Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2108873
A short story about a rocking horse and boy
The rocking horse had been sitting untouched for years discarded as junk in the corner of a basement. The house above was empty like most along the block, the only real occupants consisted of rats, pigeons and the occasional homeless looking for a night out of the weather. The rocking horse sat facing the wall, caked in dust and bird droppings. It had been built to rock, to take little boys and girls on journeys, to fight dragons, compete in races and to chase the sun as it sank behind the mountains. The rocking horse was full of magic but without a rider it was crippled and could go nowhere as the world fell down around it.
Overhead it heard a door creak open, stumbling on the steps leading down caused mice to scatter. There was a faint sound as someone crept down the steps and into the basement, shuffling feet crossed the room. The rocking horse could hear breathing, it echoed ever so slightly off the concrete walls, pigeons chattered in the rafters. Objects were bumped, some toppled over spilling years of rat feces onto the floor. Alas, tiny probing fingers reached the rocking horse. They traced his muzzle, eyes and mane knocking loose cob webs that had entombed his head. The hands were small, carefully they felt along the saddle to the horses tail and down to where his legs merged with the rockers. Inside the rocking horse remembered what it had been like to have a rider, a child to adventure with. The tiny hands found the handles and a second later the feet moved into the footholds. With a heave, a waif of a child pulled himself into the saddle and the rocking horse did what it had been built to do. It rocked.
Slowly they swayed like a mother rocking a newborn. The rocking horse began to allow his magic to work. The basement slowly faded away, sunlight poured in. Trees formed around the pair, a path opened in front of them. The boy whispered ever so quietly "I can see... I can see" and as all young boys are apt to do, he began to rock harder. The rocking horse responded and together they galloped down the path looking for adventure.The boy pulled on the reigns, and they jumped over and around puddles missing some and splashing into others. For what seemed like hours they rode throughout the forest, looking at all the wonders created by the rocking horse. They visited the dragon fields, and rode up the sides of a mountain to where the great fairy king lived. Together they poked an ogre in the nose and rode away laughing, never in any danger of being caught; The rocking horse was the fastest creature in this land, after all it was created by him.
As a pair they rode to a grove and rested. Sunlight shown in from between the trees reflecting off the lake. While drinking water there came a shout from outside the world, "Stupid brat!" and the rider was gone, snatched from the back of the horse, he was left rocking to a stand still in the basement once again. He heard a woman's voice,"What are you doing down here? You'll break your neck on this piece of junk!" she shouted. The rocking horse saw her hand reach out and slap the boy across the face and then the boy was drug away, back up the stairs and the door slammed shut. There in the basement the rocking horse stood, unable to do anything but listen to the shouting and banging from above. The magical forest was gone and darkness filled the basement once again.
Early the following morning the rocking horse heard the door reopen and listened to the slow shuffling steps. He could hear the little boy's hands trace their way down the steps. Slowly, the broken shuffle of the boys steps came closer, ever so slowly. Finally they reached him and the boy took no care in jumping on his back this time. "Show me," the boy whispered, "again." And the rocking horse did, this time they flew above the clouds, looking down on castles and oceans filled with sea monsters swirling in foamy water. They rode through storms and flew up to a palace on top of the clouds where they both enjoyed a meal served by a goose and a giant.
The boy talked to the rocking horse about his blindness in the other land, about his mother and the fathers. He learned how the boy and his mother went from abandoned homes, to gutters and sometimes slept in boxes under bridges. The rocking horse listened to all the boy's troubles. Being made of magic there were ways he could help but the boy would be bound to the rocking horse, never to use his legs again, there is always a price to pay. He told the boy this, it would be a special kind of spell, it would free both of them, one from the the loneliness of a dying world and the other from the abuse of an evil woman. The boy listened carefully and in the end agreed to the arrangement. At the moment the agreement was made, the rocking horse collapsed in on itself, handles sheered off at the sides and the horse crumpled forever into a heap of termite infested wood. The boy lay motionless in the filth of the basement.
Later that morning the authorities were alerted to a break in at an abandoned home. A little boy was found laying dead in the basement surrounded by broken boards and saw dust. The mother was arrested because it was obvious from the cigarette burns and bruises the boy had been abused. She shouted and cursed, scratched and bit, until finally an officer put a bag over her head and forced her into the back of a police car.
In the world created by the rocking horse, the two became one. They were no longer a pair, instead the rocking horse allowed the boy to become his chest arms and eyes. The boy gave to the rocking horse his waist and legs and together they became the first centaur in a world populated by all types of creatures. They ran for the rest of their days throughout the woods and fields, leaving behind the true monsters of the world.