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The Phantom Steed
The First Occurrence
Seven year old Tommy Smith sat up in his bed. He thought he heard a horse whinnying. He often dreamed about riding the horse he once had. He had named the horse Blaze. Blaze was a chestnut bay about 14 hands high. A picture of himself astride a horse with his mom and dad watching from the other side of a wooden fence sat on his bureau. His eyes drifted from his dad. A tear rolled down his left cheek.
He opened the draw to his night stand and took out a dvd. The label on the DVD had the word "Dad" written on it. The dvd player was on his small desk. He got up and placed the DVD in the DVD player. He was five years old when his dad first taught him to ride a horse.
After his dad died, his mom had to sell the farm and move to the city. That's when Tommy lost Blaze. And a part of him was missing. His mom had told him that his dad and Blaze would always be there in his heart.
Then he heard a horse whinnying again. It was not his imagination. It did not come from the DVD player. It came from the back yard! It sounded just like Blaze. But that couldn't be. Or could it? Blaze was sold. Maybe Blaze came back. But how would Blaze know where Tommy lived?
Tommy rushed to the window. The back yard was fenced in. One large oak tree shaded his bedroom from the sun. The pile of freshly cut grass laid in the center of the yard.
He heard his mom yelling. "Tommy. Come and eat."
Tommy turned his head and answered, "I'll be right there."
He glanced out the window before walking away. The pile of freshly cut grass was gone!
"Wash your hands first" He heard his mom say.
Tommy entered the bathroom and turned on the sink. He pushed his tawny hair away from his blue eyes. His tawny hair looked a great deal like Mom's hair. Then he proceeded to wash his face and hands. He was a little tall for his age. He had inherited his height from his dad.
Tommy ran into the kitchen and ate his lunch. Then he grabbed several sugar cubes from the kitchen cabinet. He ran back into his bedroom and opened the window. He extended his hand out of the window with the sugar cubes in the palm of his hand.
He whistled and said in a soft sweet voice, "Blaze. Come here, Blaze. Look what I've got for you."
"Who are you talking to?" His mom did not hear what he said. She assumed he was talking to his imaginary friend he had often played with. "You can go out and play with your friend if you like."
She went into the bathroom and opened the window. She had a basket of wet clothes by her side. A clothes line extended from the window to the oak tree. She started hanging the wet clothes on the clothesline.
The bathroom window was about three and a half feet above the ground. She was looking at the lawn. She saw the sod being torn up by an invisible force as Blaze ran to Tommy's bedroom window. She shook her head and rubbed her eyes. Then she opened her eyes and refocused on the sod. The one word she spoke was barely audible. "Blaze?"
Tommy and his mom did not know that Blaze had died from bloat a few months after mom sold her
Mom finished hanging the clothes on the clothesline and closed the window. She came out of the bathroom and glanced at Tommy. Then she proceeded down the short hallway to the back door.
Tommy followed her. She glanced at the torn up sod and looked at Tommy's window. Tommy stood beside her.
"Don't worry," she said, "I'm not angry with you."
"You've been feeding Blaze. Haven't you."
Tommy shook his head from side to side.
Her voice was soft but stern. "Don't lie to me. I saw you grab sugar cubes from the kitchen."
Tommy started crying. "Please! Don't send Blaze away again."
She got down on her knees and hugged him. She remembered how heart broken she was when she had to give up Blaze. And she wasn't sure she could give up the horse a second time.
"Let's go sit on the front porch for a while." She whispered.
Even if she wanted to, how could she give up an invisible horse? She started laughing and hugged Tommy. Tommy looked perplexed as they went through the living room to the front door.
They both sat on the porch.
She smiled, "You want to build an invisible stable for our invisible horse?"
Tommy giggled. It was so nice to see Tommy laughing.
They were distracted by a car crash. The car was in the middle of the road. The front end of the car was badly damaged. The hood was crumpled. The headlights were smashed. The airbag had inflated trapping the driver. But what did the car hit? The road was empty.
Waiting and Hoping
Tears rolled down Tommy's cheeks.
Mom's eyes were glassy and a single tear rolled down her cheek. She hugged Tommy and whispered, "Lets go inside."
Tommy's voice broke up as he said, "That was -- "
"We don't know that for sure." Mom interrupted him.
Tommy got up and entered his bedroom. He shut the door and looked out the bedroom window. Then he opened the window and leaned out of it. "Blaze. Come here, Blaze."
He waited, hoping Blaze would come to the window. But Blaze did not come. Tommy laid on his bed and cried himself to sleep.
That evening, Mom turned on the TV news. The story of the accident was in the national headlines. People were baffled by it. What did that car hit? Some news reporters claimed the whole accident was a farce. They claimed that the accident took place elsewhere and the car was tolled there. But Mom knew that was not true.
Tom would call for Blaze every morning before he went to school. When he came home he would call for Blaze again. After doing his homework, he would be by his bedroom window waiting for Blaze.
The days and months passed by. Winter came and went. On the first day of summer vacation Tom got up and looked out the window. Then he dressed and ate breakfast.
Mom reminded him that the grass needed cutting. Tommy ate breakfast and went out back. He pushed the lawn mower across the grass. Then he trimmed the grass alongside the fence and alongside the house.
Mom came out with two rakes. They raked up the grass into a pile and sat on the back porch.
"Want a soda?" Mom asked.
Mom went inside to get his soda.
Tom sat there staring into thin air. A few minutes later he felt a nudge. He looked up and saw his mom.
She handed him the soda.
Tom felt a second nudge. This time he knew it was not his mom because she was sitting on his other side.
He looked at his mom. "Where you just nudged?"
She smiled and shook her head up and down.
"Blaze!" They both yelled. Slowly but surely the horse materialized.
They got up and started petting and hugging Blaze. Mom noted Tommy's brilliant smile. She hadn't seen him this happy in a while.
The elderly lady next door was looking out her window. She had an odd puzzled look on her face because she could not see the horse. When Tommy waved at her, she smiled and waved back.
"Think she is freaking out now?" Mom asked Tommy, "Wait till Blaze runs through her screen door!"
They both laughed.