Monday Rewrite: When Wishes Were Horses

Adam sighs and lays back, his head resting against the tree. He shuts his eyes and thinks of a cool drink, feels it form in his hand, the moisture seeping down the glass and between his fingers. He drinks. He could do with a cushion for his head, the tree’s a little hard. Immediately one appears. He hears the sound of hooves, distant thundering at first, then growing louder and slowing right down. He opens a sleepy eye. It’s Eve, right there in front of him, on a magnificent horse.‘Where’d’you find that?’ he asks her. She grins. ‘I just thought it up,’ she said, ‘fancied riding a horse and – here it is. Want to come?’ He considers. He’s torn, he really just wants a doze, but he thinks she might be offended. He shuts his eyes to think and when he opens them he hears the thundering hooves and sees she’s already fading into a dusty distance. Why does she do that? Not wait for his answer. It’s the third time today, though she wouldn’t know it. He reaches out, lifts another piece of forbidden fruit and bites. He finds himself wishing for a different Eve. But no matter how hard he tries, it never happens. So he wishes for other things instead. Distractions and comforts. Eve births two boys and years later the sons take a stroll to worship their God, and when the younger comes off better than his brother, the older boy wishes for another brother instead. His wish turns into a blunt instrument and thus Cain wishes away the life of Abel. To make his life easier. And it catches on so much that years later everyone starts wishing other people were not sharing the same air, and making it so, until the earth is so troubled by their wishing it rebels and groans up a flood. And the weather can do nothing but turn on them, and no matter how hard they wish for a horse, or a boat, or an aeroplane, they are unable to flee the broken world of their own wishing.

And so time passed but little changed, as new generations emerged, and the days raced by with the speed of people’s wishes.

Then one day, years later, a man showed up in a distant corner of the world, his hands calloused with splinters and his feet dusty with sawdust. And though he wasn’t the one they were all wishing for, they soon discovered their wishes were askew. And some began to ditch their wishing and start living again. But the elite couldn’t manage it, they wore their power like a blindfold and soon they decided to wish him away. And they scooped him up and hammered him with the darkest wishes they could conjure. And he took them, and absorbed them, and lay breathless and cold-tomb-still. But not for long. No matter how much they wished they couldn’t keep him down. And three days later there was talk of the dusty man walking the streets again. So the people found themselves facing a choice. Could they dare leave their dark wishes behind and aim for something else? Some took that less travelled way, placing their clumsy feet in the dusty footprints and doing their best to follow the meandering subtle steps. The blindfolded lot did their utmost to wish the thing away, but the more they wished, the more the numbers grew. It seems the man of dust could not be wished away.

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