I hated to say goodbye. I’d been dreading it for months. The thought of it shattered my heart into a million little jagged pieces. How was I going to find the strength to utter the word “goodbye” to someone I loved so dearly? The prior 364 days had been some of the roughest yet best days of my life. But the day I feared, loathed and hated was sadly upon me. It was time to say goodbye to my lease horse, “Beautiful Day,” otherwise known as Baron. Baron was a fluffy dark haired horse with a caramel colored nose. His eyes were dark brown and when you looked into them, he held your gaze. I’d never met a horse with such sweet eyes staring back at me. Eyes with such a pure old soul behind them. I swear they shined. He was talented, athletic, and a prince in the ring. However, it was outside the ring that our bond really developed. This was the horse that gave me kisses for cookies, wrapped his head around me when I was cold as if he were hugging me and helped me through the hardest few months of my life while dealing with a serious concussion. This horse was special. He knew how to help me. He loved what he did and did it everyday, no matter what. But before I knew it, a year had passed and it was November 3rd, 2017. The day I had dreaded for a year. It was my last day with Baron.
My mom drove me to the barn to ride him one last time. The weight of our sadness felt unbearable. We were both silent.
“I can’t believe this is the end.” I said softly to my mom.
“I know, but think of all the good memories you had together.” she replied, trying to make me feel better. Yet, I still felt horrible. It was time to have my final moments with my trusted, loyal partner.
Riding him wasn’t what mattered most; it was the bond that was so important and special to me. He’d been my best friend and practically a therapist to me. How can you say goodbye to your horse, your therapist, and especially your best friend all in one moment? It killed me inside to do so.
I took my time tacking him up. I took in his smell. I rested my head on his neck. I felt his breath on my face. I stared at him and I wondered if he knew how much I loved him. Did I make him feel secure, happy and safe they way he made me feel? Did he realize how grateful I was to him for helping me through depression and sadness? Did he know that he was the reason I got out of bed? For several months, I suffered from intense headaches. I spent my days in my dark silent room. I couldn’t go to school, I was on anti-seizure medications and my world felt lonely, except when I was with Baron. In many ways, he saved my life.
We rode one last time together. As always, Baron seemed to be in tune to what I needed. He was relaxed, and I was able to relax and be in the moment. It was beautiful, just like Baron. We returned to his stall and I groomed him. Before I knew it my mom came over.
“The trailer is here.” She said as she walked over to give Baron a kiss. “I’ll give you a moment to say goodbye.” Mom was crying.
Tears rolled down my face. I hugged him and he looked back at me as if he were telling me, “It is going to be okay. You are going to be okay.“ I kissed him and thanked him. I loaded him onto the trailer. His head was sticking out and we looked at each other. We were saying goodbye. No words needed to be spoken. The trailer pulled out and just like that he was gone. My best friend was gone and all I could do was cry. I could barely breathe. I walked back to the barn and saw his empty stall and I felt an intense pain in my heart. I looked at my mom in agony and she understood. We hugged. We drove home. And like the drive to the barn, we drove home in silence.
I loved this horse so much. I still miss Baron, and I am sad that our time together was finite. But now, I feel grateful and very lucky to have had this majestic magical creature in my life. I now own my own horse. Otto is unique and wonderful, but he is no Baron, and I’m okay with that. Baron was that once in a lifetime horse that many riders don’t ever find.
By - Elizabeth Trodden
Other than his soft breathing, and the impatient tapping of his pen against the desk, the office is completely silent. Jack raises his eyes from the empty notebook page. His pupils dart to look at his phone, then up at the open laptop. The email site is open on a separate tab next to his homework assignment. But there isn’t a single sound; not a single message.
The young man lets his pen drop to the desk and gazes out the window, letting out a heavy anxious sigh. A squirrel, nibbling on a dirty acorn, looks up at him and quickly dashes away. The young man frowns. “How am I supposed to think like this?” he grumbles and grinds his teeth out of frustrations. He leans his face against the desk and crosses his hands over his head. “WHY!?”
That day had started off like any other typical day, maybe better. Jack woke up that morning feeling more motivated than ever. In his head, he believed it was going to be a great day. Jack smiled at all the other college students he passed in the hallways and enthusiastically handed out high-fives to all his good friends. He almost got a 100 on a class test, and was feeling extremely proud of himself. He even got a few errands done around his dorm, and gave his car to be worked on by the students in the mechanics and engine class. He had complete confidence that today would be a great day.
