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    Original Essays | August 24, 2015

    Ellen Urbani: IMG Like Every Other Survivor



    Note: Join us at Powell's City of Books on Saturday, August 29, for an author event with Ellen Urbani. I have an uncommon penchant for aligning... Continue »
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Dream of Night

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andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;Twoandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;SHILOHandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Day breaks and Shiloh pulls the scuffed black canvas suitcase out from under the bed. Everything she owns in the world fits inside. She doesnand#8217;t even bother folding the T-shirts and jeans and shorts. Theyand#8217;re all hand-me-downs or Salvation Army castoffs anyway. Who cares if they are wrinkled?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A faint knock comes halfway through the packing. Shiloh ignores it. She ignores the muffled, fluttery voice, too. The door isnand#8217;t locked but she knows the old woman is too timid to open it.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;When sheand#8217;s done, Shiloh leaves the case where it is on the floor and folds herself into the closet to wait.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Small places are the safest. Easily forgotten.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;There, on a low shelf near her head, she sees an old ballpoint pen.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Clickandlt;/iandgt;, and itand#8217;s open.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She tests the ink on her palm. And then slowly, carefully, she writes all the bad words she knows on the pure white walls of the closet for the old couple to find later, after sheand#8217;s gone.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The doorbell rings.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Clickandlt;/iandgt;, the pen is closed. She tucks it into her jeans pocket.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The muffled sound of voices, low and secretive. She knows what the voices are saying even though she canand#8217;t actually make out the words.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;We tried.andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Too angry.andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Too much trouble.andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Weand#8217;re sorry. So very sorry.andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh hates the word and#8220;sorry.and#8221; One of the things sheand#8217;s learned in her twelve years is that people who say theyand#8217;re sorry never really mean it.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Shiloh?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The state lady. Just outside the door. Her voice cheerful and bright.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;What a fake.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh yanks the door open. She ignores the fake smile as she walks by. She ignores the old couple sitting on the couch on her way through the TV room.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Good-bye, Shiloh,and#8221; the old woman calls in her high, fluttery voice. and#8220;Good-bye. I hopeand#8230;and#8221; The voice trailing off, as usual. and#8220;Well, I just hopeand#8230;and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh doesnand#8217;t wait for her to finish the sentence. She doesnand#8217;t say anything back as she walks out the door. It doesnand#8217;t matter. Sheand#8217;ll never see the old woman again.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;JESSALYNNandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Before the pickup even rolls to a stop, Jess is out of the passenger side and making her way toward the paddock. Rain pelts her hard but it doesnand#8217;t matter. Sheand#8217;s used to being out in all kinds of weather. Rain doesnand#8217;t hurt unless it has some ice to it.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A great mass, dark and muddy, is wedged against the white plank fence. As Jess comes near, the mass breaks apart, screaming and snorting, becoming not just one body but many.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Becoming horses.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Skin and bone. Every one. Barely strong enough to stand, by the look of them.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Still they wrestle with all their pitiful might. Jerking their hooves up from the dark, sucking mud. Stumbling and shrieking, eyes rolling back inside their heads.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess takes a slow breath, gazes down at her muddy boots. The anger rises up fast. The taste of bile sharp at the back of her throat.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Itand#8217;s the same every time. With this kind of rescue. It never gets any easier.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Horses shouldnand#8217;t look this way. Skeletons with a bit of skin attached.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Horses shouldnand#8217;t act this way, either. So fearful of human touch they would break off their own legs just to get as far away as possible.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;and#8220;Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you.and#8221;andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The singing is a reflex. Automatic.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;and#8220;Away, you rolling river.and#8221;andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Soft and low. Not really meant for human ears.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;and#8220;Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you.and#8221;andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A song her father used to sing when she was a girl. Many years ago.