Friday, 15 January 2010

#Fridayflash - Peggy

Her mother always said she was a dreamer. Embarrassing…like an adult who believed in Santa. Well, who’s laughing now? Olivia smirked, as she climbed over the farm gate in the pre-dawn twilight. She dragged the saddle off the gate’s crossbar behind her, and began striding across the field to the stable-block. Sometimes dreams come true… Impossible is always possible, with patience…and faith.

Olivia didn’t pretend for a minute that her dream had been easy to achieve. Of course, it hadn’t. It had taken her a long time to find Peggy…but she’d always said, some day, she would own her own trusty steed. Her mother had laughed at her, doubtful that she’d find what she sought…and it was true - Peggy was rare. But Olivia had been determined.

As she turned through the stable-block door and swung the heavy, leather saddle off her forearm over the gate of Peggy’s box, the mighty creature shifted, turning towards the noise. Her huge brown eyes met Olivia’s blue ones, and the young woman smiled at her new best friend. The equine gently snorted its approval of her presence, and nuzzled her pocket in search of a mint. Olivia obliged, digging into her gillet for the sugary treat and rubbing Peggy’s velvet muzzle whilst she chewed.

Taking the bridle from her shoulder and laying it across the saddle’s seat, Olivia retrieved a grooming brush and pulling-comb from a hook on the stable-block wall. She let herself into the box beside Peggy, and as she worked the brush over the creature’s grey coat and combed out her glistening, cream-coloured mane, the sun rose over the trees outside.

Olivia broke sweat in the morning heat, removing Peggy’s latest patches of baked mud from her shoulders and hocks, and flicking the discs of packed earth from her hooves. Peggy liked to roll in the dust after a ride, and though Olivia knew her hard work would be cancelled out on their return, she wouldn’t have had it any other way. She’d longed for Peggy; searched for her…and she couldn’t possibly complain.

After a good forty minutes of grooming, Olivia finally held up the bridle and presented the bit to Peggy’s mouth. It was a soft bit; a straight, nylon snaffle, designed for a responsive steed. The equine took it on the first present and stood calmly, as Olivia fitted the saddle she’d had custom made, ensuring the girth was securely buckled.

Letting herself out of Peggy’s box a moment, Olivia hung the grooming implements back on the stable-block wall.

“You look beautiful, Peggy,” she smiled, donning her riding helmet as she admired her handy work in cleaning and buffing both creature and tack. Peggy whinnied softly in response, as though agreeing that, as always, she did indeed look wonderful. “There’s just one thing…”

Olivia took down a jar of hoof oil containing a large brush, and a torn piece of suede leather, from a shelf above the grooming brushes. Slipping back into Peggy’s box, she bent down to the creature’s feet and painted each hoof with the oil, making them glisten with impossible colours, like petrol on a wet road. Then she stood, wiping her hands on the leather rag.

“There,” she said, approaching Peggy’s great head and meeting one glassy brown eye. “Almost done.” Reaching up, she brushed the animal’s curled forelock aside and polished the twisted, golden horn that protruded from her skull, inducing a magnificent shine.

Olivia placed her tools back on their shelf, and led Peggy from her box, past the other animals stabled in their block. As they reached the doorway into the morning sun, she jammed her foot in the stirrup, took hold of the pommel, and mounted with a quick bounce.

Feeling her rider aboard, Peggy shifted, restless with anticipation. Olivia didn’t tease her…she pointed the creature’s nose directly towards open fields and gave the signal for ‘gallop’. As the wind rushed at her and the speed increased to an impossible flash, she knew for certain, she had been right to search for Peggy…right to know she existed.

Her mother’s words resounded in Olivia’s mind – “Most girls are happy with a pony! Why must you fool yourself with this fantasy? …this silly legend?”

Because I knew different, she thought, digging her heels into Peggy’s flanks and feeling the creature obediently spread two, white wings around the custom-made saddle. I knew there was one that could fly….

Woman and beast rose then, into the crimson sky…and it was anyone’s guess where their morning ride would take them.

For Lydia, who inspired this tale, by being everything 'Peggy' is not!


  1. hmm lovely tale.

  2. I enjoyed this story very much! I was lulled to a dreamy state as Draco said, while reading about the work needed to get Peggy ready. Learned a lot, too.

