‘I do not ride.’ I shook my head. ‘I want one that is slow.’
I couldn’t speak the lingo, but I’d watched ‘’Allo ’Allo’.
I felt the French girls sniggered and had masterminded fatwas.
‘You take ze ’orse zat’s at ze back. ’E’s young . . .’is name is Matoise.’
‘But what about a chapeau?’ I pointed to my head.
The girls threw back their têtes and laughed. My fate was viande dead.
Matoise was their accomplice; his eyes betrayed a smirk.
An entertaining novice! How he loved to taunt a berk.
Unladylike, I threw a leg and landed in the saddle.
My rump, untethered, slid about. I was up the creek, sans paddle.
The group set off in front of me in the languid summer heat.
I heard their chit-chat fade away as Matoise stopped to eat.
I kicked my heels as jockeys do and flapped the stringy reins,
but Matoise was on hors d’oeuvres and had yet to start his mains.
Finally, he raised his head and, like a bull, he stamped,
then took off like a thunderbolt! My muscle-mode was CLAMPED.
I yanked his reins to slow him down, but he raced with nose to sky,
and dragged me under branches which, of rider-height, were shy.
‘Stop, Matoise!’ I bellowed as he galloped t’wards a trench
. . . then changed it to ‘Arrêtez-vous’, recalling he was French.
Finally, our leader cut through my line of sight,
raised her eyes, snatched my reins and, muttering, pulled tight.
She led us to the trekkers, still plodding at their leisure,
and she and Matoise shared a wink of pure sadistic pleasure.
The day was done, the dismounts made, my hair was in a mess,
my face was scratched, my shoulders ached. I feigned a lack of stress.
I waved adieu and thanked them all, despite my dreadful pain,
and for the next three awful days, I walked just like John Wayne.
When life throws up the unexpected, Helen Laycock casts it in rhyme (much to the embarrassment of her Muse/husband). She writes serious poetry, too, as well as fiction. Details of her short stories and flash can be found here and information about her children’s books can be found here.