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;and#8220;Away, weand#8217;re bound away, and#8217;cross the wide Missoura.and#8221;andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Most times the sound is soothing, a comfort. But not today. These horses are way too spooked.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Screaming and snorting, nostrils flared, the pack manages to pull itself up and away. As far as it can go. Until the thick mud cements hooves in place once more.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Hey, Jess, this way!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A voice, calling through the rain and terrible racket.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Theyand#8217;re ready for us.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The voice of and#8220;emergency.and#8221; At four thirty in the morning.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;With Nita, and#8220;emergencyand#8221; always means horses.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Foster or for keeps?and#8221; Jess hears Nita asking as she comes out of the drizzle into the dry barn.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Dunno. Courtand#8217;ll decide in a month or so.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess can hear the exhaustion in Tomand#8217;s voice. She can see the dark circles under his eyes when she comes up beside Nita. Tomand#8217;s in charge of this rescue. Heand#8217;s probably been up all night.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Canand#8217;t keep and#8217;em here that long,and#8221; he continues, waving a clipboard in the air. and#8220;Weand#8217;re splitting at the seams. And there ainand#8217;t enough to keep and#8217;em all fed as it is.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Nita nods. She knows all this. So does Jess. Itand#8217;s the same story, time and again.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A bunch of sickly horses finally get rescued after being mistreated and starved, and the pain and suffering isnand#8217;t over yet. Not by a long shot. Because thereand#8217;s never enough feed at the Humane Society, never enough hay. Never enough hands to help and never enough homes for the horses to go to.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I and#8217;preciate you gals coming out like this. On such short notice,and#8221; Tom says. and#8220;And in such great weather, too.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;At least weand#8217;re not the only ones today.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Nita nods toward the trucks and trailers already lining from the barn to the end of the driveway.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Yeah, we managed to get it in the papers and on the radio first thing. Word of mouth spreads pretty quick.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Especially with Nita around,and#8221; Jess says under her breath. and#8220;How many calls did you make this morning, anyway?and#8221; She grins over at her friend.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Nita gives a shrug. and#8220;I lost track at twenty-five.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Nita Horne!and#8221; Tom cries. and#8220;I donand#8217;t know twenty-five people I could call at this hour of a morning!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I donand#8217;t either.and#8221; Nita winks. and#8220;I just opened up the phone book.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Tom lets out a big laugh. and#8220;All right, then, ladies.and#8221; He taps a thick finger against the clipboard. and#8220;First one up is number ten. And sheand#8217;s got a foal.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Two for one.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You got it.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Nita turns to Jess, zipping up the hood on her rain slicker.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You ready?and#8221; she asks.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;As ready as it gets nowadays,and#8221; Jess replies.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The women enter the paddock. Wading through mud, circling, arms fanned out. Trying to get a look at the numbers on the brass tags attached to halters, separate one horse from another, load each one up into a waiting trailer.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;All this without stirring up a ripple of panic. Because a ripple builds into a tidal wave. Just like that.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Whoa! Whoa! Watch it!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Too late, the black mass senses danger and seizes back. Then forward, surging, a dark sea. Churning and dangerous. Barely missing Jess and another volunteer.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Youand#8217;re slowing down, old lady,and#8221; Nita calls over the roar.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Thatand#8217;s what I wouldand#8217;ve told you this morning,and#8221; Jess mumbles, and#8220;andlt;iandgt;ifandlt;/iandgt; youand#8217;d stayed on the line long enough.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The terrified herd settles into a far corner, and the volunteers try it again.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And again.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The rain doesnand#8217;t stop, and the mud gets thicker. A stew of woman and man and beast. Something out of a movie. A scene in old black and white runs through Jessand#8217;s head. A man alongside a muddy riverbank, wrestling alligators.