The mighty metal horse

This is the last part of a three part story, set again in my fictional village of Angle Mort.  In the first part, ‘The thing which happened last year’, Zandra talks about her family, and gives the background to why she has gone to stay  for the summer with her aunty, Jo. Inn the next episode  Zandra and Jo  go for a picnic at a place called Horse Grave; Zan falls asleep in the sun and dreams of a giant metal horse. The third episode is quite long, so split it into two – this is the final, final part of the story.

It must have been the cider, or dozing in the sun, or being away from home and the thoughts I’d been having about what I was going to do in September – and also an underlying other thought about home – but when we got back to Jo’s, after dinner I fell asleep on the settee.
It had been ok in the pub, we talked about music, she liked a Russian band called Lumen from Ufa. Called what? I said, Ufa, capital of Bashkortostan and I burst out laughing not knowing if it was a joke. The joke was, it wasn’t!
We talked about stuff and had a laugh, but I began to sense something with Jo, I’m not sure quite what. We walked back across the triangle of the village green and along to her house, and there seemed a strange tension – was she wishing she hadn’t invited me? That I hadn’t come? But I didn’t think that was it.
It was safe to talk about the pub; I didn’t want to talk any more about me, I had strange thoughts about Horse Grave and my nightmare – nightmare ha! It wasn’t night and it wasn’t a mare!
I had asked about the people who went in the pub, wondering if there might be some my age, she spoke about the regulars, the pub bore who was actually a very kindly person, the Welsh poser’, Kitty Marsh, a girl about my age, the last was mentioned so casually I got a whiff of a coincidental meeting at some point.

After dinner, pasta and cheese sauce, we had another awkward sort of conversation, what I was going to do after I left school – and I mentioned that I’d had a sudden inspiration to English not dance, and our conversation brightened up a bit.
Was I going to stay on at school? Well, actually, no. I had burnt that boat with the demonstration and the vigil – and then she asked what she had been working up to asking, how were things at home? I’d been working up to telling her but somehow I couldn’t.
All that I said here at the beginning of this, about Mum and Steven, making it sound as if all’s well, all sweetness and light, which is what I overheard Steven say to one of his friends about me – ‘to see Zan you’d think she’s all sweetness and light, but…’ He was horrified by the vigil, called it an attention seeking stunt. A guy had died!! Our vigil was no stunt! It wasn’t about us!!!
Well, if I was older or if I had the money, and if I didn’t care about upsetting mum, then I would leave home.
It shows what sort of person Jo is that when I answered her in a fudgy sort of way about things at home, it’s ok, not too bad – that she didn’t press me.
We were both silent. The TV was on some nature thing but we weren’t really watching. I was looking at the bangle she’d given me, the dark shiny metal, the deep set stones, thinking about Zandra the warrior queen … and then I fell asleep.

I woke up with my head full of peculiar stuff, dreams, things from this afternoon, strange images – a big sign which said ‘Welcome to Angle Mort, you won’t regret it’, the mighty metal horse telling me in Russian that it came from Bashkortostan, me standing in the doorway of the old pub which wasn’t a pub in my dream, waving a mighty sword made of the same metal as my bracelet… real full-on weird stuff.
Jo laughed when I tried to tell her about it, and a deer on the green – well, a hart actually, and she made us a cup of tea before we went up to bed.
“Zan, I know I was supposed to wait, but I just can’t. I’m no good at secrets!” she suddenly burst out. Had she got a boyfriend? Was she moving house? Never in a million years would I guess what she said next. “I know things are tricky at home at the moment… well, would you like to stay with me for a while? If it’s OK, there’s a sixth-form college in Angle Reach, you could do you’re a-levels there, they teach all the subjects you’re interested in…”
You know they say about could have been knocked down by a feather? Well, if there had been the tiniest piece of fluff floating about, it could have knocked me right down.
“Damn! I shouldn’t have said anything yet, I shouldn’t have sprung it on you, Zan!”
I swear I heard a horse outside, a big hoof pawing the ground – or maybe I mean hoofing the ground.
“Jo, that would be – well, just brilliant! Yes, that would be amazing!”
And so it was. You can imagine our conversation, and I joked and said I’d better meet Kitty Marsh as no doubt she’d be on the bus to Angle Reach.
Jo helped me carry my stuff up to my room – she’d put me in the room at the back, the bigger room. My mind was reeling, suddenly my life was changing. It was like a big wheel, which had begun to slowly turn.
“You can’t make it out properly now, but you can just see it in the moonlight, look, Zan, can you see Horse Grave?”
I could just see the curve of it under the night sky, I could just make out a warrior queen standing by her giant metal horse waving her sword at me.

I gave myself a little mini-challenge when I wrote the first part, of including words from an Octordle, puzzle, and I’ve repeated it with each section. Here are my Octordles for this part:

  • teach, whiff, stunt, kitty, marsh, lumen, welsh, poser

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