At the end of all his classes for the day, he went back to his dorm room to work on homework. A picture of his family tree hung on his wall. Jack had always thought his picture looked weird. Well, not weird, but it didn’t look like how he saw himself in the mirror. His face was much rounder in the photo, and his hair has grown to be somewhat longer now. It was taken back in early high-school after all. Now Jack is in his senior year of college.
Jack’s gaze shifts to the picture of his younger sister, Madeline, whose picture is attached right next to his own. She looks so much like mom, Jack noticed. Both of them have the same tiny nose, with the same jet black hair.
The father’s side of the McGuire family tree had always been eerie. Every single generation had one major accident; a car accident. Some people have called it a curse. Some people say it’s just coincidence. Jack has never been too superstitious in his life. He didn’t believe in the supernatural. Even from a young age, he didn’t believe in Santa or the tooth fairy. His relatives, who have all lost someone in death every generation, called him insane for ignoring the proof.
He had already sat down and taken out his books when a sudden ringing came from his phone. “Mom” was written in big white letters at the top of the screen. He reached over a stack of books to pick up the phone.
“Jackson! Where are you?” The voice from the phone demanded, sounding very concerned. “Your sister just had an accident.” Her voice quivered as she spoke. Very loud sniffling can be heard from the other side of the line.
“WHAT?” Jack’s eyes widened from the shock of hearing the news. A terrible feeling filled his stomach. “When did this happen? How did this happen!?” He starts pacing around his room, his mind full of dread.
“Maddy was on her way back from school, and-” she cries before getting cut off by the loud sirens that are blaring behind her. “-and a truck driver drove a red light and crashed right into her.” Between the sirens and all the people yelling around her, Jack hears her mother fall on her knees, sobbing. Jack doesn’t know what to say. He is absolutely speechless.
“Ma’am,” a deep voice speaks to Jack’s mother on her side of the line. “Are you Misato McGuire, mother of Madeline McGuire?”
“Yes. Will my daughter be okay?” She begged to know.
“The chances of survival are very low, but we’re doing everything we can. She has a few broken bones and has severe internal bleeding. We need you to come to the hospital with us immediately!”
At that, the phone abruptly hangs up.
This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening!
Jack hurled his phone across the room onto his bed. Clutching his hair in his fists, he continues to pace around the room anxiously before sitting on the cold uncarpeted floor with his hands over his head.
The curse is real. Of course! The truth finally sinks in his heart. Maddy is going to die.
Some time passes and Jack decides to call his mother to know what is happening.
C’mon, please pick up
Jack’s hopes go up when he hears his mother’s cheerful “hello!” through the phone, only to fall into despair when he realizes it is her voice mail recording.
“Mom! I need to know if Maddy is okay!”
Jack slouched in his seat, holding his head up with one arm that is leaning against his knee. He takes several deep breaths, trying to calm himself down, but the anxious voices in his head wouldn’t stop.
This is terrible. There is nothing that can possibly go right from here. Even if she lives, the hospital bills will be too much for mom to pay. She already struggles to earn enough for just the three of us ever since dad died in that accident. But the curse. I can already imagine mom’s devastated face. She lost almost everyone already. Now it’d only be me and her. This is not okay! I need to see Maddy one last time!
Jack picks up the keys to his car and rushes over to the engine repair class’s garage where his car was stored. He quickly backs out of the driveway and rushes over to the main road. His only priority: getting to Maddy as soon as possible. At that moment, she was more important to him than anything else in the world. He didn’t notice the student chasing after him, waving his arms frantically and yelling, “Wait! Stop! We didn’t finish!”
Sirens blare off in the distance. A vast crowd has encircled the wreckage in the middle of the street, everyone chattering to the other bystanders. Dozens of police officers tie police tape to block observers from trespassing. Police cars line up one after the other, and right behind them are several ambulances full of medical personnel, ready to jump out and take care of the victims.
“Check his vital signs!” One paramedic commands to the other as they hoist Jack’s blood ridden body up onto the stretcher. “He’s losing a lot of blood!”
“Sir, his pulse is extremely weak! I can barely feel it. He doesn’t have much time left!”
“We don’t have any time at all. We’ve lost him,” The chief paramedic sighs. He didn’t get there in time. He lifts his walkie-talkie out of his tool belt and speaks into it. “Dr. Madison, sir, we have a DOA.”
In Jack’s pocket, his phone suddenly shines from a notification.
Mom: The doctors said the surgeries were successful. Madeline will live! Hop in the car and come to the hospital. I know you’d want to be there when she wakes up.