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The Talking Horse
A Short Story by Sabri Bebawi   

©Sabri g. Bebawi: Under publication: Sagan, Miriam (2004). Sudden Fiction, UCLA.

Children’s stories, folktales, and legends often tell the woeful  sad   tale of a lonely child who is mistreated by a selfish unkind adult. The hero of the story is a special friend who rescues the child from an_awful_predicament  a bad situation  . Oftentimes, this friend is an animal who embodies  has  human characteristics. In this story you will read how a horse befriends a young boy and protects and defends him as only a horse could.

When his father died, Joy’s mom remarried.  Joy’s new stepfather did not want him around so he convinced  persuaded   his wife to send Joy to the village to live with the husband’s sister. “Your son will be well taken care of in my sister’s house,” the husband assured  made her feel certain of it   his new wife. Reluctantly  slow and unwilling to agree at first  , Joy’s mother agreed and Joy was sent to the village. Joy’s stepfather drove to his sister’s farm in the village to drop Joy off. Joy’s new guardian  person who will care for him  
 was a middle-aged, five-foot tall woman who looked mean and unkind. She had a booming voice and used vulgar  impolite, crude   language Joy was not used to hearing. She dressed in black and covered her head with a scarf that allowed locks of  gray hair to hang from beneath the scarf. “My name is Louva; you call me Aunt Louva little boy," said she to Joy, who felt uneasy around her. Joy, standing in front of Louva and looking up at her, could see her badly stained, chipped  broken  
 front teeth and could smell her bad breath. “God! She is ugly;” he thought. “Yes madam – I mean Aunt Louva.” Joy was then led to his room.  It was a tiny and dirty room with a tiny window looking at the stable where Louva kept a horse named Joshua. The room had a small mattress on the floor, one small pillow, and a very dirty cover. “This is where you will sleep;” yelled Louva in her screechy  having a loud high pitch   loud voice.

Every day at dawn Louva would wake Joy up and have him do the house chores.  He would wash the floor, clean up the kitchen, sweep the outside of the house and clean the stable. While in the stable, Joy would talk with Joshua, the horse, and would complain about Louva’s treatment.  Over time, Joy became attached to Joshua and so did Joshua to Joy. Many cold afternoons, Louva, Joy, and Joshua would go into the woods to collect wood for the fireplace and for the cooking stove. Louva would hit Joshua hard and yell, “Move you lazy horse, move.” One time Joy asked aunt Louva not to hit Joshua.  Consequently, joy was spanked  hit hard several times on the buttocks   hard and told to mind his business. While Louva was not watching, Joy whispered in Joshua’s ear, “Don’t worry Joshua; don’t worry; she is crazy.” Joshua shook his head up and down as though he understood and agreed.

Every night Joy would lie on the dirty mattress on the floor shivering from cold; he would think of home, miss his mother and weep. Sometimes his crying and weeping could be heard from outside. At times Joy would hear Joshua’s whinnies  the neighing sounds horses make   coming from the stable beneath his window.  

One night Joy heard a voice beneath his window calling his name, “Joyeeee...” He rushed to the window and looked down but saw no one there except Joshua. Astonished  Very surprised, shocked  , Joy climbed out the window and approached Joshua who greeted him warmly. A moment or two passed and Joy realized that Joshua was actually talking to him. After the initial shock, Joy was very happy and ever since every night they would meet and talk.

Louva felt that there was something going on between Joy and Joshua. She could hear some voices at night and she asked Joy several times about these voices. Joy would tell his aunt that she was imagining things. One night aunt Louva stayed awake just to investigate these voices. She thought she was hallucinating  seeing things that aren't really there    when she saw Joy and Joshua actually talking to each other.  She decided that Joy was possessed by a demon  controlled by an evil spirit   and that he should be locked up.

The next morning, just before dawn, Joy was awakened by a loud noise.  As he opened his eyes, he noticed the room was too dark and heard heavy knocking on the window. Louva was boarding up the window; she covered the window with wooden bars to prevent Joy from getting out. Joy jumped out of bed and ran toward the door but discovered that the door was locked.  He realized that he was imprisoned  locked in like a prisoner  

. He cried continuously. He remained imprisoned for days and nights.  His Aunt Louva would open the door, leave small pieces of bread and sometimes some pasta and water on the floor, exit, and lock the door. 
For several nights Joy would hear Joshua beneath the window, whispering words of encouragement to him. One night Joy heard scratches at his window.  He wondered but made nothing of it. Another night he heard the same noises, so he came close to the window and saw Joshua pulling the nails out of the wooden bars with his teeth. He was surprised and pleased; he was full of hope that he would be free. After some struggle, Joshua was able to remove all the wooden bars from the window and in joy forgot himself and gave a loud whinny.  Aunt Louva heard the noise and came out with a  shotgun. Joshua saw her coming; he called on Joy to jump down from the window.  Joy did and fell to the ground. Joy saw Joshua running toward Aunt Louva and as he approached her, he turned around and with his hind legs he kicked her so hard she flew far away and was no longer seen.  Joshua ran back toward Joy, neighed excitedly and told him he would take him back home. Joy climbed on Joshua’s back and through the wind Joshua raced away from the farm.

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