This week, we have a short story offering a unique point of view on the current pandemic and another first for Showcase!
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink our perspectives on many things we once took for granted. Tricia Wadsworth’s story considers the global crisis from the point of view of her horse, Storm, who suddenly finds himself without the company to which he has become accustomed, and imagines how he might rationalise the abrupt change in circumstances.
We also have a poem by our very own Madeleine White, editor of Write On! and recently published author of the novel Mother Of Floods. The poem explores not only the crippling anxiety we sometimes feel as individuals, but acknowledges the moment of realisation when we can, at last, identify what binds us and understand that others are capable of feeling this way, too—and what that can mean for how we might lift ourselves, and one another, up and out of those dark moments.
As with last week, where we showcased our first-ever video submission, Madeleine has decided to perform her poem as a spoken piece. Thus, this week marks another first for Showcase: our first audio performance! Again, I would like to emphasise that, while we will continue to predominantly publish the spoken word via this platform, I welcome submissions in other forms, including artwork, video and audio.
Keep on writing!
Dan (Associate Editor)
COVID-19: Storm’s Perspective by Tricia Wadsworth
I don’t know what’s happening. Things seem to have changed and I don’t understand why. None of my friends seem to have any answers, either. As a prey animal, I’m naturally resistant to change and less able to cope mentally than a predator would if their world was turned upside-down, as mine has been.
Yes, change has happened before. I was only eight when I went to live with a very nice lady, Jenny, who told me I was her forever horse and she would always have my best interests at heart. I imagined how it would be and it was good. She looked after my every need and spent hours getting me ready for shows. In turn, I tried my best for her and won lots of rosettes. Those weren’t important to me, but I enjoyed the feeling I got when Jenny was really pleased with me. It always made me strive to do better.
A few years later, another person came into my life. At first, I was annoyed at this aggravating little person and did my best to put her off by not being compliant and even kicking out at her. Jenny was horrified and not at all pleased with me. She explained that she had met another person who was now very important to her and that Tricia, who had been her best friend all her adult life, had come to help her out. I still wasn’t happy and am ashamed I gave Tricia such a hard time, but she wouldn’t go, however badly I behaved. Over the months, we spent more and more time together. Gradually, I came to love her and behave properly for her.
We became a good partnership and, one day, Jenny told me I was going to be Tricia’s forever horse. She explained I had been the most important thing in her life while things hadn’t been good, but that her life was changing now and she didn’t need me to comfort her any more, now she was getting married. She explained that Tricia had sadness inside and I was now needed in her life to help heal her. So, she was giving me to Tricia as a gift, as she knew that would guarantee me a lovely life. Humans like to think they own us, but all animals are free souls and I had already given my heart to my new mum.
I’ve now lived half my life with my special person, Tricia. As I’m nearly 25 and looking back over my life, I know how lucky I have been. I understand she has gone without a lot of things, and it hasn’t been easy. When I hear her tell people she thinks God put me on this earth the year her husband was dying to make up for that loss, my heart almost bursts with pride.
I’m living in a really nice place now. Tricia is older and doesn’t want to do the chores every day. There are some lovely girls who see to my every need and are learning to do it all properly, as they have exams to pass. I get time out in the field with my friends and then come in to a lovely big stable with hay, water and a comfortable clean bed to lay on. Tricia comes most days and exercises me, so I’m pretty fit for my age and I can still surprise her by spooking at nothing at all, just to keep her on her toes. She hasn’t fallen off me here, but has tripped over twice on the concrete for no apparent reason whatsoever; apparently not even alcohol-related! I understand the routine and am settled because it doesn’t change and that makes me feel secure.
But then something did change. Tricia didn’t come to the yard after work. I wasn’t concerned, as she allowed herself the odd day off. I knew she would be here the next day. But she wasn’t, nor the day after that, and it has been over 30 days now. The strange thing is, nobody else has been to see their horses either; the yard is very quiet. There is nobody for me to watch riding in the arena opposite my stable. The girls are still working and looking after my every need but it’s very strange. I know that horses can be sold but I’m sure Tricia wasn’t going to do that, and anyway, where is my new owner? I also hear tell about places you can go to for retirement, but I’m definitely not ready to retire yet and surely Tricia would still come and visit now and again? They keep taking pictures of us – mostly in the field, or being groomed. Once, we had to wear a silly scarf and the latest idea was we all wore a tiara, even us boys, which I didn’t like.
Listening to the girls talking, it seems that something is happening all over the world and maybe things will never be the same again. I’m sure it must be really bad to stop Tricia visiting, as she is very particular about me getting enough exercise. I know she’s had time before when she couldn’t visit for a while, but then she cried into my neck as she told me about the cancer and the operation and I knew that, all being well, she would return.
So, what of the future? I can only hope that things get back to normal and my old life will resume, but there is a niggling worry in the back of my mind that it may not. I hear that people are dying and that maybe not all of our owners will make it back. I’ve been reflecting on my life and the things I have done. Right now, I don’t feel as though I have a purpose. I know a lot of my friends are happy to have a holiday from work, but I’ve always enjoyed the attention of being groomed and ridden and of learning new things. I’m happiest when Tricia scratches me in my itchy places and when she can see I’m trying hard to understand an exercise and praises me. But a prey animal knows only too well that nothing stays the same forever.
So, if the worst happens and Tricia doesn’t come back, I know that I have fulfilled the promise of my existence by making her life better and healing her sorrow. When my time comes, I will be ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge and start the biggest adventure of all.
“This is the first time I have written a story since my school days, which were a long time ago! The only writing I do is a ‘diary’ from the point of view of Storm, my horse, to send to a wonderful friend of mine. I realised I didn’t have anything much to add in March and April, only photographs, but I had the idea to write something in story form.” Tricia Wadsworth, 2020.
You Made Me Cry, written and performed by Madeleine White CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
“I wrote this piece following the first Tracy Emin exhibition, She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea, in 2012. That year was a turning point in my life. It reaffirmed my conviction that we are all creators, with the power to name what holds us and then move beyond it. I have pulled some of these ideas together in my debut novel Mother Of Floods. Like Margaret Atwood, I have used the six main female protagonists to mirror our dystopian present back at us. But they are not held there. Instead, in the vein of Paulo Coehlo, they tap into the courage within themselves to come together, so propelling us and them past the end of the world as we know it, into something new. Available on Amazon and good bookshops.” Madeleine White, 2020.
If you’d like to see your writing appear in Write On! Showcase, please send your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can read more fiction, poetry, interviews and author advice in the latest issue of Write On! Available here
I knew she would be here the next day. But she wasn’t, nor the day after that, and it has been over 30 days now.