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Three Minute Horse Fiction

Published: 4/5/2010
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National Public Radio has a regular contest called Three Minute Fiction. In this contest, writers are given certain parameters including limiting the story to 600 words. For this specific contest, writers were asked to use the following words: plant, trick, fly, and button. The words could be used as nouns or verbs.
I decided to make my attempt horse-related.

Hope you enjoy it!
It's dedicated to all the ponies in my life.

By Maddy B. Gray

“Button,” said the old man. “As in ‘Cute as a Button.’” He twirled a toothpick between his lips and kicked at a weed in his dirt driveway.
The visitor admired the pony as she moved lightly around the paddock.

Button seemed to match the feed store ad all right: “Retired circus pony ready for a new life… Grey in color, but not in spirit…Free to a good home.”

“I’m not looking for anything fancy, just someone to have fun with,” the visitor shared.

“Oh, I expect she’ll be perfect for you,” said the man, who had his back turned as he had grabbed a halter and headed towards the pony.
They discussed Button’s care and feed. Already smitten, the visitor listened to the man’s instructions as she stroked the pony’s mane and neck.

“She’s an easy keeper,” he said. He looked at the pony with a smile. Did they just exchange glances? Button swished her tail.

“Just give her a handful of grain in the morning and the same at night. Oh, and she’s not too keen on bugs. You’d best have some of this.” He handed the visitor a half-used container of fly spray. “Go ahead. Sure, I won’t be needing it.”

The man helped load the pony into the shiny horse trailer and shook hands earnestly with Button’s new owner.
At the woman’s request, he even took pictures with her little digital camera: the woman, with a big smile, her eyes fixed on her new charge. The pony, poking her head out of the trailer’s little window. The woman offered her a handful of grass. Button chewed it and licked her lips. He snapped the picture.

The image showed Button sticking out her tongue.
“Hold on.” The man smirked. “That one won’t do. We’ll take another.”

The next day came and it was time for their first ride. The attentive rider brushed Button’s dappled coat and lovingly combed her mane and tail. She fitted the saddle and tightened the girth. She slipped on the bridle, adjusted and readjusted the leather straps.
Button stood serenely as the woman mounted up.
The rider rode cautiously at first, like a newly licensed driver with a new car, making sure everything was in good working order, making sure they had a good understanding between them.

They moved through the woods as the birds chirped and flitted from tree to tree. Button was lively but obedient. What a lucky find, exclaimed the woman to herself!

From the woods to the clearing, the pair crossed the countryside. The rider relaxed, let slack the reigns and daydreamed of the summer ahead, of blissful, harmonious rides. Maybe they could ride clear to the shore and go swimming together!

The pony felt the ease of her rider’s legs across her back. She noticed the rider’s slow breathing and loose hands.

All of a sudden, the pony flicked her tail and kicked out at a passing plant. Like all the other plants along this stretch, it was ripe with buds and insects.

The bugs rose in protest. The pony jumped sideways. The rider plopped to the ground.

 “Trick,” thought the pony as she licked her lips and snatched a mouthful of grass. ”As in Trick Pony.”

View Reader Comments:

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4/6/2010 Arlene Walker
Great story I wanted to read more.
4/6/2010 K.C. Putnam
Excellent! After reading this, I'll be carefully watching the mouse on my desk, and wondering if they ever worked together! Thanks Maddy. Cheers! -KC
4/6/2010 Louise
I like it! And oh so true!
4/6/2010 susan
that's great! made me smile!
4/6/2010 wolfmare
lol. I've known a few "trick ponies" in my day! No literary criticisms....just was a cute story.
4/13/2010 Sharon Laine
This is a great story! Wonderful imagination!
5/1/2010 Rick Diefeno
What a cool, cool story. Loved it!

"Practice sharpens, but overschooling blunts the edge. If your horse isn't doing right, the first place to look is yourself" - Joe Heim