Oh, horse’s head, it’s been a long time, you and I. You weren’t always just a head – you started out as a whole horse. A plastic rocking horse. I can’t remember, but I’ve been told that I used to lean my head against your mane in the middle of the night. I pulled myself out of my crib and rocked till mom found me. “Mush, horse! MUSH!”
As I got older, you moved with me into our new house. You lived in the basement now, but just like me you longed to be together again, rocking near my bedside. It didn’t stop me from visiting you. Many long afternoons were spent rocking to melodies I’d captured earlier that day watching TV. Back and forth and back and forth until dinner time.
One day while I was sitting at the kitchen table, Dad emerged from the basement wearing his tattered tie-dye shirt. He was cleaning the basement. I’m sure you saw him, horse. He would usually just carefully sweep around your hooves – he knew how horses can get when they’re scared.
This time was different, though. He took a break from cleaning to talk to my mom. I heard them say your name. I listened closer. “Move him where?” Mom said. I got up from my chair.
“Mom, what are you talking about?”
They went back downstairs. I followed. They started to pull you around, horse, manhandling you in ways that did not call back to the days of careful attention that new toys get.
“Move him over there.”
Dad shoved you closer to the basement door, banging against the cinderblock wall.
“Do you think they can come for him tomorrow?”
Now my hands started to shake, something that had never happened before. I looked down and then asked, “Mom, where are you taking horse?”
“It’s time to let the horse go, Lora. You don’t play with it anymore.”
She may have been right, but that didn’t stop me from crying.
I went into a plea of “ifs” and “buts” and “remember whens,” but nothing could swaythem.
“You’re older now, Lora. Somebody else can play with him.”
I raced up to my room and buried my face into my pillow. “This can’t be happening!”
“No. I’m not going to allow this,” I said convincingly, to the air.
I ran back down the stairs, but they were no longer in the basement, and horse wasn’t there either. Wait, what’s that sound?
I ran into dad’s workroom and found a massacre. There sat horse, in pieces, on Dad’s table saw. I feel to my knees. Everything went black.
I awoke later on my bed, and near my feet, it just can’t be…..
“Dad saved his head for you.” Mom said, stroking my forehead.
Dad had placed the horse’s head on the rail of me bed. He fits there perfectly, actually. Later that evening I straddled the bed rail, pretending I could ride him again. But instead of rocking back and forth, it was please, horse, mush. Please mush again.