Here's a sampling of a creative nonfiction essay I'm currently working on. This is a glimpse of the first rough draft. Please feel free to let me know what you think. The working title is "Tattoo."
GENTLE DEAD-BROKE QH gelding. 15hh. Flashy sorrel.
Easy keeper. Good lesson horse for beg-int'm rider, great on trails.
There was nothing flashy about this animal. He simply wasn't pretty. IF he was eye-catching, it was because of the utter awkwardness of his entire body.: a nightmare of configuration, a failed model in need of a redo. Knobbly-kneed. Skinny-necked. A slooping, protuberant snout. Equally protuberant hips. The worst part, however, was his tail. Cropped abrupt and short, it was a tattered scrub-brush of a thing. Occasionally it would give a desperate flicker, trying in vain to swat the flies just out of its reach. Too short to do any good.
Docile and droop-eared, the horse stood on his line, chewing and rubbing the fat coil of his tongue over and under the bridle's bit. Over and under. Over and under.
"Whatcha think?" the woman at the other end of his lead asked me. Her streaked blond hair was clenched in a ponytail and a cigarette dangled from her mouth, its smoke curling toward the horse.
I looked back at the gelding. Mud-caked and standing in the thick slop of the riding pen. They hadn't even cleaned him up for a sale.
"Yea, I'll ride him," I said.
Thirteen years old and at once fascinated and terrified of myself, I wasn't aware that I had options. I was more acutely aware of all the open space around my elongating limbs than I was about my own voice saying no.
The woman tossed me the rope and yanked a saddle and pad from the corral fence. She slapped them onto the horse's skinny bare back. Sweat and dust matted the pad's underside, flaky like old dried icing. At the sudden touch of the cloth, the horse's skin twitched and shuddered, as if he were twittering away a worrisome bug, but otherwise his demeanor of mute boredom (or perhaps long-suffering) didn't waver.
A jerk and a switch of leather and the saddle cinch was tightened, ready to go.
The woman's palm slapped the saddle seat. "Hop on up."
The braided lead left a smear of mud on my hands. I wiped one palm on my jeans but only further embedded the dirt in my skin. I glanced over my shoulder at my mother waiting at the fence. She shrugged. Go ahead if you want. I looked back at my waiting mount and the impatient woman. The skin around the saddle-cinch had puckered and folded, caught in a tight pinch. A wrinkled old grape. My eyes fluttered to the woman as I quickly slipped a finger behind the cinch. A quick tug loosened it.
I snapped my hand to my neck, pretended to scratch in a pathetic effort to disguise my tampering. I heard a chuckle and felt heat spread across my cheeks.
"Ok," I said to no one in particular and swung into the saddle. The pointed tip of an ear rotated back toward me.
"Yea," I muttered.
Thanks for reading!