“Goddammit Jasper,” I spit, but it don’t matter…

Type: Free write | Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Date: April 13, 2022 | Author: Lala Jackson

“Goddammit Jasper,” I spit, but it don’t matter. The horse can’t understand me anymore I can understand it, which is why I now find myself on the ground again, him having just thrown me off his back for the fourth time in as many hours.

The ground’s soft, Wilie having just tilled the soil this morning knowing we’d be out here all day. But anyone’s tailbone‘ll get a little bit tired from slammin’ into the earth a few times over. I let myself take a minute on the ground, leaned back on my hands watching Jasper trot around the ring, throwing his mane this way and that. Almost like he’s proud of himself. 

Seems we go by the same guidebook, him and I. “God did not make me to be rigid and follow rules.” I hear it in meemaw’s voice, but I see it in Jasper’s spirit. I’d be mad too if I knew the way people described taming me was that they needed to break me. 

It’s gonna take a while for him to come near me again; it’s clear he has little interest in having a rider. So I make the ground my home for a few more minutes, digging my hands deep into the soil to where it’s cool and damp. I take a deep breath, inhaling the smell of the earth and my sweat, all mixed together in the breeze comin’ down the valley. 

“I’m no expert, but from the ground seems a mighty hard place to train a horse, May.” I look over my shoulder toward granddaddy’s voice, raising my eyebrow at him before I lower my torso the rest of the way to the ground, letting it join my legs. My tailbone feels a bit better when my body is sprawled out like this anyway, and the clouds are pretty, moving lazily across the summer sky. I shift my hat so it can cover my face the rest of the way, feeling the earth meet my body, the soil cradling every aching muscle. 

“Yallright?” grandaddy says a few seconds later, but there’s no worry in his voice. This is what we do. Been doin’. Grandaddy learned from his Paw who learned from his. Horse-rearin’ is in our blood. Or at least, it lets us stay out here on the land, away from folks who wouldn’t understand our pull to be out here under the big sky. 

That’s where the horses and us are the same, I think. Wild. It’s what makes it hard to see a horse as free as Jasper and want to take that away.