Walking up a steeply winding lane, back to the house of my friend's grandmother. We've spent a couple hours along the rocky shore way below her house. It's a hot summer day, a strong tang of salt is in the air and the tide rumbles thoughtfully against the cliffs below. Passing a gate in the hedge, I notice a horse in the field and immediately I'm thinking... "How can I convince him to stop here for a moment?"
"Phew! This is so steep, hang on a minute!"
I lean on the gate.
"Oh look, there's a horse in the field", I say, casually.
My friend stops beside the gate, I lean upon it, looking at the horse, trying to attact his attention.
He notices us, and comes over.
The tall, beautiful gelding walks up and sniffs at us.
My friend seems amused... this is good... I'll get to spend a few more seconds here maybe.
The horse leans over the fence and puts his head over my shoulder, hugging me and maybe looking for some treat in my back pocket.
I hold on to the horse, I hug him, but of course I try to make it look like I'm not hugging him... more like I'm just holding on... maybe I'm being pushed... yeah.
Oh I feel his warm neck pressing against my face, his smell surrounds me, his aura infuses me... I'm in heaven... but I can't show it.
I chuckle, yeah, I even chuckle because I think that's probably an almost acceptable reaction that my friend might expect. When really, inwardly, I'm not laughing, I'm almost crying.
I whisper, ever so quietly, I whisper:
"I love you, brother."
And then I laugh some more, making light of the situation... I just can't risk, even for an instant, that my friend might think that this tiny moment actually means something to me.
No, I just can't risk it... because it's wrong... isn't it?
The lunchtime news is on the television. I'm sitting here watching the drivel with my parents. I'm about 15.
"And finally...", says the newsreader.
"The famous race-mare Triptych died today in an accident at a stud farm in France. The owner Mr........"
I shut my eyes slowly, hold my breath.
I loved her... I really loved Triptych. I'd never met her, or even seen her in the flesh, but I remember, long ago, sitting here infront of the racing and for the first time, looking at her and feeling... attracted. Perhaps my first zoo feeling, who knows?
And now she's dead.
I open my eyes and stare coldly at the screen.
My heart is a flood of emotion, but I know I can't show it... because I'd be asked to explain it... and the feelings I have, or had, for her are wrong.
I hold it in, bottle it up, forever...
I live lies...
I write down my thoughts. I write poems, prose, ramblings. Scrawling down in a little notebook all those feelings that I can never ever express.
I keep the notebook hidden.
I collect images of horses, pictures, books, figures, stories. And I keep them all hidden, because I can't explain to anyone why it is that I'm so fascinated with them.
One by one I come up with reasons, disguises, explanations why I should be able to surround myself with all these images of horses.
I have no interest in racing, in so called 'sport'. But I learn the names of the jockeys, the racecourses, the 'owners', the horses. I learn all these things and become a fount of pointless prattle about the subject, just so that I can justify covering my room with images of horses.
I have no interest in show-jumping. But I learn the dates of the big annual events, the names of the riders, enough details about the subject to convince my friends and parents that I have a genuine interest in the 'sport'. Enough interest to justify my need to watch horses on the television, to surround myself with images and words that speak of horses.
I take up role-playing games, so that I can exist, at least for a few hours a week, in a fantasy land where I can interact with horses. Where I can be surrounded by horses. Eventually I convince a friend of mine that it would be an interesting exercise to try to roleplay a world of horses. I play the part of a horse, and become predictably obsessed, dreaming each night about the fantasy horses that I have become so attached to.
I live lies.