The Silver Horse
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by Elizabeth Lynn
Description: Seeing the Silver Horse as a cute toy, Susannah gives it to her brother, Niall, as a present. One night Susannah awakens and finds neither her brother nor the Silver Horse; racing to the park, she sees her brother riding not a toy, but a stunning stallion. Susannah, Niall, and the horse are whisked away to a land unseen and unknown. This is how this unforgettable adventure through fantasy and lost toys begins. Now, lost in the Realm of Dreams, Susannah must fight for her brother or he will forget his entire life as a human.
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 1984 e-reads
eBookwise Release Date: July 2002
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [137 KB]
Reading time: 88-124 min.
Susannah sat looking out her bedroom window at the park.
You're too old to play with toys, she told herself silently. Much too old.
Beyond the green square park she could just see the skyscrapers of San Francisco. They seemed shiny and clean against the sky of brilliant blue. Sometimes Susannah could look at them and pretend that they were not steel skyscrapers but silver and gold and crystal towers.
Not today, she thought. They look like fence posts today.
Her nose itched, the way it did when she wanted to cry and wouldn't. Rubbing it, she turned her back to the window and looked across the room. Her brother's purple toy chest sat beside his bed, lid down. The wooden silver horse--Niall was crazy about horses--stood on top.
The horse had been a birthday present. Susannah's best friend's mother, Celie, had found it in a thrift store, scraped it clean of its flaking black paint and repainted it with silver glitter. As its proud mane and arrogant pricked ears caught the light, they sparkled like sunshine on the sea. It had only been in the house three days, but it made Susannah's things--her checked bedspread, her pictures on the wall, even the bright fantastic jackets on her books--look shabby.
Niall was so pleased with it that he had stuffed all his other toys out of sight.
There was one thing in the room the horse couldn't make shabby. Crossing to her bed, Susannah reached beneath it and pulled out her new paint box. She had saved her allowance money all year and had bought it for herself. Her parents had bought her a real sable brush to go with it. It had forty colors in it. There had only been twelve colors in her old paint box.
Hugging the paint box, Susannah walked to the horse. I bet I could draw you, she told it. Horses were hard to draw. The difficult part would be the head, with all the delicate detail of lips and eyes and ears. It would be hard, too, to show the way the muscles ran on the graceful arching neck. The musculature, Susannah repeated to herself. She had just learned the word. The horse had very clear musculature.
Niall wandered into the room. "What are you doing?" he whined. Without waiting for her answer, he shouted, "Ma, Susannah's bothering my horse!"
"I'm not bothering your old horse," Susannah said. "How could I bother him, he's just wood!" Shoving the new paint box under the bed, she jammed her fists into her pockets and went into the hallway. She had made a secret vow that she wouldn't fight with Niall, no matter how snotty he was, for a week after his birthday, and she knew if she stayed in the bedroom she would break her promise.
Had she been that snotty when she was six years old?
She doubted it. But when she was six, Niall was one year old. He was kind of cute then. And they hadn't had to share a room; he had slept in her parents' room, in a crib. One thing you could say about school; in school they didn't have to be together the whole day as they were now. Almost Susannah regretted that there was no school.
But she didn't want to be in school. She just wanted Niall to be in school.
The door at the end of the hallway was open a little. "Mother?" she said.
"I'm here," said her mother's voice from the other side of the door. Susannah pulled the door further open and stuck her head around it. Her mother turned around. "Hey," she said. "Come outside."
Susannah slid through the opening. Her mother was sitting on the top landing with her feet on the steps. Carefully, because the steps were splintery and because she was barefoot, Susannah climbed down two steps, sat, and leaned against her mother's legs.
Her mother's name was Bonnie. She was tall, with golden hair that she wore in braids or piled on top of her head. She liked to cook and she liked to dance. But she hadn't gone out dancing in a long time, because she was going to have a baby. She had been going to have a baby since Christmas. Susannah had heard her say once to Celie that she liked having babies, she liked the feel of being pregnant. Celie, who had been pregnant at the time, said, "I don't!" Susannah didn't think she would like it much, walking around all puffed out in front and not wearing blue jeans.
