and her husband were gently swinging on it.  They waved.
 
"We are here.  There is one rule from this point forward.  No one is allowed to run off by themselves.  All people shorter than my shoulder must always let everyone know where you are at all times."
 
"Yes, Yes, we understand."  My sister and I said as we jumped out of the car and instantly ran off towards the section where the horses were.  I had sugar cubes in my pocket and my sister had a sack of apples.  Grandmother had told us they were to give the horses a treat.
 
We watched the real live horses for a little while.  It was like being in a Western movie.  My sister and I climbed up on the fence to get a better look.  Grandmother had followed us and finally got caught up.  "I told you not to run off.  You are going to get to ride in a little while.  You can visit with the horses then.  Come and meet my sister and be nice."  I wish I could ride one now.
 
"Okay.  I had already gotten the attention of one of the horses.  I tossed him an apple.  He ate it up, core and all.  I was so amazed.  I did not have time to give him any sugar cubes.  Grandmother had a hold of my hand and I was being pulled along with my sister towards the house.  I wish it was time to ride now.
 
I tried to impress my grandmother's sister with my knowledge.  I spotted the bull and told her I knew not to try and milk him.  Everyone seemed to think that was funny.  It was not funny when the bull I tried to milk knocked me down and scratched the ground as he grunted and headed towards me again.  My daddy made a big noise and the bull snorted before turning away.  I did not tell them I had learned this lesson the hard way.  I wish the grown-ups would not laugh so long when Daddy told that story.  "You know now not to milk bulls, right?"
 
"Yes, they only have one spigot.  Cows have at least four.  Cows have more than one stomach too so they need more spigots."  All the grown-ups laughed again.  I wish there was a way to explain it to them without them laughing.  I did not think it was funny.
 
 "We are going to have chickens for dinner.  I think a couple of hens should do it."  That is all she said.  The woman walked out into the yard, snatched a couple of chickens by the head, and twirled them at the same time.  Their necks snapped instantly.  She stopped at a stump and with one wack each with the ax the heads were gone.  I was horrified.  My sister and I looked at each other.  We made it a point not to ask if they had names.  I wish I had not seen her do that.
 
I whispered to my sister that I was sure glad she did not say we were having ham.  I had seen another area with a big pig and a bunch of little pigs following her around.  I had decided this ranch was a dangerous place to live if you were an animal.  I also decided I was glad we went to the grocery store to buy our food.  Yes, it was best not to know who you were eating for dinner.
 
The time for the riding lesson came after the cooking had been started.  We were once again on top of the fencing that surrounded the horses.  The men were putting saddles on them.  We were so excited.  Our first riding lesson.  I watched carefully as the horse I had given the apple to had his saddle put on him.  I thought he was beautiful.  I must tell you now that I was wrong.  According to the man, it was not a boy horse.  The horse was a girl horse but I still thought she was the prettiest.  She was cream-colored with a mane that was a little lighter.  Her tail was long and silky looking.  She had darkish areas around her ears and eyes.  She seemed to be very gentle.  The keyword here is "seemed."  I was shown how to get onto her back by putting my foot in the stirrup and pulling myself onto the saddle.  The scene seemed to entertain the grown-ups but presented me with another life lesson.
 
The man had said to get up on the right side of the horse.  To a little girl who was always mixing up her left and right, this was a problem.  I, of course, picked the wrong side.  I got my foot in the stirrup on the left side of the horse.  Suddenly, she kicked me and I fell off.  Before anyone could come running to see if I was all right, I got up.  I went around the front of the horse and looked her in the eye.  I then went to the back of the horse and kicked her in the hip.  She swayed away from me.  I then got on the right side and proceeded to pull myself up on the horse.  The horse then started walking towards the water trough.  She did not just get a drink.  She splashed the water with her head and got me all wet.  I thought she was playing and started laughing.  I slid off the saddle and walked around to face my new friend.  I pulled out the sugar cubes in my pocket.  She touched my palm so lightly with her lip.  It tickled my hand.  She snorted.  I stroked her head and talked to her.  I then got back on the saddle and she strolled over to where my sister was on her horse.  My sister was holding on to her horse's leather strings but not pulling on them like the man had shown us how to do.  I got two apples from my sister's sack.  I gave one to her horse and one to mine.  "I wonder what your horse's name is?"
 
I decided to find out.  I pulled my horse a little to show her the direction I wanted to go.  We walked slowly towards where the grown-ups were watching from the porch.  "What is my horse's name?"
"Wishes.  We call her wishes because she has a way of begging for treats."  I thought about the beggars we had seen in that town.  Then I thought about what grandmother had said about if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.  I bent down from my saddle and gave Wishes a hug.
 
"Wishes, I know beggers need love.  I wish you lots of love."We had become friends even if we got off to a rocky start.  I had a. huge bruise on my leg where she kicked me.  It instantly taught me my left from my right.
 
Our trip home was unusual in that Daddy was so proud of me for getting back up and getting on the horse.  Grandmother was laughing about me kicking the horse.  My mommy was laughing about the whole day.  She especially asked if my grandmother's sister knew who we were having for dinner?  "Can I come to see Wishes again?"
 
"Sure, I was told that Wishes had a special place in her heart for little girls."  Grandmother gave me a hug.
 
I thought to myself.  I wish... then I stopped the thought.  I have wished enough today.  I am going to just store away the memory of when Wishes was a horse I got to ride.


Submitted: August 15, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Texasjane. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Grey-Nomad123

Brilliant again. I love your narrative. I could listen and listen...!

Sun, August 15th, 2021 10:16pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much. I really was not sure about this one but published anyway. So glad you liked it.

Sun, August 15th, 2021 4:58pm

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