–Oh, a horse!
A browncoat horse standing by a drystone wall, turns curious and looks at us.
The horse ambles over and meets our path in the middle of the field.
–Air, Apple says, and falls to the back of the group.
–They’re ok as long as you don’t get behind them, that’s what I’ve always been told, because they that’s how they kick, says Don.
He steps forward and offers the rear of his hand. The horse leans in to touch his red skin with its nose. It exhales with force from large nostrils and lowers its head to regard us out of one sad buck eye.
–Are. Nice horse.
I present my hand, it nuzzles and bites me.
–Don’t do that!, don’t bite.
I forgive the horse, and it looks at me shyly. Its eyelashes are short and curved like a doll’s. I place my hand on the side of its face and notice a strand of spittle hanging from a ridge under its eye. How it got that there. The horse lifts its head away from me and puts it in front of Don.
–Look at its cheekbones, it’s a model horse! he says.
We pat and stroke the horse. Apple touches it with reservations. It bites Don.
–Hah. It wants some food. I haven’t got any I’m afraid.
–Amazing how different an animal it is from us.
–And how strong.
We admire, and walk on. The horse steps neatly off beside us, guiding us bodily down the field to the river.
We stride to keep in front of it. The horse frisks, thrusting its neck snortily.
Apple skips away from its hind. We stop. Me and Apple move up the field backwards. Don and Angelo go forward intent on the wall, sideeye on the horse, now standing still. Likes me and Apple better. I start running. Bad idea it is good at that oh bad eye deer. Dead. Don and Angelo now watching from over the wall. First against. Heads only visible. Kurtz and sweet, here comes the chopper.
Also watching from the wall on the other side by the road, a dumbass by his car with a cap and sunglasses.
–Stay away from the horse! he calls, with the horse among us entirely. Stay away from the horse at all costs!
At his voice it makes a jumping spasm of excitement.
–Wah! Apple says.
–It bites! The horse bites! shouts the dumbass.
–Just stay calm, be very calm, I say, touching her arm remembering dogs and bees and sharks ? but having still no idea about horses.
Consider Apple’s ability to climb, spot a hole in the wall at ground level for sheeps or dogs but not or horses.
–Go through that hole. Run and go through that hole.
She runs away, her backbag slinging from side to side when the horse isn’t looking.
Friendly, the horse goes over to inspect Apple’s backside, uncertainly wiggling in the gap. It looks down at the bottom, glum, and when it disappears, returns its regard to me.
Like Sullenberger leaving last, I am alone in the field.
I dash for the wall and flip over to the other side.
Regrouped behind the stone, we hold up our hands. The horse bites Don.