chapter three

chapter six

chapter twelve

chapter one

chapter seven

chapter thirteen

chapter two

chapter eight

chapter fourteen

chapter three

chapter nine

chapter fifteen

chapter four

chapter ten

chapter sixteen

chapter five

chapter eleven

chapter seventeen

chapter three
pretty big boy

Six miles out of Ashby, Daniel was finding it difficult to get back into his normal routine. He spent most of his time down at the river fishing and talking with his daughter Jenine. He was starting to feel sorry for himself. And though he wasn’t a religious man, he did believe in god. He had just enough belief to have a set of morals and standards. Some principles in which to direct his life. Now at this time he was believing more than ever. From out of nowhere while he stood hip deep in the river, he looked up into sky and yelled out " God , what’s wrong with me that you give me only a taste of a woman, or companion?. Just enough to make my life feel worth living, and then you just take them away. Is this some sort of test? Did I do something that you find need to punish me this way. How many times must someone come into and out of my life. At least grant me the strength to not feel so much. Other men , lesser men have someone in their lives, why can’t I? He thought.

Norny was with him no more than four days, and she was heavily embedded into his heart He remembered how good it felt to have Norny in his arms. Or to feel the warmth of her body press into his. He had so many visions of her from that four days she spent with him, he felt as if he were seeing ghost images. But the most haunting image of all was when Norny smiled her final goodbye from up in the saddle. It felt as though his heart were in a vise. She had scored a direct hit into the soft spot Daniel had in his heart for Norny. Daniel was a strong man in every respect, but the thought of Norny’s warm softness made him feel weak. Eventually Daniel would come to realize that all the wishing and dreaming in the world would never bring Norny back to him. He had to get past her and move on to a new place in his thinking. Sometimes he would wonder where in the world she was and what was she doing right now. But actually Norny was only about two hundred and fifty miles due west of Daniel. I think if he would have known that he might have gone after her.

It was no picnic for Norny either. She had strong feelings for Daniel that she couldn’t understand. The farther away from Daniel she got the stronger her feelings became. She was never really dependent on anyone since she was a child. She was brought up to do things for herself. But when she was in need it felt good to have someone care for her the way Daniel did. She liked the feeling of being pampered, and would like to feel it again someday.

Norny had a lot of road ahead of her, and right now the going was pretty tough. She was traveling over some rocky terrain and Poco was having a hard time with it. Norny would dismount and walk Poco a good part of the distance to make it as easy on him as she could. They would stop after a few miles and rest a while. Getting tired boy? She would say. Then she lovingly put her arms around Poco’s neck and hug and kiss him on the nose. Norny would say " Are you my pretty big boy?" Then Poco’s head would nod up and down and up and down while his right front leg would paw the ground. This is just one of many ways they communicated with each other.

It was starting to get late in the day so Norny found a nice little area to camp for the night. She unsaddle Poco and turned him out. She gathered some twigs and brush to put together a campfire. From were she was camped she had a nice view of the sunset. There were a few provisions left that Daniel packed for her, so she sat her back to a rock and had her diner. While she was enjoying the sunset her thoughts turned to Daniel. What was going on with him right now. Was he thinking of her the way she thought of him. Norny started to remove her vest to get more comfortable for the night, when she noticed the corner of something white sticking out of her vest pocket. She took it out. It appeared to be something solid wrapped in paper. Curiously she opened the paper. All of a sudden her heart rushed to a rapped beat. Its from Daniel. There was a note that read. " Dear Norny" By now your too far away to give these back, for I knew you probably wouldn’t except them from me. But I spoke to Jenine about you, she told me in my dream the last night you spent here to give them to you. She loved these earrings and pleaded for me to buy them for her, and I did. That was just three weeks before she disappeared. She would want only someone that I cared about deeply to have them. She knew that was you. In giving these earrings to you I feel that a part of me is with you. As I told you before you left, I will always be with you no matter what or where. My left hand on your shoulder and my right hand on your heart. Safe journey sweet Norny, Daniel…………..Norny couldn’t believe it. She was just thinking about Daniel and how nice it would be to feel his arms around her one more time. To see him or just speak to him and then here it is. Like a wish come true. He was speaking to her from somewhere else. This made her day complete. It gave her inner strength that was slowly being depleted from the longing she felt for Daniel. This was all new to Norny. She had never known what it was like to want a man in this way. To have feelings that would reach from now into endless tomorrow’s. A feeling that engulfed her heart and clouded her vision and sometimes judgment. It was a weakness she could do without, but could do nothing about. Her heart was in a state of confusion, between her journey and her feelings for Daniel.

