The dream always starts the same. Me racing the wind. The horse’s legs like giant pistons thundering into the ground. The world blurring past, a smear of colors. The wind tugging at my hair and clothes. Freedom. The tears, my tears, drying on my cheeks.
He should have asked me. Not her. It’s childish, I know. But I don’t care. He asked her out and not me. I was always there rooting for him at the games. The chirp of the shoes on the hardwood and the staccato thump of the ball. The roar of the crowd when our team scored. After the game, he went to her and not me.
It should have been me, but wasn’t.
The world tilts as the horse screams, its leg wedged between two rocks. I should have seen it, but I was too upset. I should have seen their shared looks, but I was too in love. Pain rips through my back as the world slams into me. My horse tumbles, its leg shattered.
They shoot lamed horses.
It’s a silly thing to think, but it’s my last thought before the world shuts off. The world returns in pain and beeping machines. I try to talk, but a tube is down my throat.
“Ready to go home?” My mom asks pulling me from my dream and into my nightmare.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to sound happy. I’m going home. I should be happy.
The world moves and the wheels of my chair squeak against the tiled floor of the hospital. I clutch the bowl on my lap where a goldfish lazily swims. It’s a gift. It’s supposed to make me feel better. Feel whole. Instead, I feel nothing.
by M. Andrew Patterson