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Horses in the Wind

Esther Teichtal

Once you passed a certain age, he maintained, learning was an indulgence to be reserved for the early hours of the morning, and a little more at night — before, or after, one worked up a sweat to earn one’s daily bread. How could I argue with that? He had given me all I had.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

horses

Photo: Shutterstock

My wife spots them before I do. I am too busy navigating the four-lane highway saturated with late afternoon traffic. Grabbing the dashboard, Tzila lets out a yelp. “Isaac… watch out!” Pointing somewhere to the left of me, a string of garbled invectives follow. 

There they are, literally, in my face. “What on—?!” My windscreen fills with cantering beasts — a tight-knit band of four — muscles rippling, tails swinging, and foaming at the bit, with their coats glinting in the unforgiving sunlight as they forge ahead. Blithely oblivious to the oncoming traffic, their manes unfurl behind them, like pennants blowing in the wind. Slamming on my brakes, I avert a collision by nanoseconds. Fellow drivers before and to the side of me sound their horns loudly as they do the same, forming an instant clog of traffic that brings us all to a crawl. The horses fly by. I turn my head, straining to follow the procession. 

“Do you think they’ve escaped from a zoo, or something?” Tzila wonders, her palm stilling a wildly pounding heart. 

“I’ve no idea. More likely a traveling circus. Weird, eh?” Surely, this must be the most incongruous sight I have ever set my eyes upon on an intercity highway. 

“Do you think we should alert the authorities?” Tzila asks, not letting it go. 

“You can if you want. I’m late for Minchah.” 

“Well… I feel lucky to be alive, Isaac. Do we need to bentsh gomel?”

Photo: Shutterstock

I can’t say. Still, Tzila spends the rest of the ride home describing the incident to incredulous police officers. 

Truthfully, that should be the end of it. Except it isn’t; that night, I dream of Avshalom and wake in a cold sweat. 

It comes as a relief to focus on work the next morning. Shoulders squared, I hoist myself onto my well-worn stool and lean over my workbench. I unwind the plaid package that arrived by yesterday’s courier, eager to see what the new client has sent me. When Mr. Bar-Lev phoned last week, he promised it would be something special. No kidding. This watch is a beauty. A Jaquet Droz, part of their Les Ateliers d’Art series. Stroking its crocodile strap with my thumb, I cradle its gold case in the palm of my hand. There aren’t many like these. A limited edition — only eighty-eight pieces ever manufactured. As I raise the mother-of-pearl plate to the light, a misty surrealism floats over me. Again. My horse. A magnificently hand-carved rose gold mount decorates the dial plate, rearing high on his hind legs and pawing at my memories. He taunts me.

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