The time has come. I know it when the pain loosens. It’s calming. The monster that possessed me day and night is finally leaving me. A thrilling yet peaceful sensation veils itself over me, dampening my rising excitement. It reminds me of the mask they wound around my eyes and mouth, but this sensation’s different than that of the musty cloth. It was a better one. With more hope infused in it.
I’m not scared of the way I’m squeezed into an impenetrable darkness by some unknown and invisible force. Instead, it feels like a mother tenderly swaddling its baby in a warm soft blanket. The sensation being the mother, and I her child.
Time is nonexistent and after maybe a century passed by or even a second ago, the darkness lifts and bright golden light seeps through the blanket that covers me. I shut my eyes and think of all that had passed before this very moment.
I was born white with blue eyes. At least, that’s what my mother told me. I assumed she was telling the truth. When I first came into the world, all I felt was pain in my stomach. I never thought twice about my appearance then. I kicked and bucked like a wild rodeo horse, trying to throw my opponent off my back. My attempts were fruitless.
The monstrosity of pain I felt was so terrible that I thought it was merely a nightmare and nothing more. The pain being the monster, and I acting the miserable part of the innocent and pitied victim.
My mother told me that there was nothing the doctors or I could do to end the monster’s reign of terror. She told me that the monster was real, but that she wanted me to be happy in spite of my pain. I promised her by wordlessly nudging my cheek against her soft one.
Laying on the soft makeshift hospital bed with my mother, I tried to fall asleep but the pain tore at my stomach with unrelenting jabs. I often awoke with my legs splayed out in all directions with my snowy fur drenched in cold sweat. The crisp night air blew my thin mane of porcelain hair all about me like a halo. It was wispy and ghost-like and had an unhealthy look to it.
My mother was always there when I woke up. She acted like she was asleep, but I felt her concerned eyes bore into my back. I was almost certain that she never slept at all that night. I meant too much to her for such a trivial thing as sleep to waste her precious time. After all, by shutting her eyelids for a second might jeopardize my safety. Priorities can change when loved ones are endangered.
I couldn’t sleep a wink that night. The pain made that perfectly clear. Doctors came in and out and all wore pristine white coats. They never knocked before entering. They looked artificial and worked like clockwork. It made me nervous, but I couldn’t say anything because of the monster’s successful conquests.
During my quiet hours of excruciating torture, there was an older woman who sat on a stool looking over me. My mother told me once that the lady was her breeder who cared for her when she was young. That same woman had also introduced her to my father.
I had never met my father. I assumed that he wasn’t important, but I felt a deep longing to see him. That longing ache made the monster’s thrusts appear weaker than before. The pain was replaced with a feeling of hollowness which was much worse.
More people came in and out in a steady train like ants crawling inside their dark claustrophobic tunnels. At one point or another, my mother’s breeder stepped out of my room. It wasn't that much of a big deal for me. I had never known her and did not love her like my mother did.
I tried to doze off again by counting the stars in the sky. There was a small hole in my roof so if I craned my neck at just the right angle, I could see the starry abyss above. Whenever I performed that little trick of mine, I did so very slowly so I wouldn’t alarm my mother of my awakened and sleepless state.
I yawned. I was drained from fighting the monster, but even with my exhaustiveness I still couldn’t sleep. My eyelids drooped dangerously low, and I thought I had just about tamed the beast. I kept silent and still. A single movement or noise might change that.
Abruptly, a voice jolted me out of all possibility of drifting off to dreamland. I sighed and perked up my ears just enough to hear the conversation that startled me. There was nothing else better I could’ve done than eavesdrop. Everything was an inky black so I relied entirely on my sense of hearing.
“She’s gotta go.”
“Are you sure there’s nothing you can do? A cure? Something, anything other than that other alternative?”
The latter voice sounded familiar. As the two female voices spoke in a strained pitch, (I knew they were females because their voices had a musical but strong tone to it) I could feel my mother’s flesh tighten against mine at the sound of the second voice. I tucked my head down into my soft bed and let my ears fall so I still appeared asleep and dead to the world. I missed a lot of the conversation by doing this.
“Ok, I understand.”
Yes, I knew I recognized that voice. It was my mother’s breeder, but I had never heard the other person’s voice before. The same voices became muffled, but I knew they hadn’t moved locations. There wasn’t the familiar crunch of hay beneath their feet to signal their departure.
I assumed that they began to whisper to each other. With my ears laying limp, I could only catch bits and pieces of their conversation. Even still, I couldn’t understand a word.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps approach the two voices outside. I smelt a sharp, almost pine-like and earthy smell that instantly awakened my nose. I knew who this new person was by her scent.
It was the breeders’ daughter who always brought me those delectable fresh and sweet minty treats. That time, however, I didn’t hear the crinkling of plastic along with the young woman’s presence. I could only smell, not taste, my treat. It was more pain to add onto the monster’s torment.