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Because thatand#8217;s what this is like. Sorting through this lot is like wrestling alligators. Jess loses all sense of time. And place. Maybe she has been here forever, dodging hooves and teeth. Maybe she has died and gone below, to the place her granny always warned her about.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;After a while, though, the sorting starts to inch its way toward easy. Easier. The mares start to give up. Worn out, pure and simple. Broke.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Only the foals stay fierce. Wild. Determined to remain free, untouched.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Itand#8217;s the same every time. With this kind of rescue. The foals are in better shape than the mares. Because they can still nurse even while their mamas are starving.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And even though she knows one of the feisty, long-legged little foals could kick her in the head if sheand#8217;s not careful, Jess is glad. Just watching the foals makes her heart glad. Because it shows how life goes on. Even in the mud and misery. Life continues.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Another hour slips by, two. Jess ignores the familiar nagging in her lower back, the stiffness in her joints. The only thing that finally stops her is the time.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Sorry, but I gotta go,and#8221; she calls to Nita, tapping a finger on her mud-splattered watch. and#8220;Got somebody coming at three.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Which one you taking?and#8221; Nita calls back.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;The palomino.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;No foal and sweet as pie. Worn out from all the youthful shenanigans. The old gal will fit in fine with Jessand#8217;s other horses.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Okay, go get the truck,and#8221; Nita says. and#8220;Iand#8217;ll round her up. Keyand#8217;s under the flap.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess nods and heads out of the barn. The rain has let up, but the clouds to the east are still dark, threatening.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A jolt of sound, sudden and close. Like thunder, but not. At least not the kind that comes from the sky.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Itand#8217;s hooves slamming against metal, a new horse trailer pulling up. The kicking going on inside so full of force, Jess half expects to see hoofprints stamping through the walls.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Whoo-wee, glad we made it!and#8221; The driver is jumping down from the cab of the truck. and#8220;Not sure the trailer was going to hold.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Why didnand#8217;t you tranq and#8217;im?and#8221; Tom has come out of the barn with his clipboard. He doesnand#8217;t look happy.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;We did!and#8221; the driver yells over the noise. and#8220;Heand#8217;s got enough Ace in his veins to drop an elephant.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Lord have mercy,and#8221; Tom says softly. He stands, watching the horse trailer shimmy and shake. and#8220;Well, whatand#8217;re we going to do with him now? Where we going to put and#8217;im?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You tell me,and#8221; the driver says, holding his empty palms up.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess checks her watch again. Sheand#8217;s going to be late, even if loading up the palomino is smooth and easy.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But she canand#8217;t resist a closer look.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And what she sees through the metal slats makes her stomach churn all over again. Because what she sees is a shell of a horse, a skeleton, barely alive, but kicking to beat the band. Kicking to show his stuff, to show what he once was.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A Thoroughbred. Jess can see it, despite the thinness and the filthy, rotting coat. A racehorse, most likely. A king, once upon a time.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Nothing but bones now. A bag of bones and skin covered in mud.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And scars. Thick scars winding their way around his neck like a noose. Thinner scars flicked along his sides.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The whip, of course. But chains, too. Jess has seen it before. Willful horses chained to a barn wall to make them mind.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Listen at that.and#8221; Tom has come up behind her. She knows heand#8217;s not talking about the kicking. Heand#8217;s got his head cocked, listening to something behind that. and#8220;Pneumonia for sure. Who knows what else. Canand#8217;t let him get near the other horses. Even if he andlt;iandgt;wasandlt;/iandgt; calm as milk.and#8221; Tom tugs at his cap, lets out a sigh. and#8220;Truth is, I donand#8217;t know what to do with him. Probably best to put and#8217;im out of his misery.and#8221; He turns away. and#8220;Shoulda done it back there before bringing him all this way, stressing him out even more.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Now you tell me,and#8221; the driver says.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;There was a time Jess would have protested. Loudly. She would have let Tom have it. Told him how wrong he was. And she would have taken this horse home just to prove her point.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But that was before her back went out the first time, before she woke up with pain and stiffness most mornings.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Before she got old.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Now sheand#8217;s not so sure Tom is wrong.