Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Foal Watcher

The Foal Watcher

Like a person up from a sick bed for the first time in days, the mare stood on shaking legs. Sweat coated her body even though it was only twelve degrees outside. All that could be seen was two feet coated with a wet, slimy matter.

Sharon stood at her rear. “Come on Spectra, push,” she whispered.

The mare’s stomach muscles tensed. The straining muscles looked like tight steel bands around her sides. The foal did not emerge any further. It was premature and would not live. Sharon knew the manager’s main concern now was saving the mare.

“Get the chains,” Matty Wilson, the birthing expert, turned toward her.

Sharon could see the worry etched between Matty's eyebrows in two deep furrows. She could smell the fear coming from the mare.

Pulling on a shoulder length rubber glove Matty inserted her arm inside the mare and felt.

“The foal’s backwards," she said. "We’ve got to get it out. Spectra can’t take much more. Go get the chains.”

Sharon bit her lip. She knew this was part of being a foal watcher, but it didn’t make it easy. The two years she’d worked at the breeding farm had been like a lesson in growing up. She ran off and returned with two long lengths.

“Thanks.” Matty took the chain and reached once more inside the mare. “No change.”

They looked at each other exchanging sad, worried glances.

Matty wrapped the chain tightly around the foal’s protruding feet.

“Okay, let’s pull on three," she said. "One, two three.”

They strained backwards as if they were playing tug of war. The mare pulled against them. Loud, cracking sounds filled the air as the foal’s bones were stretched in ways nature never intended.

For three minutes they pulled and then slowly the body of the foal emerged. He was dead. The mare’s body visibly relaxed and then she began to move around nickering softly for her foal.
“Get it out of here.”

Sharon knew the sooner they got the dead foal out of the stall, the sooner the mare would forget. Tears stung her eyes. She hated it when something went wrong.

This is the beginning of a book.

5 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

This is a very good story. Strong beginning that captures the reader's interest and continues with good pacing, voice, and description.

Awww. Thought the foal would make it.

Very well done!

Good luck with your book.

Deanna said...

So, so sad Deborah - you're really good at that. As Marisa said, this is a good beginning that captures and leaves me wanting more.

DeborahB said...

Marisa, Glad this beginning captured you. This story is in progress, and will follow the hard life of those who love the horses, but don't share the riches. Thank you for reading. :)

DeborahB said...

Deanna, It is sometimes a sad occupation, being a foal watcher, but there are wonderful moments, too. Glad you were left wanting more. :)Thanks for taking the time to read.

J.C. Towler said...

Egads. Things never are going to turn out well when somebody says "get the chains".

Good one, Deborah. Will be interested to see what follows.

--John