Note: This story is true and the only thing I've changed is my last name for privacy. I'm a guy, but I hope I'm still welcome here. Awkward... ;)
I couldn't stand them. I hated anything that had to do with them.
It wasn't total dislike for them, or disgust toward them because that's how fifteen-year-old boys should apparently be...
I hate to admit this.
It was fear.
There, I've said it. When I was fifteen, fear was out of the question. Nobody thought I was scared of anything. Everyone thought Josh Evans was a tough guy. All the guys, even some big eleventh graders, admired my hockey and football skills. The younger guys were terrified of me. And all the girls crushed on me.
And then to be scared of horses?
I bet you're all like, what do I even have to do with horses?
A lot, actually.
I grew up loving horses. When I say loving, I really mean it. Like, I totally adored them. I got my first horse, a three-year-old midnight-black Arabian named Forsaken, when I was eight.
Forsaken, because that's exactly what he had been before he was mine.
My mom ran her own little horse rescue, and I loved helping her with it. By the time I was seven I could lunge a horse on my own already. I never knew my dad. I had been born when my mom was only seventeen and she'd had to run away from home, soooo...
When I was eight, I found Forsaken tied up in an ancient stable half a mile from my place. An unknown person had left a typed message on our doorstep about a horse at this old stable that needed help, so when I found that note after school one day I rushed right over. The horse was bruised and cut and sick, terribly neglected. With the help of my mom I nursed it back to health again.
Then one day I lost them. My life fell apart.
I remember that day as clearly as if it had happened yesterday, or half an hour ago, instead of the actual seven years.
It had been a humid day. It was late July. Storm clouds were ominously brewing on the western horizon, and Mom said that we should put Forsaken in the barn.
She waited until too late. It started storming before she went out. Lightning tore the sky and thunder like I'd never heard before rent the heavens.
Mom told me to stay inside.
I loved Forsaken! I couldn't leave him alone. The second Mom went outside I yanked on my jacket and went out the back door, determined to help.
The scene, like a video stuck in replay, flashes through my head as I write. Like it's done so many thousands of times. Millions.
Mom was standing in the barn, trying to calm Forsaken.
"Mom!" I can hear my scream over the roaring of the thunder, rain, and then hail. "Mom! Let me help!"
Mom looks toward me. "Go back to the house, honey!" she yells.
I shake my head and step forward.
Now everthing flips to slo-mo.
I hear a rending crash, see light and dark as one, see Mom lunge toward me and feel her push my body out of the way, out of the barn, hear nothing but roaring, crashing as the barn falls down around us. Hit by lightning.
Mom saw it coming. She pushed me out of the way.
They found me lying where the barn door had been. I had blocked the exit. Mom was found just inside the door. She could have escaped the heavy falling timber that killed her if I had not been there not block the way.
I hate you, Josh, I told myself over and over again.
Oh, the guilt.
I killed my own mom. If I had stayed in the house, I wouldn't have been in the way. That split second made all the difference. I lost my best friends that day, my mom and my horse. You could say I lost myself, too.
I killed my mom.
Killed her with my disobedience.Comment if you want to find out how I lost and regained my love for horses... and how I rebuilt my life.
Thanks so much for reading! Stay tuned for more chapters!
After Mom died, nothing in life really mattered anymore. I went to live with my grandparents in the city and didn't care much if I lived or died. I wouldn't even try to avoid accidents.
I started playing hockey, football, and skateboarding. When faced with oncoming danger or the possibility of an injury, human nature has it to act accordingly and save ourselves. Get out of the way. I wasn't like that after I left the farm. Because of that, I got hurt a lot in extreme skateboarding and other things.
For example, when I was thirteen, I was in a pro skate park that my grandma had taken me to. It was quite full that day, and I guess I was being way too reckless. I hate telling this story. But I need to get it all out.
There was this little guy at the park. About half my size. And that guy was insane at skateboarding! He must have been only about eight or maybe nine... I don't know exactly. I was a little jealous of him because he was so good.
Like hey, I was thinking, when I was that age how good was I? I couldn't even stay up on flat concrete!
That's when it hit me: what I had been good at when I was that age.
I had a gift with horses.
At that thought my mouth went dry. I felt a familiar flood of mixed emotions and flashbacks to the accident.
Another thought hit me: if I hadn't loved horses my mom would still be alive. If I'd never gotten Forsaken my mom would still be alive. I no longer shouldered the guilt alone. Of all the awful things to have done, I transferred some of the blame to horses.
And right there in that big skate park, all traces of my old equine passion left me.
What happened next is almost too awful to say. I had one option left: death would save me from all this awful confusion.
I didn't truly want to die. I've never been a that guy even in all I've been through. I don't know how many of the people who are reading this believe in a heaven and a hell, but I was conscious of the awful life I was living and didn't want to take any chances with hell.
So what was I doing cruising top speed at the park's biggest, most dangerous jump? I was going much too fast. There was no way I'd come out of that jump unhurt.
I did get hurt, and pretty bad. I had a major concussion, two broken ribs, a broken left arm, fractured leg, and four broken fingers, and a ton of scrapes and bruises.
That was nothing compared to what I heard when I woke up at the hospital three days later.
Apparently, I had landed right on the little guy, the one that was such a good skateboarder. He had a lot more injuries than me, and I couldn't name half of them. I remember that he had a broken neck, though. The paramedics who came to the scene figured he wouldn't pull through the night, but the tough guy did; and that's not all: he also made a full recovery faster than me.
Which is great.
But still, I felt awful. I was trying to hurt myself, and I ended up hurting not only myself, but also everyone else involved. Not just the little kid, but my grandparents and the kid's family too. It's never easy hearing your child just had an accident. Never easy seeing them hurt. Helping them recover. Paying hospital bills. And on and on.
It was just another burden to shoulder. Another weight to bog me down. I'll confess there were times when I cried. Who wouldn't? I remember nights deprived of sleep because of the guilt and crying. Deep down I knew not everything was my fault. But I just couldn't seem to convince myself. I would literally scream at the wall in my pain and anguish. Oh God, was it awful. Why me?
I was desperate. I needed something.
Hockey tore me away from reality in the winter; football in the summer. I threw my heart into it and quit caring about my grades as soon as I hit high school. Teachers didn't like me, unsurprisingly.
But it wasn't enough just to play sports. I needed to heal through something else. A friend. Talking. Crying. Letting it all out.
But I couldn't cry like I could when I was 13, no way. My friends were rough football players. On the outside, I was too tough to let out the pain ripping me apart inside.
I tried to forget how much Forsaken had helped me when I was little. I blotted those memories out to the point where I didn't want to think about Mom anymore.
Then my big chance came.