The Prancing and Pawing of Each Little Hoof
By Jeff Baker
I wasn’t going home for Christmas that year, and I was working so I didn’t mind. I had decorated my room with a few Christmas cards and a cheap plastic Nutcracker ornament I’d bought at a convenience store. I also had a bathroom and a fridge and stove so I wasn’t complaining too loudly. I had two days off the 24th or 25th so I was stuck in the apartment with the radio and TV. Nothing but stale TV shows and so I kept the radio on low to the station that played Christmas music and heated a TV dinner Christmas Eve to go with the six-pack of beer I’d bought. I hit the sack early, for once not disturbed by the neighbors being loud. A lot of them had gone somewhere else.
I woke up after midnight. It was dark, but there was a glistening light coming through the window. I looked out, still pretty groggy, to find that it had snowed. Not a lot, just an inch of cover or so, and so I opened up the window and looked out. It was quiet. Totally still. Totally clear. I looked up at the stars. Some of them even seemed to twinkle and I could see their colors; some yellowish, some blue. When I was younger, I knew a lot about the constellations, so I tried to pick a few of them out. I could see the Great Square of Pegasus, but I stopped and blinked. Was I looking in the right direction? I remembered Pegasus being over there, not there.
As I listened, I heard a wind blowing but no trees were stirring, and I didn’t feel as much as hint of breeze.
Then I heard the distant clattering of hooves and faint voices.
“He’s ahead of us, Equuleus!” That was another voice.
“Of course he’s ahead, Monoceros; he’s Pegasus,” said the first voice.
“I’m not buying into all his talk!,” came the second voice. “He doesn’t really have wings! I’ll come in first this year!”
And then, from far off, came a third faint voice as I saw two smaller groupings of stars move in behind the great square.
“Noooooooot thiiiiiiiis yeeeeeeear!”
“So you won,” said the first voice. “Now, back into our places before somebody notices.”
I heard distant laughter and blinked again, and the constellations were back where they belonged. Either that or I had woken up. I shut the window and headed back to bed.
In my dreams, I saw glittering horses racing across a starry sky.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: A Christmas story for all the stargazers out there. And Happy Holidays to all my wonderful readers!