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Out of his misery. Probably the best thing. A horse this bad off, this far gone.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;This angry. Jess is about to turn away, nothing she can do, when it happens.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The horse stops. Kicking at his cage. Just stops. And reaches his neck around. Turns his head. To look at Jess.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Is it the singing?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She hadnand#8217;t even realized. Because itand#8217;s a reflex, automatic.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Is it the melody?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A song about a river, not a girl. Her father had to explain that to her long ago. Shenandoah is a river, not a girl like Jess imagined. Not a song about love but about longing.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Is it the voice?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Doubtful. Jess knows she doesnand#8217;t have her fatherand#8217;s baritone, which was like an oak tree, deep-rooted, strong.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Whatever it is, the horse is looking at Jess.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And Jess is looking back.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And what she sees she canand#8217;t explain. Not in words, anyway. What she sees is what this horse once was.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A champion. A king.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The song ends. The moment is gone.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The kicking starts up again. Harder now. Harder even than before.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Whatand#8217;s his name?and#8221; Jess asks, turning to Tom.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Well, heand#8217;s registered. A money winner, in his day.and#8221; Tom flips through the list. and#8220;Letand#8217;s seeand#8230; Here we go.and#8221; He squints up at the trailer. and#8220;Nice name. Dream of Night.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Well, heand#8217;s nobodyand#8217;s dream now!and#8221; The driver spits out a wad of tobacco with the words. and#8220;More like a nightmare.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;ll take him,and#8221; Jess says, her words getting lost in the noise so that she has to say it again. and#8220;Iand#8217;ll take him.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Tom pushes his cap back, looks at her. and#8220;I dunno, Jess. Even if he does make it through the night, heand#8217;s a wild one all right.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;ll take him.and#8221; Jess says.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;No offense, maand#8217;am, but youand#8217;re crazy!and#8221; the driver blurts.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Nothing I havenand#8217;t heard before.and#8221; Jess winks at Tom, and he lets out another of his big laughs.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;What about this sweet gal?and#8221; Nita asks when Jess comes into the barn to sign the paperwork. She has the palomino ready to go. and#8220;Sheand#8217;s just a doll.and#8221; Rubbing her cheek along the mareand#8217;s muddy neck.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Canand#8217;t take both. Iand#8217;ve got to go now, and the otherand#8217;s already loaded up.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;As if thatand#8217;s the reason. The black horse is already loaded up.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Thought you werenand#8217;t taking the hard cases anymore,and#8221; Nita says, some slyness slipping into her voice. and#8220;Thought you were too old.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I am,and#8221; Jess answers, checking her watch, letting the second thoughts worm their way in.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;What in the world is she doing, anyhow? Taking on a sickly ex-racehorse at this point in her life, at this moment? Sheand#8217;s too old, too rickety to handle some crazed-out-of-his-mind Thoroughbred stallion. Sheand#8217;ll have her hands full as it is. With the kid coming, this very afternoon and#8212; Jess glances down at her watch and#8212; this very minute, in fact.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And not just any kid.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Tough as nails,and#8221; the social worker said over the phone. and#8220;Angry at the world.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess studies her muddy boots. The irony does not escape her. An angry kid and an angry horse. Both the same day.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Where to, maand#8217;am?and#8221; The driver has come to find her. Heand#8217;s waiting.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Nita is waiting too.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;My farmand#8217;s about thirty miles from here,and#8221; Jess hears herself say.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Bang-bang! Bang-bang!andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Well, letand#8217;s just hope we make it!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;NIGHTandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Nobodyand#8217;s dream now. More like a nightmare.andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Because he understands. As all horses do. Human talk.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Although what he knows goes beyond words. What he knows is sound. Timbre. Pitch. Meaning within a sound.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Anger. Arrogance. Fear.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;What he knows is smell. The scent every living thing gives off, whether they mean to or not. And the tension, trapped inside the body, betraying the truth behind the words.