Poor Dee. I go into her room, shake her just so, just so I can wake her up. She has a horse show today, and it’s early. Early for a Sunday morning. I don’t want to wake up Em, or Jim. We all went to bed late last night. I wiggle Dee about, she’s probably dreaming about being on a ride at the carnival, all this shaking, or maybe even being on her horse. I take my hands and cup her chin with one, her cheek with the other. She finally opens her eyes. Dee, I whisper, time to get up for the horse show. Noooo, she says back. Shhhh, I say and leave her to pull herself out of her cocoon.
I like the quiet of a Sunday morning. I have turkey sausage links cooking in a covered frying pan, on low. I have a cup of heated milk and coffee, my morning drink. The only sounds I hear are the quiet sizzle of the sausage on the stove and one of the dogs barking. Dee just now asks me if they called. “They” are our neighbors up the street. They’re the ones who board Dooley, Dee’s horse. She’ll head up there in about fifteen minutes to wash Dooley and get him ready for the show.
I always wished I had a horse as a kid. I wanted rabbits, too. I spent a few summers at Grandma and Grandpa’s. They had everything. Hutches with rabbits, two pigs in a pen. Sheep, cows, chickens. Uncle Pat had race horses he kept in Trinidad, Colorado. Now known as the sex change capital of the world. But then it was just a place over the Raton pass to drive to and watch Uncle Pat’s gorgeous race horses with their spindly legs and long necks.
I couldn’t ride a horse back then. The one time I tried, I slid off its backside. I’d been sitting on the back of my friend Sylvia’s horse. We were in her driveway, talking to her sister who was sitting on the hood of a car. We were just sitting there on Lady. And somehow I slid off, in slow motion. I fell on the hard concrete, looked up at Lady’s mass above me, her hooves like weapons she might use on me, and I bawled. I must have been six or seven, and I went through the rest of my childhood in awe of horses, desirous of a horse, Please just let me have a horse. If I could have one I’d learn to ride it, master it like Sylvia did and never be afraid of them again.
And now the timer on the oven goes off. Dee is leaning against the couch, still sleepy. Dressed in jeans and a pink Western shirt with pearl snaps. Just like they’ve always worn at horse shows.