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I was helpless back then. Even though I was only thirteen, I still harbored a deep seeded rage at my own weakness. Something I vowed never to be again.
”Thanks girl.” My voice flowed thick and raspy from sleep.
Clover was more than a horse. Like a good friend she woke me from my distress. Sleepless nights were becoming more and more frequent. She served as my protector from a subconscious insistent upon reminding me of a fateful day ten years ago I couldn’t change. For the third time tonight, her soft nose brushed my cheek and softened my stressed muscles.
I moved my head to kiss the gentle creature, showing my appreciation for her concern. Often I wondered how my friend got any rest of her own. She probably loved the few nights a year I sought comfort with my own kind.
As of late, the dreams had become more vivid. Some nights the same nightmare repeated until I abandoned the effort of sleep all together, but as I lay quiet, my body calmed. The cold air surrounded me and the sweat dissipated. With a blind hand, I reached for the warm covers lost during the night and pulled them back up.
I propped my head on the edge of my saddle and stared out to the horizon at the few remaining stars. The solitude of night was short lived when an inkling of light broke through the darkness and began the countdown to sunrise. For a brief speck of time I let myself imagine that Clover and I were the only ones in the world.
Like so many other nights, I found little peace behind closed lids, but I kept trying. Never one to give up, I shut my tired eyes and attempted yet again find any semblance of rest before another long day.
The sun’s early light warmed my exposed skin, gently nudging me like mama’s touch waking me from slumber. For a moment I forgot she was gone. I imagined her sitting on the edge of my bed smiling down at me. ”Sarah, time to get up,” she would say. And so I did.
Stiff limbs greeted me as I slowly rose to my feet and stretched. My mind drifted back to mama and what she’d think of me these days. Her words often hung in the back of my mind, guiding my actions. She only fell silent when I exacted my revenge, though she never scolded me either. Since she never complained, I assumed she didn’t hate me for succumbing to the demon within. Mama never would have guessed her outgoing, peaceful, innocent little girl would sink so low as to take another life, much less find satisfaction in the deed.