Saddle Up

by Matthew Schmitt

saddlaeShe would not let him see her cry. Not today. Her pain was a bucking bronco, which she knew she had to break. She had been thrown more times than she could admit, but something about the strength of it, the sheer might which rippled its muscles, flowing on into her, made her stand up straighter, taller, stronger. And as she rode the aches, and the throbbing and the pangs, faster and faster she galloped till the tears which had welled up were whisked away by the bellowed breeze. Yet just when she thought she could ride on forever across the grassless prairie of her days, that damnable beast would set its legs, and thrust and turn and kick until she was tossed from its back, sending her writhing, her stomach churning, as bile pushed its way up from her bowels, destined to burst forth.

But she kept on.

  Staggering to her feet, each day she faced it. Trembling still, but less each time, she could feel his hot breath as their distance closed. Its hooves stamped, crushing all life under its tread. She mounted its hard, rough, raw hide, leaning forward and bracing herself against its uncaring force. She learned to anticipate its moves, feeling its terror coursing up her back as it snorted and whinnied. With teeth clenched upon the bit, she swore that this time she would hold on. This time she would be stronger than the pain. This time she would ride that fury faster. Faster than his knuckled fists could fly, and farther than his frayed leather belt could ever reach. This time she would not be broken.

Category: Short Story