The paddock fills with clomping feet and snorting nostrils, and I am tired of it. My fellow horses stink. Especially the young ones, who waste their energy frolicking. Their sides grow frothy with sweat, and sometimes at night, they catch a chill. There's nothing worse than colt sneezes; they don't know to turn their heads away, and they spray everyone nearby.
Every time somebody makes a wish, a new horse arrives. They crowd into the paddock, forced to stay behind the fence until the wish comes true. From our paddock we can see the freed horses, running across the heavens, streaking the sky with their hooves.
The horses that are lucky get to leave within a few hours: wishes to find misplaced car keys, or wishes that tests were over. Others need to wait weeks: campers wishing for hamburgers or movie fans wishing for opening night. Still others wait for months or years: dieters wishing to reach their goal or lonely people wishing for true love. But some of us are destined to be confined for endless days, saddled with wishes ranging from laughable to outright impossible.
When I say "saddled," I mean it literally. We wear saddles that name our wishes, and this being a heavenly paddock, we can all read them (although I've heard that earthly horses cannot read). When your saddle falls off, it means your wish has been fulfilled and you are free. Mine says "Pony." I will probably be here forever, or until my wisher dies -- for that is the only other way that we wish horses are freed. The only difference is that, rather than falling off, the saddle simply disappears.
We who wear the "Pony" saddles have formed a club, and I don't like to admit it, but we can be quite cynical. But that is probably, in part, because many of us are so old. Every once in a while, one of the newer "Pony" saddles remarks sadly that, if the little girls who had wished for ponies only realized that real horses were confined to a dreary existence by their words, they would immediately wish them free. We older ponies only laugh dryly, since we know there is no way to let them know.
Our group has a lot in common with those who wear "Be a Ballerina" on their saddles, and those who wear the blinged-out saddles reading "Be Famous."
Now here's the thing about wishes: The more specific a wisher is, the more rigid the wish fulfillment must be. So if someone wishes for "A new car" but doesn't specify it has to be drivable, the pony can fly free if the wisher receives a toy car, or even a photo of a car. For this reason, some "Pony" saddles have gained freedom when their wishers received a My Pretty Pony.
Sadly, if the wisher expresses a wish for a real pony that she can pet and ride, the wish can only be fulfilled in a very specific way. My wisher must have made one of those wishes.
Over the years -- and the decades -- I've come to terms with my existence. I stand here day by day, eating ghost grass and biding my time. Where possible, I help the new horses -- there are so many now wearing blinged-out saddles. They often hope against hope that their wishers will be successful at finding fame; that they will be a contestant on a reality show or maybe produce a viral video. But I gently explain to them that most of their wishers are as unlikely to achieve their dreams as those who have wished into existence horses after horses bearing saddles reading "To Marry Edward" or "To Marry Jacob."
Humans only live so long, and though it saddens me to think that the person who created me will vanish from this earth, I know that will mean my release. Today, I've felt a humming in my saddle, a vibrating coldness that grows more profound. The saddle has been fading all day.
At dusk, the sky is brilliant with pink and gold, and the free horses whip wildly across the firmament, dragging the clouds behind them. I've always found their joy contagious, and I like to rest my head on the post I've worn smooth over many days, to watch them. The saddle now feels like it is barely there, a chill, frail fragment. I turn to see how much of it is left, and just before it vanishes, the belt unbuckles and the saddle tumbles from me. How very odd.
The paddock door opens, and I step cautiously outside. A glowing shape moves towards me: at first an indiscernible blob and then, I realize, a woman. She has long, flowing white hair and looks... familiar. The humans never come to our part of heaven; few even know we exist. But she clasps her hands to her face and gazes at me lovingly.
"I knew you existed!" she calls. "I wished so hard to meet you."
With a quick movement as if she has been planning it for her whole life, she swings herself onto my back and together, we run into the pink and gold.