    Description was very good. " petrol on a wet road" made me see and know exactly what it looked like.

    And to have such a magical creature!


    Lydia is beautiful. :)

  3. Indeed she is - wouldn't change her for the world...except maybe the wings, & the responsive attitude!

    Thank you for the comments. I really didn't think this was a great story when I wrote it. But maybe, with editing, it could be better? If you have suggestions for improvements, or you liked it just the way it is, please let me know. :)

  4. Love the horse's name
    And love the real Peggy too, she's gorgeous :-)

  5. I really liked this. I think there's something magical about the relationship between horse and rider anyway, and this was an extension of that. Makes me miss riding! Good work!

  6. The pictures at the end made me laugh.

    You write beautifully. This sentence especially will stay with me: "making them glisten with impossible colours, like petrol on a wet road."

    Petrol does glimmer with impossible colours, but I never thought about it that way before. I always will now.

  7. Improvements? Hmm... Could be shorter. The middle seems to have extra info. Maybe could take the dreamy quality a step higher subtly hinting at the end.
    -David G Shrock

  8. Yeah, I almost ended it with the golden horn, and just let the surprise be that Peggy is a unicorn...then the 5yr old girl in me wanted to give her wings too! Part-unicorn/part Pegasus! Maybe I sacrificed the story for an unattainable fantasy?

  9. Lovely, just lovely. It gave me an insight into a world I have no connection to, for which I am also grateful.

  10. Glad to see that others were "lulled" into a dreamy state as well. I was incredibly stressed out and as I read I felt my blood pressure drop and started breathing more deeply. Perfect state to receive the magic later. " petrol on a wet road" also stood out to me as being fantastic description. Like the "believe in your dreams" theme. We all need stories to remind us to do so. :)

  11. Beautifully told story. I suspected early on that Peggy was a unicorn. Really loved the ending when the animal takes off and like the way you handled the mention of flying.

  12. A wonderfully written story and I loved the surprise of the wings.

  13. That was wonderful! I was so content to watch as she loved her "horse." And, so surprised with the wings.

    Such a beautiful story!

  14. I enjoyed the lull of describing how you would groom any horse before the reveal of the horn. It probably would be stronger to end it with the reveal. I understand the temptation to give her wings too though. :)

  15. I read it (hoof oil sounds exotic!). I shivered at the last three beautiful paragraphs. I read it again. I shivered again. This is lovely! Your horse is magnificent, too.

  16. This is a lovely bit of magical realism and I enjoyed it as is. But, if you wanted to try to publish this, I would recommend rewriting it in the first person. The story really takes place inside Olivia's head and first person would allow us to feel the excitement with her as she prepares for the ride of her life. Maybe even adding some memories of backstory - how she lured Peggy. Just my opinion. Lydia is beautiful!

  17. Lulling and mesmerizing -- wonderful story. The last 3 or 4 paragraphs simply super... Peace, Linda

  18. Thank you so much for all your lovely constructive advice! I'm so glad everyone enjoyed this & I really think I might revise it using your suggestions.

    Lydia will also be thrilled so many of you admired her (if she can get her head out of the feed bucket long enough to care!) :) She has been my frequent riding companion for the last 13 yrs, & even with her passive attitude, I would that she was mine... Alas, Lydia actually belongs to a friend, but like Olivia, some day, I shall own my own trusty steed... :D

  19. The scenery was really lush in this one. I could almost smell the stables.

    Great piece!

  20. Just goes to show - it pays to be a dreamer! Love the story, the bit of fantasy in an already beautiful piece makes it even better.

  21. I loved this Amy. I believe I was a bit more surprised by the reveal than everyone else - I truly was expecting the worst, as if maybe the horse would turn into some sort of dragon and eat her, but no, that would've been Laura's story. :) Lovely surprise, and so glad it was!

  22. I finally stumbled upon this one, lured by the fact that you named the creature my name. Often, co-workers have nicknamed me and I've been called "pegasus".

    Having said that, I was pulled into the story and was beside Olivia in the stable, grooming the creature. I was thrilled that Peggy proved to be more than a unicorn--actually, i was disappointed with unicorn and the name; glad when the wings were revealed.

    Great imagination.