They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Billie was thirteen to Mike’s fourteen. He was twisting his hands in his lap as they drove to Mike’s aunt’s. He was small for his age, due to a string of illnesses in elementary school. He always seem too young as well, but Mike never minded. Billie had walked half a mile every day for two weeks to see Mike and his sick mother the June before.

Mike could never forget that.

They were pulling into the driveway now. Mike’s aunt was thirty-four and lived on a farm. Her name was Allison and she immediately pushed Billie and Mike toward the table where freshly made chocolate chip cookies were waiting. Mike’s blue eyes rolled at the all too-sweet gesture, but Billie’s hand slowly reached out and took one. Sighing, Mike did the same, knowing Billie’s insecurities would cause him to not talk for an hour if he thought he had done something wrong.

Mike’s mother was working an extra shift at the hospital which had lead to Billie and Mike being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Within fifteen minutes, the pair was poking their heads in everywhere they shouldn’t have been. Allison had a fifteen-year-old daughter who appeared out of the house. Her name was Karen and she had brown hair and green eyes. She lead them to the horse barn where Billie nearly melted at the prospect of petting a baby colt.

Mike slumped against the wall, openly scowling. Karen paid him no attention as she was used to the antics of teenage boys and Billie was too busy petting the colt to notice. Karen told him it’s name was Shine and gave him pieces of carrot to feed to it.

Mike was peering through the barely open door of the barn. The horse had a broken leg. That was easy enough to see. It had grey hairs around it’s eyes. Did horses get grey hairs he wondered. His slipped through the door. Billie and Karen didn’t notice.

Mike’s uncle saw the teenager, but said nothing. After all, his own son was there and he was a year younger than Mike. One of the other men looked at Mike, who shrugged and leaned against the wall of the barn. He knew. He understood.

When Mike found Billie, the younger boy was sitting on the porch swing, toes dragging on the wooden planks of the porch. He looked up at Mike before lowering his head. Mike took a deep breath before sitting down next to his best friend. His hand found Billie’s and they sat there like that for a moment.

“You watched it.”

A tear fell from a blue eye.