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;What he knows is touch.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The tug of the bit inside the mouth; the jerk of the reins; the sting of the whip.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Touch.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A slap. A punch. A kick.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;What Night knows is that touch is something to be avoided at all costs.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;Twoandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;SHILOHandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;m not doing this for you.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;There. Itand#8217;s out in the open. Shiloh waits for the womanand#8217;s face to get angry. But of course it doesnand#8217;t. The woman only nods.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh looks away. She just doesnand#8217;t get it. She can never make the woman mad. And this makes andlt;iandgt;herandlt;/iandgt; mad, makes her want to kick or punch something.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She could kick the stupid dog that follows the woman everywhere. But the dog always keeps its distance. Like now. It gives her a sideways glance and then speeds up, disappearing into the shadows of the barn.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Itand#8217;s creepy in here.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shilohand#8217;s voice echoes a little. Something flutters overhead. A bird. A dumb bird is caught in the rafters of the barn. Shiloh watches the bird. She feels trapped too. She wouldnand#8217;t be in here at all if it werenand#8217;t for Night.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;ve spent a lot of time in here,and#8221; the womanand#8217;s voice comes from around a corner. and#8220;I feel at home in a barn.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;That figures,and#8221; Shiloh mumbles.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Itand#8217;s always cooler in a barn, in summertime.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh doesnand#8217;t answer. The air does feel pretty good in here, but itand#8217;s creepy just the same.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Two cats slink out from behind a board. One is gray and one is a bunch of different colors. They dart toward Shiloh and swirl like water around her ankles.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh nudges one with her toe. Sheand#8217;s not afraid of cats. They donand#8217;t have big teeth. You could kick a cat across the room if you needed to, if it tried to scratch.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;There was a woman in our building. She had too many cats. You could smell them all up and down the hallway. We called her the crazy cat lady.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh stops herself. She doesnand#8217;t know why sheand#8217;s telling Mrs. Lima Bean anything about her life. Maybe one day sheand#8217;ll be telling somebody that she lived with a crazy horse lady.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;The cats keep the horses company,and#8221; Mrs. Lima Bean says, her voice a little breathless from tugging a bale of hay from a tall stack. and#8220;Horses like to have friends around when theyand#8217;re in the stalls.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I bet they try to squash the cats flat, just for fun.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The cats have followed close at her heels. Shiloh bends down and pokes at the gray one with her finger. The cat pushes back, trying to get Shiloh to pet him. Now the other one wants to be petted too.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Youand#8217;d be surprised,and#8221; the woman says. and#8220;Horses tend to know how strong they are, how big. Theyand#8217;re pretty gentle around small creatures. They like cats. Iand#8217;ve found the gray one and#8212; Jasper and#8212; lying right across Mercer Rexand#8217;s back, taking a snooze.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I bet Night would squash them flat.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Another cat, all white with blue eyes and a gray tail, darts out from behind the hay. Shiloh stands up. She doesnand#8217;t have to pet the stupid cats if she doesnand#8217;t want to.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;What I do is break the bale into two parts,and#8221; Mrs. Lima Bean is saying. and#8220;Like this.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh watches as the woman takes a knife out from her back pocket and snips the twine thatand#8217;s holding the hay together.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;You carry a knife?and#8221; Shiloh asks, and then bites her lip. She doesnand#8217;t want the woman to think that anything she does is cool or interesting in any way.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;It was my fatherand#8217;s,and#8221; the woman says. She flips the blade back in place and holds it out. and#8220;You can look at it, if you like. If you keep it closed.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh doesnand#8217;t want to be treated like a baby, told what to do. But she goes forward anyway, and takes the knife and holds it in her hand.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The knife is brown and silver, solid, with a horse engraved on one side and hutch engraved on the other. Shiloh thinks about clicking open the blade just to prove to the woman that she can do what she wants.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Lincoln Andrew Hutchison,and#8221; the woman says. and#8220;That was my fatherand#8217;s name. But people called him Hutch.