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Fiction Sad

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.

April 17, 2021 03:44

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99 comments

Aurora Spencer
14:27 Apr 25, 2021

Happy Birthday! 😄🎉

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Valerie June
19:17 Apr 25, 2021

Aww, thanks so much Aurora!

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Aurora Spencer
16:44 Apr 28, 2021

No problem! I hope you had a great day. P.S. I read your story and left a comment that day (just in case you missed it) :)

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Valerie June
18:20 Apr 28, 2021

I had a great day! Thanks for reminding me; checking it out right now. ;) I read in your bio that you're working on a story. I wish you the best of luck with it!

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Aurora Spencer
15:31 Apr 30, 2021

Awesome! No problem :) Thank you! Also, your bio says you're working on your first novel! That's so cool; all the best on your book! :D

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Valerie June
02:39 May 01, 2021

Aww, thanks! I've been putting aside working on my novel, but you just inspired me to start up again. Sometimes the hardest thing about writing a novel is just sitting down to start writing.

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wow. It took me a while to figure out that this was a horse we were talking about lol. This line kinda helped:"Mother, will the filly be alright?" Thanks for putting that in there. It just made the character seem more mysterious at the beginning/ending. (Noice use of the word sappy lol) I couldn't quite figure out exactly what the 'monster' was, some kind of pain perhaps? Really great story over all! L.W.

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Valerie June
04:53 Apr 17, 2021

I made sure to slide in the line about the filly in there to clear things up. I also added that bit of dialogue to help convey information and give readers a break from the filly's thoughts. I was trying to go for mysterious vibes in this story. Glad to hear that it worked out ok. Sappy for life! You know that I just had to put it in there. Yeah, the 'monster' referenced to the filly's pain but sometimes my messages aren't that clear. In the future, I'll work on improving that. Thank you so much for the feedback Tiffany! Reading your stories...

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Hannah Dominguez
04:20 Apr 17, 2021

My heart feels heavy... the fact that the character wasn't human makes it even more so... It's nice to see a story with the animals taking the spotlight, especially this one, since it involves euthanasia. You gave me a glimpse of what an animal might think and feel when going through it, and it saddens me to think that in reality, we can't really hear them say anything about their pain. Okay, now I'm sad...

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Valerie June
04:43 Apr 17, 2021

I love working with animals' thoughts and emotions. It's something that I've often wondered about. The next best invention: a device that allows you to hear your pets' thoughts (if they have any, but I'm pretty sure they do.) I promise that my next story will be happier!

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Beth Connor
16:22 May 04, 2021

Jose- well done. I love how much your writing keeps growing! Beautiful story.

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Valerie June
16:45 May 04, 2021

Aww, thank you Beth! It's really amazing how much my writing has grown since joining Reedsy.

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Aurora Spencer
12:59 Apr 24, 2021

Jose, this was incredibly moving. It kept me at the edge of my seat and reading until the last line. At first, it was slightly hard to figure out that it was a horse, but the hints you dropped along the way helped tremendously. I really like the fact you chose to narrate euthanisation from a horse's point of view, because we don't get many that way (or at least I haven't read a lot of them) and it helps us see a whole new perspective on how the animal feels. Moving on to the writing style, I absolutely loved your imagery and the similes you'...

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Valerie June
18:24 Apr 28, 2021

Thank you so much for reading Aurora! This one was hard to write because of the euthanasia element. In my mind, I pictured the end result would be a bit stronger, but I think that's just 'writers instinct' about second guessing your writing.

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Aurora Spencer
15:29 Apr 30, 2021

It was my pleasure! I agree with you on that, I've never written sad stories before but they seem really powerful. And euthanasia is definitely hard to write about, because it affects lives. As a matter of fact, your story was really strong. Maybe I didn't convey that in my comment, but yes, it was really really powerful.

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PART 8 OF MY REEDSYCAST IS OUT AND YOU'RE FEATURED! Please read previous parts first!

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Part 6 of The Adapters is out and you're featured! Sorry it took so long but it's finally out!

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Valerie June
16:50 Apr 22, 2021

No problem! I can't wait to read it, I know it's going to be amazing. :D

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K. Antonio
20:29 Apr 18, 2021

Really enjoyed how you weaseled "filly" in there, it shed light in the story. If I was to say anything it would be that I felt, personally, that some sort of * or break would benefit the story. Sometimes breaks allow the reads to stop and reflect between passages and that can be beneficial (but it's just a habit of mine when I'm writing).