Norny reached into her other pocket and took out her primitive little sewing kit. She removed the needle and held the tip against a burning ember. She took the needle and one at a time pierced a small whole through each ear lobe. She inserted the earrings and said " Thank you Daniel"

Norny had other matters besides her heart to deal with. She had to start thinking seriously about Poco. He was all she had, and she loved him to the core. Today when they were crossing the river, Poco faltered and fell. If it had happened on land or the rocks they came across, Poco could have been seriously injured, or Norny or both. The fact that it happened in the water had softened the fall. She thought to herself that the first place that looks like it would support her "Pretty big boy", she would set him free. She thought to herself how will I ever be able to walk away from him. Even if I could, he wouldn’t leave me. If I just go on with him and he breaks a leg, what would I do then. I could never put him out of his misery. Maybe if we just go on we’ll get lucky and nothing will happen. But then his journey would still have to end somewhere. Setting him free is the only thing to do. Tomorrow I’ll start looking for a good place for my Poco.

Norny and Poco got a late start today. She was going to be dealing with something that she would rather close her eyes and forget about. The only bright spot of the day was remembering the earrings Daniel had given her. She could feel them dangling on the side of her head. It somehow made her feel as special as Daniel had made her feel. It was like the affirmation of her beauty, and the token of Daniel’s affections.

Norny and Poco were traveling at a leisurely pace. The area they were traveling through was a little desalinate. There wasn’t much for vegetation. There were no signs of a stream or river. It would be a tough place to survive man or beast. They traveled about four or five hours in this no mans land. Ahead there appeared to be small foothills. They headed in that direction, I guess it was only natural curiosity to want to see what was on the other side. It took them another couple of hours to reach the foothills. As they started to make their ascend, Norny stepped down off of Poco so that he could handle the climb on his own. The top of the hill wasn’t far. When they arrived Norny was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful lush valley on the other side. There was a narrow river and plenty of trees and lots of grass for grazing. The vegetation was wide spread. Norny didn’t have a clue where in the world she was, or where she was heading too.

This could be a good spot to do the deed that needed to be done. As they came down the hill toward the valley floor, Norny looked for signs of other horses. It was hard to tell. They hadn’t seen much sign of other animal life. There were a few birds a fox and some variety of ground hog. I think Poco could be happy here? He would be at peace here.

They got to the valley floor and walked for awhile. Norny thought this is a nice place I would like it here myself. It has everything a horse could want except other horses, but there could be some.

Norny casually walked along thinking about all the good times her and Poco shared with each other over the years. She remembered something about a game they used to play that she had long since forgotten. They used to play a game like hide and seek.. Norny would make Poco stay, then she would run and hide. After she would be well hidden she would whistle for Poco. Poco would come running, but then to where. Norny was nowhere in sight. Poco would wait for a clue, then Norny would whistle again and hide. Poco would run from here to there looking for her, but couldn’t find her. They played this game for months. Then one day, Norny whistled and hid. She waited to see Poco looking for her. But he wasn’t,. she thought what could of happened. Norny came out of her hiding place and looks around. No Poco. She is baffled. What happened to my "Pretty Big Boy?" she though. She looked over that way thinking he must of thought I was out there. But no Poco. She went back the other way, he must of come this way, but no. As she walks back from where she had started Poco steps out from behind a large rock. Norny couldn’t believe it! Her horse had reversed the rolls. This was unbelievable! Poco must be the smartest horse ever. She never played the game again. Poco was too smart to be tricked like that any longer.

They kept on walking. She thought back to the early years when they were both blessed with the ignorance of youth. When they were both young and strong. Poco was a truly magnificent creature, swift and powerful a high spirited animal. The early days when Poco was Norny’s hero, and if Poco could talk he would surely say that Norny was his. They had picked Poco especially for Norny because they were a spirited match. Both wild, free and full of life. There was an immediate bonding between them, that nothing could break. They rode together every day. Poco could charge almost straight up the side of a mountain effortlessly with Norny on his back. Norny would hang on tight and lean forward so the air would flow over her with less resistance. They flew like the wind. Poco at full gallop with his main and tail straight out behind him. His mussels in rhythmic motion, flexing with each powerful stride. Norny leaning forward on his back with her long flowing hair streaming behind her like the wings of mercury. They were an unstoppable force, and a glorious site to behold. The tribe had a saying. " If the wind could be seen with colors and movement of grace, it would look like Norny and Poco.

Now time has made a change as it changes all things. It was at long last getting difficult for Poco to carry Norny. You don’t think about the invincibility of youth ever going away, but it does all too soon. We rarely see it happen, we just wake up one day and its gone.

