The young filly, a golden palomino, sees you at the gate. She is a fifty yards away, halfway between you and your grandfather’s barn that stands silhouette on a low shortgrass hill behind her. Her flaxen coat is shiny slick in the midday sun, head up, still chewing the mouthful of grass she tore loose from the ground in front of her hooves.
She stares, standing still as a fence post. Your arms are folded, resting on the top board, which is even with your bare shoulders. It is the edge of summer, and you are eleven. You don’t move, or make a sound, only look back at her. You study her, she studies you, like two who might know each other—but maybe not. An irregular blaze divides her face and finishes in a point on her nose. You think she’s beautiful.
Then, not aloud, only in your mind, you call her. With pure intention. “Dolly! Com’ere!”
She shakes her blonde mane, like cirrus drapery, and flicks her tail and looks away. But then she fixes her sights on you and starts walking toward you. She lowers her head a little as she closes the distance. Slow and steady, right up to the gate. You step back and she puts her muzzle just over on your side of the fence, then she settles her chin and rests her cheek on the board.
“You heard me, didn’t you?” You ask Dolly.
Her voice in your head answers clear as the cloudless blue sky. “And you hear me, don’t you?” You go wide-eyed, and smile. You look side to side, both ways. Over your shoulder. You’re alone.
She twitches her ears and flubbers her lips, that sound of exasperation a working man might make when the work’s not going right. “But, who, now? Who besides the yellow sun,” Dolly wonders, “are you going to tell?” Then she rounds-up and walks back toward the barn.
You see the distant figure that is your grandfather come around the corner of the barn. His shoulders are sloped with the weight of a bushel basket in his arms, and you know there is corn in the basket, ears he’s just shucked for Dolly.
“I’ll tell my ‘Pa,” you say. And she breaks into an easy lope toward him. She answers nothing, but you’re pretty sure Dolly agrees that’s your best bet. You’ll meet her tomorrow and find out.