Dark Horse

They say he means death.

That seeing him ends your life. Or means that you’re going to die very, very soon. If you can hear his gallop, or can see his silhouette, it’s best if you get your affairs in order.

That’s what I’ve heard.

The tales they’ve always told about the black horse. The one that vanishes before dawn. He has no rider, and they say its because he’s only an omen. Only a warning.

He comes back later, they say.

Rider on his back.

And, guess who they say his rider is.

Guess who they say he belongs to.

It’s dark out.

Prancing hour.

All hours of the night are.

At least, for the horse I speak of.

I can hear his hoofbeats in my mind. Pounding against the beating of my own heart. Thumping dully against my chest. Reminding me that I am more than myself. That there’s more out there than darkness. Than night.

I hear his hoofbeats in my soul.

Breaking against the dirt.

Kicking up the earth.

I can’t help myself.

I go outside.

Again.

From our screened-in porch, I take my place.

I watch the horse.

His eyes glow yellow. Low moons burning gold, reflecting an unseen light. Mane flailing with his wild movements. Tossed in his cantering, in his revelrous wake. Back and forth, he paces. Never saying a word. The only sound that drifts through the air is his panting. His hoofbeats. The sound of earth bending beneath his path.

He’s strong, that horse.

Sturdy.

The way his muscles bunch is mesmerizing. Like watching an avalanche, or an earthquake. Muscles that could be devastating, moving beneath fur and skin fluidly as it drags along a heavy set of bones.

He’s a big horse.

Massive.

And yet, he’s still fast.

Still swift.

Graceful as he parades across the back lawn.

As he leaps the fence, bringing his legs up easily over the barrier. Disappearing into the woods.

Only to return a moment later.

Clearly, this lawn is his goal. His target.

There’s something here.

Something he wants.

He’s come for something.

And, with the hoofbeats echoing through my mind—playing endlessly against the vast night—I can’t help but think that it’s me.

It’s me he wants.

Death, they say, is his rider.

That he comes to declare his master’s next mark.

But…

I don’t think that’s true.

He prances around, tossing his mane, and I can’t help but feel like his purpose is nobler than that. Kinder than that. That there’s more to this horse than the legend implies.

There’s more than this horse out there, in the dark.

Hoofbeats call to me.

Yellow eyes beckon.

I feel the night open, welcoming me as the horse finally settles.

As he stops.

Stares.

Nostrils flaring, tail flicking behind him.

He stops and stares.

Gaze leveling me. Telling me what I already know.

The night calls to me.

Has been for a while now.

And, with a strange serenity, I finally unlatch the back door. Leave behind those silly legends, that strange creeping fear. I go forth. Step off my porch. Approach the large horse with my hand out, certainty cementing my reach.

With warm fur beneath my fingers, I finally give in.

I answer his call.

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