Pink Horse

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Object No. 93 of 100

[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Kate Bernheimer, has ended. Original price: $1. Final price: $104.50.]

A long time ago, I was very poor and often traded my body for cigarettes, Chelada, or food (in order of preference). I had two children — both daughters — and together we lived in a motel on the coast. It was a knotty-pine kitchenette cabin, and came furnished with a teapot, a few chipped flowered plates, some utensils, and bedding. The cabin overlooked a paved parking lot and beyond it, the beach. If a man came to visit, I sent my youngest girl out to find driftwood and starfish and shells. (Her sister was in kindergarten, so always gone in the morning.) There was no market for these trinkets among tourists; but they were precious to my little girls, truly their only possessions. We washed them and kept them along the edge of the porch rail and inside, on the white windowsills, which otherwise were very empty, apart from a pink horse my youngest had found in the woods. That pink horse! How she loved it. Once when she had gone a very long way to gather her treasures — all the way under a natural tunnel inside the cliffs, which led to a narrow beach that would trap you and kill you if you were stuck there during high tide — an old woman with pink hair approached her and sang her a song. My daughter told me about this old woman, but I didn’t believe her. Later that week, my girl brought home a sea urchin, closed. She said that when the sea urchin opened, the old woman would return and that she had promised then to bring us good luck. I got an empty jar from the cupboard — it had once been full of beach plum jelly but had long been gathering dust. We walked down to the edge of the ocean and filled it with water. Back in the cabin, we placed the closed sea urchin carefully into the water, where it sank and stayed closed. The next morning my littlest girl didn’t wake up and the sea urchin had bloomed. It was on her grave that my other daughter placed the pink horse. Then she too was taken — by the high tide — the very same week. She’d gone into the magic tunnel. Now I do nothing but drink Chelada all day, haunted by pink. Pink urchins, pink cigarettes. Pink horse, pink horse, pink horse on the grave — if ever the pink horse flies into the sky, your daughters will come back to life. The pink-haired old woman sang that to me once when I passed out in the sand. For now, there you stand in the dark of the wood — beautiful, all-powerful, and silent. Pink horse, you are everything, and everything is everlasting in you.



Kate Bernheimer is the author of two novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold, a story collection, Horse, Flower, Bird (forthcoming), and a children's book, The Girl in The Castle inside The Museum. She also edits fairy-tale anthologies, and founded and edits the journal Fairy Tale Review.

10 thoughts on “Pink Horse

  1. Fantastic! This makes me like you even more than I already do. I can see why you were attracted to the pink, feathery, fancy horsey. He is wearing blue eyeshadow and he’s shiny. It’s a “he” right? Snort, snort.

  2. Your piece makes me want to write something…Of course, I just had a shot of tequila with a PBR. We are celebrating Ken’s 51st b-day and Trudy lost her 1st tooth today! I feel like all of today has been a pink-horsey moment.

  3. I will be donating proceeds from the sale of this story and pink horse to adoption agency and humanitarian organization Wide Horizons for Children, specifically to their Waiting Children Program. Buy a pink horse and sad story, help find a child a forever-home . . . Thank you, Significant Objects, for this chance.

  4. Kate has a really beautiful mission. I wish she knew some Brazilian Tales. There’s a lot of tales that came from Europe with the immigrants but took new shapes while spreading around (here the tradition at nights was to get children together and tell stories).

    But there’s a lot of tales from native origins too. The Yanomami tribes have a lot of primitive tales about their own origin. They’re so intriguing that reminds me of the “collective unconscious” described by Jung.

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