Norny would have to dismount and walk Poco up hill, she knew that he couldn’t carry her up the mountains like he used to. Norny always thought that her and Poco would be together for life, and they were. Its just she didn’t realize how much shorter a horses life span is then a humans. As much as they loved each other, it would be selfish of her to force Poco to continue the journey with her. This is the day Norny hoped would never come.

Norny unsinched the saddle and relieved the burden from Poco. She couldn’t control the rush of emotion as she removed his bridal. Her eyes welled up with tears and her nose started running. The lump in her throat was so large that she could barely choke out the words " Are you my pretty big boy?" Poco answered with the nodding of the head and the pawing of the ground just like he always had. Norny slowly backed up a ways and stopped. Poco looked at Norny oddly. Suddenly Poco bolted to the left. He started running around her in a wide circle. Around and around as fast as he could. He had never done anything like this before. Over and over, around and around and around. What was he telling her? He knew something was about to happen. For the first time since she was a child tears were streaming down Norny’s face. Poco wasn’t just her horse, he was her perfect match on a spiritual plain. He was her reward for learning to handle, love and care for horses. He was her traveling companion and her best friend. And the only comfort she had on a long and lonely trail. Now she must demonstrate one final courageous act of love for her friend. And it was taking all the strength she could muster up to set Poco free.

Poco wouldn’t stay. Norny would yell to him "Poco stay!" But Poco wouldn’t, Poco’s place had always been with his only pal Norny. Norny knew she had to do the unthinkable. She reached down and picked up a rock and threw it at her best friend. Poco dodged the rock. The poor animal was confused He just looked at Norny. Norny yelled stay! When she started walking away Poco started following about thirty feet behind. She picked up another rock and threw it. This time it hit Poco in the chest and he made a sound and jumped back. The rock was small and it couldn’t have physically hurt him, but it was more than big enough to hurt Norny. She really felt the pain of that stone when it had sharply struck the longest and fondest memories of her life. Poco looked at Norny and his head was lowered. Like he was a bad boy. Then Poco slowly turned away and started walking in the opposite direction. There she had done it. She had severed the bond between them. And in doing so, she had plunged a knife through her own heart. She had ended the deepest love her heart had ever known with rejection. That’s what hurt most of all. Poco must feel that she doesn’t love him any longer. He wasn’t her pretty big boy any more.

Norny picked up the saddle and blanket and headed back up the hill. She was bawling like a baby. She had told herself to do what she had been taught, to never look back, but she couldn’t help it. When she had arrived at the top of the mountain, she turned to look at Poco one more time. But he was know where to be seen. Poco was somewhere grieving in his own way. For a moment Norny thought I could sure use Daniel’s courage right now. She turned and headed back down the other side of the mountain. As she did she was plagued with thoughts and visions of Poco. She was thinking Poco has always been loyal to me. He has always trusted me without hesitation. He would put his life on the line for me. He would have never left me alone for any reason. The only love Poco has ever known of any kind has come from me. He trusted that it would always be there for him and would never go away. I know that he loved me back, and believed that I could never betray that love. The loyalty that Poco has for me could never be compromised. I am the human, the one in control, the one who understands that his loyalty and trust in me would be there forever. I am the only one that can betray that trust, and to him I just did. He can’t understand that I’m doing this out of love for him. That it is for his own good. He only knows that I took my love for him away. How lonely Poco must feel right now. Suddenly Norny stops. She says " I can’t do this." It doesn’t matter how hard the going gets, I can’t let him think I ran out on him and stopped loving him. Norny drops the saddle and blanket. "I just can’t do this." She turns and runs back up the hill as fast as she can crying and sobbing. Her hat flys off. She gets towards the top of the hill and she starts yelling "Poco……Poco,……Please forgive me boy…..Poco. As she runs down the other side she still doesn’t see him. When she gets to the bottom, she stops. She has to get it together to whistle. Norny lets out a big loud whistle. Then a long….PoooooCooooo. From out of nowhere here he comes running like the wind. Like a new puppy waiting for someone’s attention. Poco runs right up to Norny, stopping just in time. Norny still sobbing throws her arms around his neck and saying I’m sorry Poco! I didn’t mean to hurt you. Are you still my pretty big boy? And of course he was. Hers and nobody else’s. We’ll find some other way Poco. If I have to carry you over the hills myself. Then she grabbed onto his main and swung herself up onto his back. I love you boy. Come on Poco, lets go find the railroad tracks. Then she gave him a nudge with her heals and they were off again.


chapter

4

eating crow

(click on Norny's face to see sketch detail)