Ghost Story

Posted: February 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

My brother is 14 years older than I am. So I never really got to know him. He seems like a good guy. He’s skinny and strong and motivated, and a lot of things I’m not. When I was about 9 and he was about 23 he got a horse. He always liked stuff like that; horses, and boats and things hard to clean up after. I always resented him for that. I still sort of do. I never wanted anything that could be a hassle. There were a lot of us kids, and I was filled with the pervasive rage that always simmers in youngest children. We catch a bad rap for being spoiled and lazy, and maybe we are, but youngest children spend a lot of time doing the other kids’ chores.

My brother’s horse was a dumb idea. It needed fed even when he couldn’t feed it. My dad was a tired old man, and my mom was busy at work, so I would have to do it. We lived on a ranch of sorts; a semi-retired Country Music Park, a bunch of old buildings and a stage. Everything Country Music has an Old West feel, or it did in 1989. The Hotdog stand had a stables had a boardwalk front. Pete’s horse was down in an old barn where regional wrestling and water balloon tosses occurred. My dad kept a tractor in there, and tables and folding chairs were connected in rows of five. It was winter, and it was really cold. It was the first time I’d seen the whole world in ice, when a fine sheet of frozen falls across everything, encasing telephone wires and doors of old cars. When there’s nowhere in the entire town for a boy to stand without falling.

I had to walk down the barn sploshing a bucket of very hot water. It froze on the ground where it spilled. I had to melt the horse’s water trough, and bring it inside. I had to feed the horse, and make sure the doors were closed. It wasn’t a bad day, but I hated that horse.

I walked into the stables and did my chores. It wasn’t much work, but it’s hard moving around in a snowsuit. Especially one handed down a few times. Especially one that was your sisters’. The kids born in the 70’s must not have had shins, or their torso’s were long like a Dachshund’s. I waddled about with exposed and ankles, and a miserable wet ache in my feet. They felt ready to break. The bucket didn’t work. I’m not sure I was supposed to bring it. I think I misunderstood my father. I was supposed to knock the frozen water loose. Things got done, in a fashion. The horse was in a blanket/coat. I’d never seen one, and I thought it was genius. The horse was jittery and didn’t want inside.

A voice behind me told me it was cold. “I’m just really cold.” it said. “I’m trying to get out of the cold.”

It wasn’t a whisper, but it sounded like a scrape, and it came from right behind me. The horse neighed and ran along the edge of the wall.

I turned around and nobody was there. The horse marched in place in the corner.

I threw hay in the cage you held hay in, and I heard the voice called me “Mister.” I started crying and I peed my pants a little. It was cold before it reached my knee.

“I just wanted out of the cold.” It was angrier, and softer but not further away. It was the saddest thing I’d ever heard. It was helpless and scared and mad I was there. It just wanted out of the cold.

I felt something reach out and grab me. It wasn’t a hand, but it used to be. It was cold like a razor and thin like a wire and it wrapped around my wrist. It couldn’t tug but it cold me, I felt it beg my attention. I turned around and saw a gust of wind. It had specks of light and teeth it, and it came right at me screaming. It whispered through me about how cold it was. It might have been crying too.

I threw the bucket poorly and ran away. The horse chattered and screamed like a lady, it might have been me. The house was only two hundred yards away, but two hundred yards is a long run when you’re in third grade and fat, and longer when it’s uphill, and longer still covered in ice and snow. I crunched and fell up hill for what seemed like forever, I got home crying. I said I thought I heard something, and nobody believed me, I said I didn’t care. Dad started up the car and drove down there. He said there weren’t any foot prints in the snow. He’d have seen them. And no one was in there. I knew that. I knew that when I turned around. The place was dim, but wasn’t dark, and there were so many places hide, but I knew nobody was hiding. That voice wanted me to hear it. It would have let me see it if it could, or if I could.

I wanted it to tell somebody else that it was cold, because I didn’t know how to do it. Plus I already took care of Pete’s horse.

It didn’t tell anybody anything. It wasn’t there.

I probably made the whole thing up. But I remember what that voice said, and how it sounded, and I know it was the first time I felt old.

I didn’t go down to that barn again for 4 years. When dad needed something moved out that was heavy. A guy was turning it into a garage. They’ll knock the building down someday, I hope they burn it. I know that place is cold.

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