In The Land Of The Houyhnhnms

In The Land Of The Houyhnhnms

By Mel Goldberg



child-with-horseAfter Leona visited a farm as a child of eight, she decided she wanted to be a horse when she grew up. Each time they visited the farm, she went to the meadow and spoke to the horses.  They were friendly and nuzzled her hand when she brought them apples.  Her father, a musician, had always said that to be good at something, you must practice. So she practiced galloping through the house, imagining how it would be when she was on the plains, taking graceful strides, running free with her hair flowing behind her.

Her mother said, “You’re a little girl, and little girls cannot grow up to be horses. You must grow up to be a woman. You are fortunate to live in these times. You can be a nurse or even a doctor.  Maybe you can be a teacher or an executive with a large corporation.”  

In high school she took aptitude tests. Her counselor told her she was good with language and critical thinking. “Maybe you should study law  Lawyers make more money than most people.” Leona thought about what her counselor said. Making money seemed to be a good thing, especially if she wanted to get married and have a family.

So Leona went to school and became a lawyer. For many years she argued cases for poor people and rich people. Arguing cases made her feel good whether she won or lost. She raised her family and although she didn’t become wealthy, she made a comfortable living.  

Her children grew up, left home, and got married.  A few years later, after her husband died, she began to feel strange in her big house. And after she retired, she felt lost. She had no cases to argue and she started to forget things. Sometimes she forgot to eat.  She forgot to lock her doors at night.  She began to forget more and more, like her children’s names or where they lived. She even forgot the names of her grandchildren.

Then one day she decided to take a bus to the country and got off near a big field. Then she remembered what her father had told her. She scooted through the split-log fence, shook her hair loose, and ran across the field, tossing her head up and down, her long white hair trailing behind her.  She whinnied with her friends and watched for the little girl with the apples.




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