The Mare

The Mare

A Story by A R Lowe

A man and his mare say goodbye to Andalusia...




The Mare



   The mare was dying and this walk to the river might kill it, but the thought of it eating green grass one last time made up the young man's mind. The sun was already rising above the low hills and the cool air would soon be hot enough to bring out that dry earth smell. He led the beast out of the crumbling stable and into the lane.

  “We're going to the river, old mare, we're going to the river,” he murmured close to her ear and she understood the last word. “We're both out of place in this scorching country, mare. Nothing but olive trees and heat.”

  The mare walked doggedly on down the lane and past green stalks she would have gladly grazed had she not known about the river between the beautiful wooded ravine a mile from the village. Beautiful if you ignored the discarded washing machines, fridges and other indestructibles that had been dumped there.

  “Gives a whole new meaning to the term 'Spanish peasant', mare,” he said. They descended the twisting path and reached the long, lush grass by the stream. “I'm going to take this rope from around your neck now. Don't run away.” He laughed sadly and sat down against a pine tree.

   The mare munched as if its life depended on it, which it did, and the man took out his drawing pad. He sketched on until the mare's outline pleased him, but when he had shaded in the ribs she looked sick again. She had taken to lying down for hours at a time and was wasting away. She wouldn't eat hay and the vet wouldn't come. He had said that there was nothing to be done with a horse's stomach and he told the man how to give the antibiotic injections. He wouldn't come because he doubted the man could pay him and he wasn't mistaken.

   The man was also wasting away on that godforsaken smallholding and would have to go back home and get a job. Nobody gave a damn that his produce was 'ecological', and he couldn't sell a thing. What was a little pesticide to people who threw fridges down ravines?

  “At least I'm not dying,” he said quietly.

  The mare had stopped eating and her head hung low. The man felt that he was embarrassing her and walked away upstream. He crouched by the river and skimmed his fingers on the surface. The water looked all right but there were no fish because of the pollution from the two factories in the small town upstream. Such a small town and such a small river.

   When he returned, the mare was lying down so he walked on downstream. He walked quickly for ten minutes and walked back as slowly as he was able. When he arrived, flies were hovering around her eyes and he sat down against the same pine tree. He thought about the dead mare and of the only two things that he now required; a spade and a plane ticket.



© 2013 A R Lowe

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Added on September 3, 2013
Last Updated on September 3, 2013
Tags: flash fiction, short story, Spain


A R Lowe
A R Lowe

Lancashire, United Kingdom

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