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;So?andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Thatand#8217;s what Shiloh wants to say, but she doesnand#8217;t. and#8220;My dad was in the army,and#8221; she says instead. and#8220;My real dad. Not my momand#8217;s boyfriend. My real dad was brave, and he probably had a lot of knives. And guns, too. He left before I was born. He didnand#8217;t like being pinned down.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;m sorry, Shiloh.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I donand#8217;t care!and#8221; Shiloh doesnand#8217;t want the womanand#8217;s pity. and#8220;I didnand#8217;t know him.and#8221; She could put the knife into her pocket, if she wanted, just to see what the woman would do, but she goes ahead and hands it back.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;ve been giving Night half a bale in the morning, and half in the evening and#8212;and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;m probably not going to do this every day,and#8221; Shiloh interrupts.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Thatand#8217;s okay. I know Night appreciates it.and#8221; The woman grins sideways at her. and#8220;He doesnand#8217;t scream at you so much.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;He doesnand#8217;t scream at me at all!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Mrs. Lima Bean keeps grinning, like a dummy.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;There are a couple of wheelbarrows over there,and#8221; she says, nodding toward the corner. and#8220;You can use one to carry the hay out to the field.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh takes a look. One of the wheelbarrows has brown stuff in it. and#8220;Is that what I think it is?and#8221; She scrunches up her face. and#8220;Gross.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The woman laughs. and#8220;I was just about to take that load out to the compost. You can use the other wheelbarrow for the hay.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;That stuff stinks.and#8221; Putting a hand over her nose.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;ve never minded the smell too much,and#8221; Mrs. Lima Bean says. and#8220;In fact, I think it smells kind of good.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh stares at her. She andlt;iandgt;isandlt;/iandgt; crazy.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Thatand#8217;s just plain gross.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Horses are herbivores.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh rolls her eyes. She hates when Mrs. Lima Bean acts like sheand#8217;s so smart.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Herbivores only eat grass and grains. So thatand#8217;s what their manure smells like.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;I donand#8217;t want to know what their poop smells like!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Mrs. Lima Bean laughs again, and Shiloh wants to kick her. She could just leave if she wanted to and forget about the stupid hay.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Iand#8217;ll take this on out,and#8221; the woman says, heading for the wheelbarrow. and#8220;You can get the hay for Night if you want.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh hesitates. But then she stalks over and grabs hold of the handle. The wheelbarrow is heavier than it looks. It takes a couple of tries before she can roll it straight over to the stacks of hay.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Donand#8217;t get used to this,and#8221; Shiloh calls after the woman. and#8220;Just because Iand#8217;m getting the hay doesnand#8217;t mean Iand#8217;m going to start helping you with the gross stuff.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But Mrs. Lima Bean has already disappeared out of the mouth of the barn.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Shiloh clicks her tongue. Sheand#8217;ll have to tell her later. Sheand#8217;ll have to make sure she understands.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Itand#8217;s a one time thing. Maybe two. At the most. Sheand#8217;ll give the black horse some hay today. But whoand#8217;s to say sheand#8217;ll do it again tomorrow? Maybe sheand#8217;ll be gone by then.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;Twoandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;JESSALYNNandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The sun is shining bright and cheerful through the window when the woman opens her eyes. She can feel it instantly. The stiffness is gone. The rain has cleared.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Lazybones,and#8221; she mutters to herself when she sees the clock. and#8220;Why didnand#8217;t you wake me up, huh?and#8221; She gives Bella a gentle nudge.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Downstairs, Jess rinses out the coffeepot. No dirty cereal bowl in the sink. No sign of Shiloh out the window.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess listens for sounds overhead. Nothing. And so while the coffee is perking, she heads back up the stairs. She stands at the closed door to Shilohand#8217;s bedroom, taps softly, and then harder.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;No response, and so she eases the door open just a crack.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The girl is lying with the quilt pulled all the way up despite the sunny warmth of the room. Only the pale strands of her hair are showing.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Shiloh?and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The girl doesnand#8217;t move, doesnand#8217;t respond.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Did she have a nightmare? One that Jess didnand#8217;t hear? Was she frightened and awake in the middle of the night?