Mama leads Karen on a day of adventure as they tour a series of dismal stables that demonstrate the low regard in which humans hold other animals. But as the sun passes its zenith and the afternoon begins, they drive up out of the valley and find hope.
Scene 16: Visiting Stables
After Karen got into the car and fastened her seatbelt, her mother showed her a map with the locations of all the nearby stables marked in red. A few were crossed off as not worth looking at.
“Krana Layala,” she warned, “this may take some time. I’m sure we’ll find a nice stable for your horse, but we may have to look at a lot of them before we find the right one. We mustn’t let ourselves get discouraged. This is going to be an adventure, a journey. It’s probably not going to be easy. This isn’t the day to turn into Miss Sarah Heartburn. Understand?”
Looking at the map with the red marks for stables and green lines showing routes, Karen saw that Mama was as organized as ever, but she hoped her mother was being pessimistic to avoid building up false hopes. Mama was big on not getting their hopes up. Karen did not want to think about what would happen if they had to go home to Pegasus and tell him that he would be living in the garage, permanently. She knew that Pegasus would adjust, but what about Mama?
Beginning with the stable closest to home, they spent a few minutes at each one. With every stop, Kitten felt more discouraged. She had dreamt of a beautiful country setting for Pegasus—a ranch with green pastures full of fresh plants for him to eat, a blue sky full of clean air for him to breathe, and flowing creeks of sweet water for him to drink. Instead, the stables they visited consisted of fenced dirt lots stinking of manure and urine. Flies crawled over the horses, in spite of the DDT that the ranch hands sprayed everywhere. All day, the horses stood under the brown smog sky in the hot sun. At night, they were crowded into ugly barns for a dinner of dry hay and oats. Anything green had been eaten long ago. Each stable had a riding arena, where the horses’ owners could exercise their animals, but this was to benefit the owners, not the horses. The horses were treated as if they were inanimate and without feelings.
Mama made careful notes of what they learned. Between stops, Karen refined her mental list of questions, and they discussed what they had seen. Karen thought of constructive, concise ways to find out exactly what she needed to know. Unfortunately, she did not have to ask many questions to decide that these stables were completely unsuitable for her precious, spiritual Arabian. Her favorite became, “How often do you brush the flies off the horses?”
Her heart ached for the horses, and she swore to herself that she would never look at Pegasus or any other animal as a piece of property without its own mind and feelings and rights. Her eyes burned from compassion as well as from the smog and the stench. She held back her tears as Mama drove on. When she looked at Mama, she saw that she, too, was holding back tears.
“No Sarah Heartburn,” Karen whispered to herself.
As the sun reached its high point and the morning ended, Mama drove them up into the foothills. At each curve the road narrowed, the trees grew taller and the air sweeter. On one side, a creek accompanied them, and on the other, a majestic oak smiled down from a grassy hill. Karen found herself inhaling deeply and savoring the pure air above the valley smog. Her heart told her that, after hours of searching, they were approaching the place they sought, the perfect home for Pegasus.
“It sure is pretty up here,” she said. “It would be so neat for Pegasus! It’s calm and lovely. It would be perfect for me to exercise my leg, too, on these steep slopes. Look at the watering hole over there. It’s like a beautiful painting.”
“That’s true,” Mama replied. “This is beautiful, but we need to examine the stables and grounds for ourselves, and we need to interview the staff just like we did at the other places.”
Mama was using her calm, rational voice, and she was being strong, too, but their next stop would be the place for Pegasus. Karen’s intuition was clear.
©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.