Audio drama script:
Every summer I worked there. So I suppose it’s no shock I’ve dreamed about the place a lot over the years. The timing is odd – not sure why I’d think of it so often, so deeply right now. Maybe because it’s summer and hot out? It was always hot down at the corral. Often, temperatures would reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit, scorching sun, no shade. And all that extra heat from the horses. And the kids. And those lovely teenage hormones.
Down at the stables was always the best part of every summer. I loved the kids – don’t get me wrong – but being a wrangler was all I could ask for in that moment of my life. There’s something so spiritual about connecting with a horse. The soul of one creature uniting with another through years of bonding on the trail. The horse I most loved was Black Magic – an honest-to-goodness wild mustang caught by a cousin of one of the guys at camp. I helped break him. I helped train him. And when I did, I let him take the lead, free rein through the forest, wild. Vibrant. Untamed.
He lived up to the magic part of his name. Every ride together was an otherworldly flight into the unknown. Companions. Best friends. I’ve bonded with other horses – Red, Josh, Big John, Madison. But Magic and I had this special connection unlike any I’ve had with another horse.
As we flew down trails, sometimes just for fun, sometimes for work, we knew each other’s thoughts. I could twitch a muscle on the left and he’d turn. I could lean my head to the right, and he’d race down the unbroken path in that direction. Every movement, every word, every expression was shared between us and known.
If you can be soulmates with an animal, then Magic and I were that.
After Magic had been in captivity for about three years, though, I noticed that things weren’t the same anymore. I only saw him in the summers – we were separated by five hours and a state – so maybe it was clearer to me than the folks who took care of him the rest of the year. But he was different. He was no longer that wild mustang I loved. He was just… a horse.
On the trails, he was the “boring one” for kids now. Nobody wanted to ride him except the kids who were half-terrified of the existence of these magnificent creatures in the first place. My heart broke again each time I went to the stable and gave him a groom or out to the front field to call in the horses. He was listless. His magic had gone.
Each day as I headed down to the stables, my heart hoped that somehow, he’d be okay again. That he’d be my Magic again. I hadn’t ridden him much – there were green horses who needed breaking. But watching him slowly plod along, no longer the wild, beautiful beast, my heart fractured.
Until one day, when the kids were gone and I was given special permission to go out for a ride. Of all the horses, I pleaded for Magic. I knew my friend needed some joy again. I hoped, somehow, I could help him. We started out on a slow walk. He was bored with himself. But I encouraged him for the next while, over and over again, begging him to come back to me. He trotted. I felt a slight lift in his movements.
I urged him forward, gently prodded him into a canter. His muscles felt tight, wary of the movement. But then, he relaxed. He leaned in. I leaned in. Without prodding from me, he shifted into a gallop. Full speed – faster than we’d ever run before – he whinnied, he sang. We hurtled through the forest, dodging down paths we’d ridden in times past, exploring new tracks that had yet to be blazed. Trees flew by, whirling past in a dance of green and brown wonderment.
Now, he laughed again. For Magic, that bold, noisome whinny was his laughter. I could feel it in the way he moved.
He was my Magic again.