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Our Years of Golden Horses by Lynn Mundell


When one of them was 8 and the other 9, they drew horses on the printer paper one of the dads brought home from his office. Green horses, striped, red. The girls sat side by side at a pine desk a mom had painted blue streaked with white, or perhaps vice versa, to look like an antique. One girl had an Encyclopædia Britannica propped open to a horse page and they’d take turns using a big sister’s borrowed fountain pen, with one girl outlining her horses while the other colored hers in. Black, bay, gray, and something called dun. Outside their window, one of the brothers swam laps in the pool and sometimes he was drawn into the pictures, not riding the horses but swimming alongside them with his long red hair. A mother regularly brought them two cans of Mountain Dew and a large paper bag of popcorn they pretended was oats. Everything beyond the business of drawing horses—because that’s what it was, business—was an interruption. That included school, where a boy blew a bubble of Bazooka into one of their ponytails and a mother had to cut it off. The three feet of long brown hair was wrapped in newspaper, as was the other girl’s hair, in solidarity, sans gum and chestnut colored. The girls hid their hair under their pillows until the mothers threw it out. One of them now had a Dorothy Hamill wedge cut, just like the skater’s, and the other a shag, not unlike the carpeting. They kept drawing horses. Clydesdales. Pairs wearing blinders. Ponies. Curlies. The girls had to leave the desk more often now, for long jump practice and math tutoring, at which point a few of the horses were stolen by an older sister who either used them for wrapping paper and or sold the ones with the swimming brother to her classmates. The girls made Horse Wanted posters, jointly drawing their favorite, an Appaloosa, with a description and the family phone numbers for anyone who’d gift them such a horse. The girls stapled them on telephone poles around town. A high number of old women called, each saying she’d lost a horse just like that when she was 11. Soon after the girls stopped drawing. Their last pictures were of unicorns. All of the drawings were stacked in the desk’s bottom drawer, long forgotten by the time the girls left for college and the desk was sold to a mother at a yard sale. Her daughter decorated her room with the horses and with a friend began to draw in earnest. Silver horses, flowered, miniature. Sketched onto door hangers, with careful cursive saying “Do Not Disturb.”


 

Lynn Mundell is editor of Centaur and co-founder of 100 Word Story. Her chapbook Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us was published by Yemassee in 2022. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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