Author’s Note: This was my first competition piece, written on a whim in two weeks back in junior high (Spring of 1996, I was thirteen). It is unchanged and unedited since that time to give you an idea of where I “started”, as it were.
= = =
A Horse Named Black Thunder
By Melissa Snyder
“Easy, girl, easy!” A middle-aged man spoke in a soothing voice to a restless female horse that was about to give birth. He patted her neck, which was damp with perspiration; the trembling mare snorted as he tried to calm her.
“Dad, what’s going on?!” A young girl, about the age of 14, ran out into the barn. She had creamy skin, sparkling blue eyes and long, wavy, blonde hair. She quickly ran down the winding hall of stables. When the girl reached the mare’s stall, she was panting breathlessly. “Has she…?” Her voice was expectant as she tip-toed to see over the stall door.
“It’s a colt,” her father answered happily as the mare sat up, “And a handsome fellow, too.”
The girl looked over the stall door at the little bundle of fur that squirmed and wriggled as the mare tried to lick her foal clean. The man’s name was Robert Connell and the girl was his fifteen-year-old daughter, Allison. Robert, his wife, Sharon, Allison, and Ryan, her seventeen-year-old brother, lived on a huge ranch on the Virginia hills that was called the River Heights Acres. Their prized Arabian mare, Storm Cloud, had just given birth to a single colt, her first. He was as black as night, just like his sire Hercules. Hercules was the strongest, fastest Thoroughbred stallion on the ranch.
Soon, this little addition to the family, now only 45 minutes old, began struggling to get to his feet. After one failed attempt, where he fell, all four gangly legs spread out in a very undignified manner, the colt finally was able to stand up properly, wobbling only a little. Slowly, but steadily, he began to walk. Just tiny steps at first, but then he became more confident. Storm Cloud, now on her feet again, watched her little son, who was soon nudging her side with his muzzle. One could imagine the look on her face to be one of absolute pride.
“You have a right to be proud of him, girl,” Robert said to Storm. He’d always has the ability to interpret her looks. “He’s a persistent one.”
“Yeah. He is a fast little nipper, isn’t he?” Stan, one of the ranch hands commented.
Soon the young colt was nursing hungrily, his mother giving his back a last-minute washing.
“What are you going to name him, sweetheart?” Robert asked Allison casually as they leaned against the warm stall.
“You mean, he’s mine?” she said to her father in disbelief.
“Of course he’s yours!” he replied. “I told you that Storm’s first foal, boy or girl, would belong to you.”
“Thank you so much, Dad! You’re the best!” Allison jumped at her father and hugged him tightly, almost knocking him over. She’d never actually had a horse that was hers, all hers, before. Then, she ran back to the stall to watch the little colt. He stopped nursing for a minute and returned her gaze with big, round black eyes, as though he were sizing her up.
Allison smiled back at the young little face. “We’re going to be best friends. Just you wait, little guy. Just you wait.”