The breeder and the other person’s voices grew louder, welcoming the breeders’ daughter. I didn’t need to prick my ears up any longer. After some formal introductions, I listened to more of their discussion.
“Mother, will the filly be alright? I wanted to give her a peppermint. Those always make her feel better.”
“Not now, sweetie. It’s time for you to get back to bed. It’s past one o’clock in the morning; way past your bedtime. Doctor Kathleen and I have some business to attend to.”
“I’m in college. I’m not your baby girl any more. Tell me. What will you do to her? Please, tell me.”
A long pause and then Doctor Kathleen spoke.
“It’s time.” More silence and then, “We need to euthanize her.”
More words are exchanged between mother, daughter, and doctor and then my favorite of the trio whispered out despondently,
“‘Eu’ means ‘good.’ ‘Thanatos’ means ‘death.’ Euthanasia means ‘good death’ in Greek. Thank you for telling me this, Doctor.” After that I heard her footsteps recede, softly disturbing the hay beneath her feet. I frowned. She’d forgotten to bring my treat.
My disappointment was soon altered to curiosity when a stablehand arrived and cleared out a space in the middle of my bedroom with a pitchfork. He unfolded a white pull-out plastic table that was tucked underneath his muscular arm and left. More people wearing ivory lab coats entered. Most stayed and only a few departed.
I didn’t pretend to be asleep anymore. I looked over my shoulder and straight into my mother’s eyes. They were filled with a mutual look of equal nervousness and concern.
The doors to my room were opened wide by the same stablehand who propped up the table. He always did that in the afternoon when the sun was at its highest peak to let the warm rays seep into my skin. Whenever he did that, it made me feel happy. The only thing that shone through the doors was a huge orb the color of my fur. I wasn’t used to seeing that pale sphere, but I felt more at ease. The room illuminated and basked in the new light, and I was able to see the occupants in my room.
I watched a couple people walk toward me and place medical things of some sorts onto the table. Tubes, plastic containers, pointy needles, towels, and other stuff. The stablehand edged closer to me. In his hand was a musty smelling cloth. He tied it around my eyes and mouth. The reassuring darkness the cloth offered comforted me.
With my sight out of the picture, I used my other senses to discern changes in my environment. The first thing I noticed was that my mother’s warm body had left my side. Before I could reflect on how I felt about the lack of my mother, I heard more feet shuffling in the distance and foreign whispers tickle my ears.
A warm hand gently stroked my velvety back as something pointy jabbed into my flank. I nickered. It took so much of my limited energy to let out that sound. It hurt, but the hand continued its rhythmic petting.
Someone else was speaking in the background in a tranquil tone in a weak attempt to soothe me. Their words had no meaning. It was the consistent hand which stopped me from standing up and rampaging like a wild animal. That and the pain made it impossible for any movement.
I stuck my nose in the air, but the minty scent from the breeders’ daughter was gone. I couldn’t smell the hay. Strange. No odor came from the musty cloth, either. I couldn’t smell anything and, for some reason, my mind became foggy.
The mumbling voices grew distant. My heart beat in a rapid manner but the hand continued to pet my back without variation. The monster that had tormented me for so long was slowly deserting me like it did when the snow melted away to welcome the coming spring. I had never witnessed the season called ‘winter’ but my mother told me stories about it. Just the faintest feeling of pain lingered with a feeble hold.
The pointy object in my flank left and the area was cool again. The chilly night air caressed my skin with care as another serpent jabbed, but I could barely feel it. Everyone's voices became slurred. Another sense became extinct. With hearing out of the question, the only thing I relied upon was that steady stroking that kept perfect time. The touch of pure comfort and love.
Something wet landed just beside the consoling hand. It reminded me of a raindrop. The night before, I’d listened to the pitter patter of the rain hitting the tin of the roof, lulling me to sleep. It was nature’s lullaby. That night, many raindrops fell from the sky. I only felt a single drop of water. The wetness of it caused me to bubble with sappy emotions; sad and happy.
But then that was gone, too. I close my eyes and realize the time has come. I know it when the pain completely disappears. It’s calming. The monster that I put up with for so long is finally leaving me.
A thrilling yet peaceful sensation veils itself over me, dampening my rising excitement. It reminds me of the mask they wound around my eyes and face, but this sensation’s different than that of the musty cloth. It was a better one. With more hope infused in it.
I’m not scared of the way I’m squeezed into an impenetrable darkness by some unknown and invisible force. Instead, it feels like a mother tenderly swaddling its baby in a warm soft blanket.
Time is nonexistent. Suddenly, the darkness lifts and bright golden light seeps through the blanket that covers me. I know without knowing that I am safe from all harm so I open my eyes and smile.