Aside

First Meetings (part 2)

If you recall, Rose and I have been talking about how she and Harold first metan exercise suggested to me by the editor that heard my story pitch. When we left Rose last time, she had stopped mid-story for a glass of lemonade.

I don’t know about you, but the wait has been excruciating.

Finally, I’ve pinned her down for more…

 

After some coffee—strong, because that’s what Rose thought I meant when I said something “stronger”—we settle on the porch swing. The sun is low on the horizon and I’m wishing I’d brought a sweater with me. Evenings get chilly in a hurry this time of year.

ROSE: Now, where were we?

TM: You had just found yourself face to face with—

ROSE: Oh, yes! Well, I wasn’t sure what I was face to face with. This… thing… covered in muck and blood stood outside a dilapidated shed.

My imagination got the better of me as I pictured any number of gruesome scenarios that might take place next. But my feet refuse to move. Instead, I rather lamely say, “Your cow has attacked my Packard.”

“Come with me,” Harold answers, although, of course, I don’t know his name yet, and he grabs my hand, dragging me into the shed and plopping me down on a hay bale. I begin to protest, thinking what is this madman planning, but I’m interrupted by a distressing groan, and Harold goes to the side of a small, cream-colored mare lying in a stall.

“Hey! What about my Pack—” I shout.

He barely acknowledged me, other than the glare he shot my direction. Instead, he spoke in hushed tones to the horse, comforting her.

It was clear the mare was in some sort of distress, but only when I see the poor girl’s side heave with life do I fully realize the situation. Her groaning and grunting increase, and several times she tries to stand, only to have Harold gentle her back to her side.

This continues for what seems an eternity, when Harold says, “Come here. I need your help.”

I turn, looking for some other person in the shed.

“Come here,” he repeats. No gentle tone for me.

“Me?”

“Of course you. Do you see anyone else in here? Stormy’s foal needs to be turned.”

“And you think I can do that? I don’t know anyth—”

“You don’t need to know anything. You just need to follow directions. Now, come here!”

I did as he asked, only to be pushed brusquely to my knees near Stormy’s business end.

Now. I need you to feel around and tell me what direction the foal is lying.”

I look at the mare, then reach a hand toward her side.

“Not like that. Inside.”

I felt like an idiot, because all I could manage was another blank stare, followed by a feeble, “How?”

He grabbed my hand, positioning it at poor creature’s swollen hind end. “In there. Until you find the foal. Then tell me what you feel.” When he saw my apprehension, he spread his hands wide. “My hands are too big. They will both die unless you do this.”

For lack of a better word, I dived in, closing my eyes, as if that would somehow protect Stormy’s dignity. The canal was soft. Pulsating. Alive. I squeezed my eyes tighter.

{Rose stops here and takes a sip of water.} I’m not embarrassing you, am I?

TM: No. It takes quite a lot to cause embarrassment nowadays.

ROSE: Oh, yes. I keep forgetting you’re from a different era. Well then, let me continue…

“Keep going,” Harold says, seeing my hesitancy. “Tell me what you feel.”

I pushed forward until I came to a large bump. “Oh! I think I found something. It’s—” I felt around some more. A bump. But not a single bump. No, two round halves, with a knob at the top. “I found the tail. I think.”

“Good. Now, can you slide around its rump until you find a leg?”

I pictured the foal’s anatomy as my hand rounded the curve of his thigh. “Found it. They’re under him, sort of like he’s standing up in there.”

“Good girl.” His voice had taken on that calm tenor he used earlier with the mare. “Now, slide your hand further in until you find his hoof. Got it? Good. Now, using the natural bend of the joints, see if you can angle one leg so it’s stretched out behind him. Then do the same with the other.”

I was up to my elbow in horse, by now, but after some fiddling, and not a little cursing, although I kept that under my breath, I managed to get the foal’s legs into the birth canal. I nodded to Harold. “Okay. Now what?”

“Pull! Pull until that hoof gets to where I can see it so I can take over.”

Tug, I did, until I plopped backward on my behind, letting loose a most unladylike grunt. For a minute, I thought I’d lost the foal’s foot, but Harold stepped in and grabbed it, pulling it downward and toward the mother’s legs.

Poor Stormy wanted to rest after that, but Harold would have none of it. He kept pulling, talking to her all the time. I watched, trance-like.

It was awful. Just awful.

And beautiful. If something can be awful and beautiful at the same time. I couldn’t look away. Here was this beautiful, gentle man whispering sweet nothings to his mare and the brand new baby we had just delivered.

I don’t know how much time passed. An hour, maybe. At any rate, it was full dark when Harold took my hand to pull me to my feet. I’d been so focused on the baby, I hadn’t considered the state of my hands, covered now in blood and slime and bits of hay.

“You did great. Thanks. Now, what’s this about my c—”

But his words were echoey and far away, and the light in the barn seemed to be closing in.

Then the world went black.

[Evil of me, right? To stop here? One last installment, here.]

4 thoughts on “First Meetings (part 2)

  1. No! I want more! Does he offer her tea or anything back at the house? What’s happened to the car left up on its own? Can we see more of the foal? Does she come back to visit the horse the next day? And…

    Like

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