It was less than a second, maybe half a second, but it changed everything. I don’t know how to explain it. It happened so fast and at the same time it took forever. It was almost like magic, but not in a good sort of way.
I was reaching for the coffee and there was a noise. Just a small noise, but it was enough to catch my attention so I turned to see what it was, and there it stood. Small and furry, the mouse sat on the shelf staring at me as if it was contemplating the meaning of life. I suppose it was. I had never seen a mouse like this. The white fur was dotted with brown splotches, much like a pinto pony. And the ears were not so much round as they were shaped like a spade. The tail was swishing back and forth along the metal shelf, slowly, almost hypnotizing. Like a cat who was ready to pounce, using its tail as a countdown to the final lunge. But those eyes. There was too much intelligence in those eyes for a small mouse.
Slowly lowering my hand, I kept my eyes on the creature as I stepped away from the shelves. Looking away seemed like not a very good idea. Part of me thought it would disappear in a cloud of smoke, another part of me prayed it would. But it stayed on that shelf, its eyes following me, its tail slowly swishing back and forth.
Then it jumped.
With a little scream, I slammed into the shelves behind me, knocking boxes and cans off that crashed to the floor. Before my unbelieving eyes as the mouse fell it began to grow. Those small little legs stretching to the floor, the little nose elongating, the eyes growing, the ears and tail lengthening. When the hooves hit the tile floor with a clatter, yes hooves, a pinto pony stood before me. My hand to my chest as I gulped in air, desperately trying to calm my pounding heart, I stared into those large brown eyes and saw the same intelligence that the mouse had.
How? Why? What the hell?
The now horse stood proud and strong, its eyes never wavering from me, its ears stock still as its tail swished slowly back and forth as it did before when it was a mouse. Suddenly I realized it wanted something from me. What that was I had no idea. So we stared at each other, neither one moving except for me gasping for air and that damn tail swishing back and forth, back and forth.
Realizing that the thing did not mean me any harm, I slowly relaxed. Gently pushing myself from the shelves, a few more boxes falling behind me the only noise in the building that seemed as loud as boulders crashing down a mountainside, I stood on my own two feet. Unsure I would not be bitten; I reached out to the nose of the horse and placed my hand before the nose, a gesture of peace. Snorting, it nuzzled my hand. I grew bolder, running my hand up its nose to its ears. When it turned its head, pushing my hand, I smiled and obliged by scratching behind the ears.
“What do you want from me,” I mused.
Nickering, it shook its head and looked at its back.
“You want me to ride you?”
The vigorous nodding told me yes.
“I see,” I replied none too sure.
When it stomped its foot and snorted, I decided it was not going to take no for an answer. Looking down one side of the isle then the other, I realized that we were alone. That was strange since the parking lot of the store was completely full when I arrived. The pony snorted again.
“Impatient, aren’t we.”
Butting me with its head, it snorted again, this time stamping its foot on the tile floor.
“I must be mad,” I muttered shaking my head.
Taking a deep breath, I moved down the horse and took a hold of its main. After a quick thought, I bent down to see which sex the horse was.
“Male, huh. Explains the impatient part.” I could have sworn he rolled his eyes. “I don’t have to go with you, you know,” I snapped.
The look that horse gave me told me that I really had no choice in the matter, and to get on.
“Fine,” I sighed irritably.
With the ease of someone who had lived around horses all her life, I jumped onto his back. Once I was settled I asked, “Now what?”
It was a question that would forever haunt me, because what happened in that next second changed my life forever.
Copyright 2016 Heidi Barnes
This is from a prompt on Kellie Elmore’s website Magic in the Backyard.