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Valerie June
20:58 Apr 18, 2021

I hadn't realized how beneficial the "filly" line was until other writers pointed it out. It's hard to be the reader and the writer so any feedback helps. I often use * as well. In this one I only used it once, but I see what you mean about adding more. I read in your bio that you're on a hiatus. I wish you the best of luck with it.

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K. Antonio
21:00 Apr 18, 2021

Thanks, I'm oozing back into writing/reading more stories and being more participative, but teachers are getting whooped during this pandemic 😂.

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Valerie June
21:02 Apr 18, 2021

As a student, I can only imagine. You teachers rock and deserve so much more recognition!

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Phoenix Langston
04:28 Apr 17, 2021

Aww, that poor filly. She was so brave in the fight against her monster! I felt bad for her, especially during the euthanasia scene. The details were vivid, and the pace was really slow and smooth, as if it was happening in real time. I also love how the end of her life is also the beginning of the story, like the prompt requested. My only critique is that, at the start, you should probably clarify that the main character is a horse, because it isn't immediately clear. Other than that, it was a beautiful story. I see what you mean about the ...

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Valerie June
05:10 Apr 17, 2021

I've never had a horse, but I've been around them almost all my life (so I've suffered many a fierce attack of downing allergy pills.) I'm not sure if you got this part of not but toward the end I was trying to cut down the filly's 5 senses one by one to show how she was slowly losing consciousness. This is actually a true story (in a way.) If you breed two pinto horses with overo patterns and the offspring is born with white fur and blue eyes, it means the foal has OLWS which stands for overo lethal white syndrome. There's no cure for it a...

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Phoenix Langston
22:33 Apr 17, 2021

I did notice that about her senses. Don't worry, I wasn't saying that the pace was a bad thing; I actually liked it. And I never knew about OLWS -- that's so sad for them. But thank you for telling me about it. I'm not sure what the filly's name would be. Maybe something with a small, sad touch of irony, like Valentina (I think that name means "strong" and "healthy," which I'm sure is what the filly wishes she could have been). And de nada for the feedback. 😉

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Valerie June
22:51 Apr 17, 2021

I never knew about OLWS either until I saw it while browsing through a science website. After reading about the condition I thought, "Wow. This would make a pretty good story." This was the first time I left a character "unnamed." It felt strange but, in this case, I figured it worked well. I like that name a lot, and I'm sure Valentina would love it too. 🐎 Do you have any ideas for a story this week? In your bio you said that if you do, it won't match the prompt. You do you and don't let the prompts tell you otherwise! I'm trying to figure ...

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Phoenix Langston
00:17 Apr 18, 2021

It did make for a good story. Sometimes it is good to leave characters' names, etc. to interpretation, because it kind of draws the reader in and makes them think about the story more. I really hope she does love the name. 😁 Yes, there is an idea I'm working on. But apparently it doesn't matter if it matches the prompt or not, because Part 4 got approved even though it didn't match. I don't know what's up with that, but okay. Maybe one of your random ideas will go somewhere and turn out well. I mean, "Truth or Consequences" was totally rando...

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Valerie June
05:26 Apr 18, 2021

Exactly! Something crazy happened today. You know how you christened the filly Valentina? Well, today my mom and I were trying to find a restaurant to get take-out from and the name 'Valentina' popped up. The place was closed for take-out at the time, but I thought that it was so cool. Do you believe in fate? I don't know if I do or not, but I believe that things happen for a reason, even if the reason might not be backed by scientific research. ¡Yay, una idea! I can't believe that part 4 was approved lol. There's been a lot of crazy downvo...

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Valerie June
02:18 Apr 21, 2021

So, how are you doing?

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Phoenix Langston
02:19 Apr 21, 2021

I'm doing pretty well. I really need to get back on Part 5, though, because I haven't been able to write as much as I've wanted. And I've got plans, baby. How about you?

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Valerie June
02:22 Apr 21, 2021

I’ve been finding small intervals of time to work on my own story, and I’m a little less than half way done. Other than that I’m doing fine. These prompts were hard to work with because they were so darn specific!

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Phoenix Langston
02:24 Apr 21, 2021

Oh, I hate that. Like I told She-Wolf, that's why I decided, for the second week in a row, to say "Prompts be darned!" 😆

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Valerie June
02:26 Apr 21, 2021

Yeah, it took me forever to come up with a decent idea. I was thinking about changing my profile pic, but I don’t know to what. Have any ideas? Lol

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