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess takes a step into the room. The girl shifts under the quilt, but doesnand#8217;t wake.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Strange how they both slept late today. But then again, maybe they both needed it. So many restless nights.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Jess turns and pulls the door closed behind her. Back downstairs she drinks her cup of black coffee and heads out toward the barn. She can hear the horses calling to her, asking whatand#8217;s taken her so long.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;SHILOHandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She listens to the womanand#8217;s footsteps, later than usual, heading down to the kitchen. And then coming back up again. She pulls the covers over her head when she hears the knock, the woman calling her name. She acts like sheand#8217;s sleeping when the woman opens the door.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;After the woman is gone, Shiloh sits up. And then sheand#8217;s watching the same old thing. The woman walking outside with the dog, disappearing into the barn.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She was starting to like it. The same thing every morning. A routine.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But now just watching the woman and the dog makes her mad.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;How can somebody do the same thing day after day? Over and over again?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Itand#8217;s good sheand#8217;s leaving. She wonand#8217;t miss anything about this place.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Except.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She looks past the barn, toward the far field. The black horse is just now leaving his corner, walking to the gate, slow and careful like the woman.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;When he gets to the gate, he lifts his head and sniffs at the air. He turns toward the house, ears all the way up, listening.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Is he waiting for her?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;No, thatand#8217;s stupid. Heand#8217;s just a horse. Heand#8217;s hungry, thatand#8217;s all. He wants his bucket of food. It doesnand#8217;t matter who brings it to him.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8220;Not today, buddy.and#8221; Shiloh makes her voice hard. and#8220;Not from me.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;She turns away from the window. She ignores the feeling in her chest. She doesnand#8217;t even know what it means.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8226; and#8226; and#8226;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;bandgt;andlt;iandgt;NIGHTandlt;/iandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The sun rises, and the child is not there, and it doesnand#8217;t matter.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;He tells himself.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;It does not. Matter.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;When the woman finally walks over with the bucket of warm mash, he rushes at her. He wonand#8217;t let her hook the feed over the gate. He kicks at the metal. He screams. He snaps his teeth at her.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;And then he goes back to his corner.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;He will not turn. Even if he hears the childand#8217;s footsteps on the gravel.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;He will not turn. And he will not let her touch him again.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#169; 2010 Heather Henson

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416948995
Author:
Henson, Heather
Publisher:
Atheneum Books
Subject:
Animals - Horses
Subject:
Emotional problems
Subject:
Kentucky
Subject:
Family - Orphans & Foster Homes
Subject:
Emotional problems of teenagers
Subject:
Children s Animals-Animal Stories-Horses
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20100531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 3 up to 7
Language:
English
Illustrations:
f-c jacket (digital)
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 10.955 oz
Age Level:
08-12

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Related Subjects

Children's » Animals » Animal Stories » General
Children's » Animals » Horses
Children's » General

Dream of Night Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.99 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Atheneum Books - English 9781416948995 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Alternating among the points of view of a damaged racehorse, an abused child, and the remarkable woman who brings them together, Henson (Here's How I See It--Here's How It Is) creates an affecting story about emotional recovery. Foster parent and animal rescuer Jess DiLima receives two new wards on the same day: Dream of Night, a 'shell of a horse' she saves on a Humane Society run, and Shiloh, a 12-year-old charge of the state. Both are full of anger and resentment when they arrive at Jess's rundown farm ('And Shiloh knows. The black horse hates the woman. Hates her, pure and simple. And somehow this makes it better'). But over time, touched by Jess's unwavering gentleness and patience, they begin to trust again. Besides highlighting the connections between Night and Shiloh, Henson also sheds light on Jess's painful history, sensitively conveying why she needs the horse and child as much as they need her. The book's climax--in which Night's previous owner attempts to steal him away-- reveals the strength of bonds that have formed among the characters. Ages 8 — 12. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , An abused horse. A damaged girl. A last chance for both...
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