I found it hard to sleep last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. A horrendous mystery was slowly unpeeling in my mind like a rotten orange, but I could never break through to the center. What was it? What had happened? There was no answer to the questions that hung so heavily over my head as I trembled there in bed.
What was it that followed us home that night?
I shiver even now, just thinking about it, and I despair knowing the answer to these questions may never be uncovered.
It started yesterday afternoon as I was driving with my family. The sun was warm. The air was clear. Everyone was in good spirits and all was right with the world. We passed a cabin and someone pointed at a horse that was in the backyard. I slowed so we could admire it.
“That’s a very pretty horse,” Clara said casually.
“Yeah,” Lydia said, matching her sister’s tone. “It reminds me of the horse that followed us home that one day.”
There was total silence for a few moments before anyone spoke again. “I’m sorry, Lydia. But what did you just say?” I asked from the front seat.
“I said it reminds me of the time when that horse followed us home.”
“What?” her mother said flatly. “When? Where?”
Lydia was already starting to get a bit agitated. “Our house. That one night. I don’t remember when exactly. Not very long ago. Maybe a year ago? Don’t you remember?”
Andrea looked at me and I shook my head nervously. “I don’t remember anything ever,” I admitted, “but I feel like I would remember a horse following me home.” I sighed and consulted the family historian, “Clara, do you remember a horse ever following-“
“No.” she cut me off. “That never happened. Why are we talking about this like it is possible that that actually happened?”
Lydia growled and flailed at her sister. “But it DID happen! It was a horse! And it followed us! It followed our car all the way to our house!”
“And then what?” Andrea asked.
Lydia shrugged, “We went inside. I don’t think we saw what happened after that.”
“That’s it? Did it run away?”
The girl shook her hands in the air. “How do you not remember this? No! It didn’t run away! It just stood there and we walked inside and then later we looked out and it was gone.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Why would we do that though? I don’t understand. We just left it there? We left a horse in our front yard while we walked up the path to our house and went inside?”
“Was there someone with it?”
“Did it have a horn?”
“Dad, this was REAL!” She started rocking back and forth in her seat and extended her arms in front of her and shook them as if she trying to lift a large invisible barrel.
“I remember the horse.”
We all turned to look at Gideon.
“You remember a horse that followed us home?”
“Yes,” he nodded vigorously, and Lydia looked like she was going to cry with relief.
“What do you remember?”
He looked out the side window, “Well,” he said dreamily, “I remember I was a very tiny baby, and-“
“Gideon!” everyone yelled at the same time, even Lydia who was wailing with frustration.
“I didn’t dream this! I remember it. The horse was…” she paused for a moment. “It was a large black horse. It followed us all the way from before the mailboxes and it stopped behind our car, in the driveway. We all saw it! We all knew it was there! How do you not remember this?!”
She was becoming hysterical and I was forced to change the subject, but my mind never moved on, and as the sun set and the clouds stretched out into long ribbons and filled the sky, I found myself staring out the window, watching them slowly change shape, haunted by the thought of a mysterious black horse. The sun vanished in a red-purple glow and the sky outside the window was replaced by my own dark silhouette reflection, and still, I stared. I stared deep into that shadowy man, into his mind, his long lost memories. What was it that had followed us home that night? How had it erased itself from our memories? What nefarious quest had it been on? Why had it blotted itself from all of our minds, but left itself inside of young Lydia’s? Was it still out there somewhere? How many times had we seen it only to have forgotten its existence the moment we looked away?
I shook my head and then turned to leave, and for a moment, as I turned, I thought I saw something move towards me from behind the shed on the far side of the yard. I quickly turned back and looked again, and realized it had been nothing.