Runaway

What flashes before my eyes is not the memories of my life, but Eadward Muybridge’s motion picture, the kinetic series of a galloping horse that proved they take all four feet off the ground. The suspension phase seems to be a suspension of time as well until every violent plunge back down to earth. The world is flying past in a mad rush and slow enough to see the ground beneath our feet at the same time. The right rein that I had accidentally let go of whips around like a snake. I am embarrassingly aware that we are trampling over someone’s young maize crop and terrified that the horse will trip in a furrow, throw me off and kill me.
We were on our way back to the hotel and with the tour guide’s permission I wanted to canter a little across a straight flat part of the track, putting the beginner lessons I took in Colorado to good use. My rented Basotho pony apparently thought he hadn’t had enough exercise in a while and took off. Which was fine until I lost my grip on the right rein and couldn’t hold him in – pulling on the left (obviously, in hindsight) only steered him off the path.
My hands have his mane in a death grip but he is going so fast I’m afraid it will not be enough. In my head I hear my trainer’s voice, the stentor of someone used to calling instructions across an arena – “Knees, knees” – and embrace the horse with my legs. Thank you Stefanie. A few seconds later I realise he’s heading up a hill and surely will have to slow down. I take advantage and finally recapture the right rein, just in time to stop him running down the other side of the hill.
I turn him around and, even panting as he is, have to keep holding him in from starting back the way we came. In the distance are the guide and my flatmate’s friend. I try to wave as best as I can and shout “I am fine.” The guide trots up the hill to us quickly. “Are you all right?”
“I am fine,” I repeat.
“I was so scared,” he says. I understand very well. He would probably have gotten into big trouble if anything happened to a guest, regardless of whether it was the guest’s fault for making noob mistakes.
“I’m really sorry,” I say. “It was an accident. He ran and I couldn’t hold him.”
“You are a one hundred percent good rider,” he says. “Were you not scared?”
“A bit scared,” I say. “I am fine now.”
We walk our horses back down to the path where David waits, me leaning back with the reins in an iron grip all the way. Silly animal.
I know why he ran away. For one glorious minute, we were flying over the black and green mountain fields. I didn’t do it on purpose. But I would do it again.

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One Response to Runaway

  1. alissa says:

    Write more often, please! Something about the clarity, elegance, and economy of the prose reminds me of LeGuin. =D

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