Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 13

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Now I’m reading in bed, alone. I lie there at night and wonder when the meteor will fall on my house. Instead of death falling from above, the earth trembles below, a small shudder at first that bolts me upright. I remember other quakes. I loathe them. The second wave comes, an earthy growl, a shiver of windows and teacups, a coppery clatter as pans fall from shelves. In no time, I’m under the doorframe, the strongest, safest place in the creaking house. The third wave comes, a stronger shake, a sharper jolt. I fall to the floor, the carpet nubby under my face and clawing fingers. Then I hear a shriek of wood and metal, and I lie at my bedroom door, crying, as the house folds around me. The roof comes down with a roar, and though I’m still under the doorway, something strikes my head, my back, pierces my skin, and I go into darkness. I smell gas and smoke. I cough on dust and plaster once or twice. I feel like sleep.

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The horse is an old cuss, too old to live, if you want to know the truth. But he’s hanging in there, and his owner still rides him, bony back and all. She has taken him out for a ride and when she returns, she asks me if I’ll take him back to the pasture. I say why not, and swing up on his back. It’s hot as hell and the dust puffs up under his feet as he clops along. His back is bony and uncomfortable to sit on; she doesn’t use a saddle anymore because he’s too ornery about pulling the girth up tight. She babies him. I walk the old thing back down the lane. He sees something that startles him, terrifies him, and he’s rearing up. Suddenly I’m up high in the air, looking at his red-gold back. I’m sliding, no saddle to cling to, just slippery horsehide. He’s too old to prance around on two legs, and he’s tired besides. His legs give way and he falls to the ground, taking me with him. He falls on top of me, and I feel the air crushed from me. My head feels about to burst. I can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t even squirm. Then he rolls off and for

Julia Park Tracey | 13