I still remember the day I learned dreams can come true.
I must have been 7 or 8 and my dad, little brother and I drove to a surprise destination on my birthday.
We arrived at the stockyard and my new horse was led out.
It was the best day of my life.
He was dark brown, small and kind of skinny with big ears but I didn’t care, he was a horse.
I had dreamed of a horse for as long as I could remember. A soon as I could read I devoured the Misty of Chincoteague books and filled my room with toy horses.
It’s a good thing my new horse was dark brown because he had been named Midnight in my imagination long before I ever met him.
Midnight was taken to live at a farm up the road from our house.
I still remember the farmer putting him out in the pasture.
“You got yerself a jackass here,” he muttered, watching from the fence as Midnight milled about the field.
“Yup, that horse is half jackass,” he said.
“Daddy, what’s a jackass? I asked.
“It is an ass like we read about in the bible. Like a horse but not as smart,” he said.
“But Midnight is smart isn’t he Daddy?” I queried, deeply offended.
“Of course he is honey. He’s just a grumpy old farmer,” he said quietly, trying to soothe me.
In hindsight, I think Midnight was part jackass. My father, trying to fulfill my biggest dream, had gotten me the horse at an auction. I have never had the heart to ask what he paid for him but I’m sure it wasn’t much.
Since we didn’t have a horse trailer, my dad would drive to the farm to pick him up on the weekends and we would cruise home at a top speed of 10 mph, my dad holding the lead out the window as Midnight chugged alongside the car.
Once home, my father would find a tree to tie him to and then leave me to play with my horse.
Things weren’t quite what I had pictured in my imagination. My images of an Indian princes galloping across the plains on her painted horse or riding along the beach on my wild pony with the wind whipping through our manes just didn’t quite fit.
Instead I had a scrawny horse with big ears tied to a tree in my front yard.
And we didn’t have any tack for him, only the lead rope and halter he came with. I don’t think I ever even rode him.
He became more like a big puppy to me than a horse.
Midnight and I would traipse around the yard and sit and talk for hours.
I even took him in the house once — only once.
I was in the kitchen fetching carrots and Midnight wandered over to my dad, who was taking a nap on the couch. I didn’t see what happened, only heard the yelling.
My dad woke up to Midnight standing over him and that was the last time the horse came inside.
Eventually the neighbor complained Midnight was going to sully the well we shared by just hanging out in the yard, so he spent more and more time at the farm.
My dad told me things weren’t working out so well with Midnight and it was time to sell him.
I cried and cried, but I knew he was right.
I vaguely remember the dusty, dark building where I said goodbye to Midnight. My dad said he was sold for about $20.
I pined for decades before I finally bought my Sancha, followed by two handsome geldings.
But I’ve never forgotten that a jackass, too, can make dreams come true.
Sharna Johnson is a staff writer for Freedom New Mexico. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org