Not yet appearing
Number 279 introduces a piece of writing that is a sequel to this piece. I note that I wrote each piece for a different writing group, which currently have no overlap in members. In other words the infinitesimal chance that anyone would notice that they correspond to A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races, which are Marx Brothers films and Queen albums was reduced to nothing.
“It’s so early,” yawned Jenny as they walked down the damp path. “I didn’t even know there were times before seven o’clock.”
“It has to be now or we’d miss them,” said Ella. “Mind the step!”
The two girls came to the end of the path and headed across the field. Mist surrounded them, but they found their way to the wooden fence and leaned over it, looking out over the road. Water droplets sat on the leaves of the bushes to either side. They waited.
“I forgot my gloves,” said Jenny, looking down at her hands which had gone white. She put them in her pockets. “This is boring.”
“They’re coming,” replied Ella.
Soft, muffled noises could be heard from down the road. Indistinct shapes could just be seen through the swirling greyness. A huge beast loomed out from the fog. The long nose, swinging higher than either girl’s head, lead the way. Suddenly the lane was filled with horses.
The first rider spotted them watching and touched his helmet in greeting. They giggled and waved in return. The enormous animals walked by, some alert, watching every movement, others plodding with their heads hanging down. They were close enough to see the way the muscles rippled with every step. Even at a walk, the strength and power seemed to rise off them.
They kept coming in pairs and on their own, a long chain of them. With the leaders disappearing into the mist again, the column seemed endless.
“This is amazing,” said Jenny, cold hands forgotten as she grasped the fence.
“Yeah, the stables are down the lane and they go out to exercise on the downs every morning. This is why coming to stay with Aunt Rose is the best. I want to have riding lessons there, but apparently it’s a racing stable so you can’t ride those horses. You have to go on the fat ponies at Marigold Farm.”
Jenny looked down. “I wish I could have riding lessons.”
“Why can’t you Jen?”
“Mum can’t afford it, and my sister only earns peanuts from working in the theatre. Also, Mum says she wastes her money on booze and nights out.”
Ella turned to look, gossip momentarily more interesting than horses. “Does she?”
“Nah, she doesn’t waste it, mostly she buys clothes. Oh, there they go.”
The horses were disappearing into the fog again. The fluorescent vest of the last rider vanished leaving only a faint noise of hooves striking the road.
“Hey look – one of them did a poo!”
Laughing at the steaming pile in the road, they turned and ran back to the house. In the kitchen they found Aunt Rose in her green dressing gown, hunched over a cup of tea.
“Where have you two been so early?”
“We went to see the horses going out to the downs. It was really great Mrs Redding.”
Rose laughed. “Mrs Redding is my mother-in-law. Call me Rose.”
Jenny flushed. “Yes Mrs... I mean Rose.”
Rose looked at the two of them, noting the dampness on their jackets and the grass stains on their jeans. “Ella, they take the horses up in two batches. You could have had two more hours in bed and seen the second lot. Or an hour and a half and seen them come back.”
Ella glanced at Jenny who seemed distinctly unimpressed by this news. “Sorry. Couldn’t sleep. Excited.”
“Hmph. I thought you’d grown out of that. Never mind, get your coats and muddy shoes off and I’ll make you some breakfast.”