Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CANDY (04/28/16)
- TITLE: My Pony
By M. C. Syben
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“I was born knowing my parents were the best in the world. We lived on the finest farm in the world, with an aged, but sturdy, two-story barn filled with the smell of horses and cows, my favorite animals in the world.
When I was five years old, Daddy, surprised me with a pony Christmas morning. “Mommy and I have a present for you.”
“Where is it?”
“In the barn. Hurry, up. Snow suit. Boots on.”
My excitement got the best of me when I put the wrong boot on the wrong foot. Finally, I grabbed a peppermint candy cane from the Christmas tree and shoved it in my pocket before I made it to the door. I held my parents’ hands as we trudged through knee-deep snow.
I heard an unfamiliar neigh as Daddy unlatched the barn door. I ran toward the whinny. A pony nervously pranced in place—the color of cocoa with a bushy blonde mane and matching tail.
“Hello,” I whispered through the stall slats.
“Hello. I’m your new pony.” My dad answered in pony voice.
“Daddy, really? Is he mine?”
“Yes, sweetheart, but he’s young yet. He’s just been gelded and newly saddle broke. We’ll have to continue to gentle him every day. He’s a bit of a rascal. So, no riding him alone for a while. If you follow that rule, he’s yours.”
“I will, Daddy. I promise I will.” My heart overflowed.
From that moment on, I was determined to show how gentle I could make my new pony. However, my mischievous joker nibbled into my pocket, found my candy cane, and chewed it up lickety-split.
“Hey, that was my peppermint, you sneak.” I knew instantly. “Mommy, Daddy, I’m going to call him Candy.”
Candy grew up with me. He followed me to the bus stop every day and earned a peppermint before I left for school. He earned another one when the transport dropped me off. I took good care of that boy brushing his teeth every night with peppermint toothpaste.
Since we lived in the country, I rode Candy to Sunday school. Sometimes he made his way into church looking for me. One Sunday, the kids tried to see what other sweets Candy liked. He spat out butterscotch, M&M’s, and Sweet and Sours. But he sure loved Spearmint gum. He puckered out his lips, and then smiled like an orangutan before he proceeded to chew. He endeared the whole Sunday school class.
Even though Candy grew to fourteen hands, a tall pony, I outgrew him by the time I was sixteen. My knees hung far below his withers. Still, I couldn’t bear to sell him. Candy was family; we couldn’t be parted. I refused to go to college anywhere, but in county. When I graduated with a nursing degree, Candy accompanied me down the aisle to receive my diploma. He was a part of me.
As I brushed his mane, Candy would grow sleepy listening to my nursing adventures at the local hospital. I had noticed the grey hairs over the years, and his nuzzles lingered longer. He’d been walking slower and preferred his stall more, but I couldn’t bear to see the future.
A frigid Sunday morning stung my face, like minute bits, of ice when I delivered Candy’s mini-mints. As the barn door creaked opened, Candy didn’t greet me. I hurried to his stall and found him lying on his side.
“Candy? Candy, wake up.”
I hesitated. Was he really gone? I crawled in next to him cradling his head in my lap. He was so cold. He ceased breathing long ago. I reached for his blanket and placed it over his round belly as I stroked his head.
“I love you Candy. Oh, God, how I love you.”
“Jessica, you in here? Time for church.”
Yes, Daddy,” I sobbed.
“Oh, no. Jess, I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll pray here. I want time, alone, with Candy.”
“Alright, Jess. We’ll bury him proper when we get home.”
Dad back-hoed a special resting spot I picked out and gently tractor-pulled Candy there—wrapped in his favorite blanket. Suddenly, car after car arrived. The word of Candy’s passing spread at church and beyond. Everyone paid their respect, dropped a peppermint in his grave, and gave me a hug.
My tears of sadness turned to tears of appreciation because Candy had lived on the best farm in the world, in the best town in the world. My love for him would continue.
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