By Monty Wheeler
Melinda stood outside the barn, just where her daddy said, and waited with one part hope and three parts of pure dread. She hated surprises for too many times her hopes had been shattered and scattered like shiny bright dimes. The worst was when Daddy took Mama to that big, germ free place; she didn’t come back to wipe the tears from a scared little girl’s face; they said she was dead and gone to God’s grace. But she knew better; her mama was there, right with her always to hold her and care.
Her daddy led him out; and right away, she loved him of course. Not just any giant horse; the big dappled gray had some special sway and swagger to his gait. the gleam in his eye gave Melinda to cry; but oh, such happy tears she spilled. Her uncle asked, “how many hands?” All she could muster was clapping with joy; her hands were for petting, not measuring that boy.
She’d never been of lace or yarn, no pearl one, knit two, she’d urge to learn. She loved the farm and barnyard scents at dawn. But how they laughed at her in school; they always said, “Your daddy dresses you funny!” when she wore her little girl Roper boots and Wrangler jeans and snaps on shirts. Some days she cried and others denied her wounded, hurting heart.
Out came the tack; Melinda stepped back and screamed, “No! Don’t want that stuff, Daddy; it hurts him!”
“Without the saddle you can not ride,” her daddy said in voice as soft and gentle as goose down bed.
“And without this bridle, you sure can’t guide.”
“I don’t care, Daddy,” Melinda pouted. “Don’t want that awful shiny thing in his teeth, and don’t want those real tight strap things underneath his big, soft tummy.”
“But, Melinda, you can’t ride—“
“Just watch me, Daddy,” Melinda cried. She led the large steed to the old well, climbed the rock wall, and with handful of golden mane, she went for it all.
The big, gentle breed of remarkable steed—as if he knew the little girl’s need—walked to the fence and set to return to the bucket of corn Melinda’s daddy rattled. But Melinda had none of that corn-spoiled fun. A cowgirl’s instinct tugged at his mane; he turned down the fencerow as if it were plain the big, ol’ horse the little girl wanted the same thing.
“Melinda!” her daddy called and started their way. She set him to trot; it bounced her a lot, but with both hands deep in his natural mane, she stayed on his back, ne’er noticed the pain of bouncing on his hard knobbed spine. At canter he smoothed the rough-on-her ride, and more she urged by rubbing his side. His gallop was smooth as riding on air; Melinda clung tight to his neck and cackled, for freedom was hers, a cowgirl unshackled.
She failed to see, even with her wide-eyed stare the far north fence way out there. But oh, how her horse could set a girl free; ne’er had she run as fast as he. And bigger he grew in her mind’s eye until he loomed large as big ol’ blue sky. And nearer the fence, but still they’d not slow, and nearer the fence at full gallop they’d go.
“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!” She called reindeers’ names but none seemed to fit her horse was a dasher, but that name was not it. She felt her steed tense and finally she sensed the dangerous barbs of the five stranded fence. As he drew his legs under and gathered his force, t’was naught she could do but hold fast to her course. Behind Melinda, she heard Daddy scream, “Hold on to him, Baby!” Daddy’s voice seemed extreme, for ne’er had she felt so lighter than air, as the horse cleared the fence with inches to spare.
As Pegasus rose, they caught an updraft, and far below was her daddy waving arms to his girl. Melinda waved “bye” and called “I love you! I’m going to see Mama! I’ll tell you love her and miss her lots too!”
Pegasus flew into the bright sun. One horse. One cowgirl. One dream of forever and two friends hath begun.