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Red Gold

The light blinded me, the red dust kicked up around our feet and choked us. There was the sound of a rifle, a few lone rounds fired into the chaos that was camp. I didn’t know what to do at first, my first thought was outlaws, but I remembered we were in America now, and that wasn’t supposed to happen. A horse screamed its ghostly cry and I heard the pounding of hoofs. Breath bore down the back of my neck and I could tell my own horse had wandered over, terrified of the violence. Horses are good, calm creatures when left to their own devices. I like them, and I didn’t want my horse to get stolen or killed in the crossfire. I grabbed its bridle and started to lead it away, and that’s when I noticed all other sounds had stopped.

“Who the hell are you?” A man on a bay horse asked me.

“A hired hand.” I said, clutching the horse’s reins so hard my knuckles turned white. The man shrugged his shoulders, he glanced to his partner, who was a small man on a large white horse.

“What do you have?” The small man asked me. I turned to look at him, a defiant and angry look in my eyes.

“My wits and my horse.” I told him, then I continued walking. They didn’t follow me. I looked to the west, prairies and plains wide open to God and the sun and whoever else wanted to bask in its beauty. But people hardly stopped to admire the vastness like God’s creatures, the plains were a war zone. Indians against whites, ranchers against farmers, and bandits against everyone else. I must’ve been the only b****** on the western frontier without a gun, I had just come from Dublin. There was no reason for me to own a gun unless I wanted to get involved in something I was better off avoiding. I swung my leg over my horse’s lean side and spurred them into a smooth lope, I loved their gaits. We flew over the flat and dry landscape, the pounding of hooves on the red dust, flattening tall grass. The grass skimmed my horse’s belly, and the toes of my boots. I didn’t even look back to see if they were following, I didn’t care. Two weeks had passed since I arrived in Texas starving and desperate. Two weeks since I joined this god forsaken cattle drive up to Montana where the cattle sold for higher prices. Now everyone was dead except for me, and I wouldn’t get paid. But I had a horse, and I had my wits, what more would I need. My horse’s long legs struck out in the air, red and golden in the evening sun. Her proudly arched neck and her bold dark eyes snapped upwards to the heavens as the sky opened up and the land was drenched in rain. Water pouring on the grass rapidly moved the long stalks, the whole plain was animated in nature’s wake. I watched the horizon, the sun’s long and bright rays coloring the rain. Purples and reds flew past my eyes in a swirl of blinding colors. My horse galloped through the sodden grass. Their hooves thudded on the wet ground, mud flew everywhere. The horse’s caked hooves gleamed in the rain. And we went faster and faster till the horse didn’t feel like running anymore. Who was I to pull this animal away from doing what it loved best? I would never prevent a horse from running, even if it wanted to run right off the side of the earth. Because a horse can always find its way to paradise, and horses were meant to run.




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