Volume 24, Number 1

Toy Horse

The dog rips the polyester stuffing from the almost-pony-sized toy horse. A guest in this house, you watch, mouth agape, wishing you could gallop away. The dog mounts the flattened flame-retardant horse, rocking madly. Once a day, he rapes it, the owner shrugs, as though this is suitable for you to see. The child, to whom the toy horse belongs, stands now in the doorway, crying. Already, it is seared into memory. Language. Elemental shapes. Proof. Kneeling, you push hard against the barrel-chested dog and begin scooping fistfuls of fiber back into the toy horse’s fur. Everything will be fine, you want to say. It is too much for you to see the child’s face, wondering what she’ll recall. Life is not like this, you whisper to her, drawing an invisible circle around the scene.

—Kristina Moriconi