But she wondered what it felt like, being pregnant.
Her mother skipped her fingers over the top of Susannah's head. "Hey, Susie-pooh. How you doing?"
"Okay," Susannah said. She rested her chin on her arms. "Mother?"
"When will the baby come out?" She had been told. But it was hard for her sometimes to keep track of months.
"In September. This is June. June to July, July to August, August to September." She walked her fingers over the top of Susannah's head again. "A Virgo kid."
Susannah knew what that meant, sort of. It meant that the planets and stars that were in the sky the day you were born made you act in certain ways as you got older. Mother read about it in the paper every morning.
Susannah had asked Mr. Gonzalez, her teacher, about astrology. He had said that the stars and planets were so far away that they couldn't make anyone do anything.
Susannah rubbed her cheek on her mother's leg. "Am I a Virgo kid?" she asked.
Her mother stroked her hair. "You're a Gemini. Niall, too. That's why you fight all the time."
Susannah pressed her lips together. She didn't want to tell her mother about her vow. Not yet.
"Hey," her mother said, "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," Susannah said. "I was thinking about astrology."
Her mother looked at her with an odd expression. Then she turned to glance through into the front hall. "Niall's being too quiet. You know where he is?"
Oh, who cares, Susannah thought. "He's playing with his horse."
"The new one? Good. Maybe he'll stay quiet for a while."
Hah, Susannah thought. Bet he won't.
Suddenly her mother put her hand on her belly. "Woo."
"What?" Susannah said.
"The baby kicked!" Her mother beckoned. "Come up next to me." Susannah moved up to sit beside her mother. "Feel."
Susannah stretched out her hand. Her mother took it and guided it to a place on her belly. Susannah felt a sharp quiver against her palm.
"Uh huh." Susannah swallowed. "Does it hurt?"
"What does it feel like?"
Her mother laughed. "It feels like a burp."
"Oh." Suddenly Susannah felt it again. Like a baby chicken, she thought, pecking at a shell. That made her feel strange. Jerking her hand away, she rubbed it on her knee.
Her mother touched her cheek softly. "Hey, Susie-pooh," she said. "You know, there's a live person in there. Toes and ears and a heart and everything, almost ready to come out."
"I know that," Susannah said, annoyed. She had seen pictures and knew what babies looked like before they were born.
"Which would you prefer," her mother said, "a boy or a girl?"
I don't want it at all, Susannah thought. But she couldn't say that.
Babies were babies: they cried and were wet all the time. There was a baby on the street already: Juanito, Danielle's brother. She wondered if a little sister would be as much hassle as a brother. "I don't care."
"Mmm," said her mother. She stretched her arms above her head. "Are we out of milk?"
Susannah tried to picture the inside of the refrigerator as she had seen it last. "I don't remember."
"Would you look?"
"Okay." She went in. The house seemed very dark. The kitchen tile was cool on her bare feet. She opened the refrigerator.
There were usually two big gallon containers of milk on the middle shelf. There was one there now. She reached in and took it out. It was very light.
"Merow," said a voice near the ground. Something warm and soft and furry brushed her left leg.
"Hello, Mr. D," she said.
The big square orange cat butted his head on her knee. "Mowr," he said.
"I know what you want." Susannah took his water bowl from its place and put it on the kitchen table. Then she poured the rest of the milk--it was only a tiny bit--into the bowl. "Come on," she whispered.
Mr. D jumped to the table top. Purring, he folded himself up beside the bowl and drank. Susannah put the empty container in the pantry and went out. "There was a little left," she said. "I gave it to Mr. D."
"Dad can get more tomorrow. But we'll need some tonight. Would you go to the store and get a quart?" Mother dug into her pocket and brought out a dollar. "Bring me the change."
"All right," Susannah said. Putting the dollar into her own pocket, she started down the steps.
"Put something on your feet!"
Her thongs were in the front hall. Wriggling her toes into them, Susannah went down the steps. Her mother waved from the top.