Read an Excerpt from Corrina Carter’s “In the Foaling Barn” in AJ 2015 ON SALE NOWPosted: June 22, 2015
From Corrina Carter’s “In the Foaling Barn,” 2015 Fiction Finalist
Robert Palton, who lived several miles from Live Oak Road and was eight when Mrs. Burns’ mare died, was among the children who had visited her regularly. He first became conscious of death while staring into the pit at her ruptured forehead. Unable to temper the unnaturalness of the figure sprawled on the bottom of the ditch with memories of an animal that, in life, had made him long for her pink tongue to sweep sugar from his palms, he began to associate horses with mortality. While his peers either existed in an uncritical state that did not allow for morbid concerns or feared conventional harbingers of death—reapers clad in hoods that augmented their facelessness and angels washed in an artificial glow—Robert dreaded the appearance of an equine ghost. It was gray, like Mrs. Burns’ mare. The boy imagined that everyone saw it before he or she died. It materialized in a field of threadbare grass, gazing directly at its victim. Unlike the tropical fish Robert had observed in the home of his pet obsessed neighbors, the Halsteds, which tapered into vertical footballs when viewed head-on, the horse fattened as it faced forward. It was not noble or fierce, but a beast worn by labor, its muzzle hanging between the raggedy balls of its knees, its ears pinned so neatly that they disappeared into the ridge of its neck. Even the white-lashed eyes were flat with apathy. Sometimes when Robert was woken by an illusion of falling during the night, it seemed that his bed had transformed into rolling vistas of horse’s hair, growing forever, doubling back to wrap him in silver filaments, as if he were a silkworm struggling to burst from his pupal casing.