Horses: Everything You Never Wanted to Know
Author: Reb Hay

Chapter 7
They Know too Much About You (And That's Creepy)

I haven’t talked about Lily for so long, you probably thought she was dead or got to go home. Actually if either of those things had happened, I’d so be talking about her. Dead—now that would be quite some story. I bet we’d all get to go home if she was dead.

            No, she is perfectly alive or alive anyway. Breathing. She’s lying on her bed, not saying a word. Foetal position would be an exaggeration but, as I am quite fond of exaggeration, let’s go with it. So, here’s this kid lying on her bed, curled in a ball, ‘in foetal position’, not speaking, not moving. And here’s me, standing in the middle of the room. Hunting through the chaos of my internal strategies-for-awkward-moments file, I come up with a blank. 

I resort to flopping on my bed, face down. Unfortunately the bed is not big on bounce and I may now have broken my nose. I murmur a short stream of expletives suitable to the occasion and roll on to my back. Dementing oldies surely would have been way easier.

            ‘How was your day?’ I say. I let the words go out into the ether, not really expecting a response. It was an experiment similar to prayer. I don’t know if you’re hearing me, I don’t even know if you exist but heyI’m in deep shit here… or in Lily’s case I don’t even really know if you are in that shell of a body but hey, the silence is killing me.

            Unlike God, Lily actually answers. ‘Yeah, okay,’ she says. 

Though I guess, to be fair, having never heard God’s voice before, maybe it was God. I sit up in sudden interest. ‘Lily?’

‘What?’

I see the lips move and am faintly disappointed. ‘Nothing.’ I flop back down again, careful of the nose this time. 

Silence. Silence. Silence.

I’m cool.

I’m just worried about Lily. 

Lily’s obviously struggling. It’s cruel taking a phone from kids like her. I know what they do. You see it everywhere. No sooner do they graduate from bunny rug then they’re hooked on phones. They plug themselves in and get those thumbs flicking. It does two things: it tells the world to go to hell and it transports them to some completely different zone where everyone’s a superhero.

Obviously, I’m not like that.

I’m very well adjusted.

I sit up again. ‘Hurry up in there, will you,’ I yell vaguely in the direction of the closed bathroom door. ‘Stop hogging all the hot water.’ My voice fades away into nothingness.

            Silence. Silence. Silence.

            Poor Lily.

            ‘It’s only for a few days,’ I say. ‘Then you can get your phone back. Go home.’ I nearly add: ‘Shut yourself in your room’ but that’s probably why she’s here. Mum panicking because her kid never leaves her room. I reckon my Mum would love it if I never left my room.

            With the help of peripheral vision, I’m thinking poor old Lil has relaxed a fraction. ‘Have you done much riding?’ I ask.

            ‘A bit.’ 

I detect a shrug. 

‘You’re really good.’

‘Thanks.’

I consciously make the decision to offer Lily a rare gift. ‘I was terrified,’ I say and then wait to see if she’ll slaughter me. She doesn’t look like the type but I know from experience you have to be wary of the quiet ones. You can think they are your friend right up until the moment the knife goes in

‘Yeah, I know you were scared,’ Lily says.

This is not quite the comeback I was expecting. ‘How do you know?’ I ask curious. I thought I had covered myself quite well.

‘Because you were riding Ben.’ Lily props herself up on an elbow and actually looks at me. ‘Jenny always puts the nervous ones on Ben.’

If you are wondering who Jenny is, that’s Instructor Woman’s name. ‘Why on The Sh—’ I correct myself. ‘Why on Ben?’

‘Because he is calm. He won’t react no matter how nervous you are. I used to ride him but now I’ve graduated to Mason.’ There’s a faint smile in the dim light. ‘I can’t be anxious around him. I have to learn to calm myself before I even walk in the paddock or he won’t let me catch him.’

Learning calm. I consider this bit of information from both sides. Calm is something people can learn? And horses know when you’ve mastered the art? That’s just weird.

‘How long did you ride Ben for before you graduated?’ 

‘Months.’

‘And how often does Mason refuse to let you catch him?’

Lily actually laughs. ‘Very often. But it is becoming less.’

The door to the bathroom slides open and Charlotte wheels herself out. 

‘You go next,’ Lily says. ‘Jenny also gets the newbies to start by shoveling shit.’

 

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