December 15, 2022
The truck hit a pothole and the horse bucked, almost throwing him. Chet tightened his grip on the wooden handles jutting from the steed’s head. The beast rocked forward, then back, and Chet slapped a hand to his head before his hat could fly free. The horse rocked back, and Chet felt himself start to slide, threw his weight forward, the horse following in kind. His legs tightened around its body, wooden edges not meant for an adult jutting into his thighs, but Chet held firm, and he whooped once. From the passenger side of the cab, Bobby turned round and gave him a thumb’s up, grinning. Chet grinned back, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled, and the truck hit a turn. The horse slid to the side, then back again. The road flattened momentarily, and Chet watched the trees give way to cornfields, corn to soy and back again. Early autumn, the air just right, flush with the smell of grain ripe for harvest. Chet stared into the sky, a jet blue canvas laced with cotton clouds, a sky he’d been raised under but had not taken the time to appreciate lately, a sky that felt weightless in its infinity. He took a deep breath, and saw a house approaching on his right, two small kids in the yard, watching him, and he thought of Dennis and how long it’d been since he’d seen him, three months at least, California was so far away, the crumblings of a marriage reaching halfway across the country. Chet had promised they weren’t separated forever, had held the crying boy in his arms and said these words, but three months felt like forever to him, and then he saw these boys, a little older than Dennis but otherwise exactly the same, clapping and cheering. Saw a man roughly his age on the porch of the house look up at the commotion, stare worriedly at his boys, then turn to see Chet in the truck bed. Puzzlement gave way to a smile. The man nodded and waved. The children waved. Chet waved back with his hat, thinking he’d tell Dennis all about this, oh yes he would, and Dennis would grin and say Daddy can I go next time? and Chet would say yes, of course, you betcha, and they would laugh, and thinking of the laughter caused Chet to laugh again. He faced forward once more and shouted, “Give ‘er hell, boys!” And the boys gave her hell, and Chet put the hat back on his head and clung tightly to the horse and rode onward towards the future fast approaching from the horizon, yes you betcha.
© the author
by D.W. Davis
D.W. Davis is a native of rural Illinois. His work has appeared in various online and print journals. You can find him at Facebook.com/DanielDavis05, or @dan_davis86 on Twitter