I confronted her over Christmas break. My mother threw a pair of earmuffs over my father’s head so he wouldn’t hear us argue. Said I was breaking his heart. Dad flicked the muffs off, neighing, stomping, and scratching the hell out of our hardwood floors. “Do you want to be taken away by Child Protective Services?” my mother had threatened, “because they wanted to take you before and I’m sure their offer still stands!” She looked at me, as though expecting me to be as surprised as she was. As much as I pitied myself for my predicament, I pitied her too. I did. It’s hard enough for two males to get hitched and start a family, let alone two separate species. My mother had always been a hopeless romantic, stupid that way. She used to say she waited her whole life for Prince Charming and his horse to come. It was a big joke, of course, that when he finally did, she kicked off the good Prince and apologized to her new husband and rode him off into the sunset. A true fairy tale!

I spent countless hours in the library, checking out slews of self-help books, desperate to understand the matters of the heart. To my dismay though, I found nothing that fit. My mother wasn’t a narcissist, she wasn’t schizophrenic, and she was no pedophile; there was no known reason why a grown woman would wed livestock. It wouldn’t matter if I’d corrected her with ever fact that made my conception improbable: I walked on two legs, not four; I didn’t have his hair, his teeth, or his muscular frame; and I certainly didn’t trot, neigh, or prance. She’d have denied it to the end.

And it didn’t change the fact that I loved him. Even if I couldn’t believe he was my biological ancestor any longer. In my attempt to understand how any of this could have happened, I continued probing my mother (something I, in retrospect, now regret). I was sure there was an explanation for what provoked this. You know, maybe Grandma had beaten her. Or Grand-Pappy was an alcoholic or something. Hell, he could guzzle malt liquor with the best of them.

But no, the only thing I got out of her was that it had been an astrological fate, my parents’ union. Because he was a Sagittarius and the horse-man had come to her in a dream, and told her he was her son. It didn’t matter I contradicted her, she’d never had a boy, she’d had me. She still believed the nonsense. She spoke candidly of her own adolescence, the fantasies she’d had since puberty: that the whole lot of characters from Bambi had come to her house to be serviced by her, or, other times she fantasized about having orgies with the cast of Cavalia. She thought of herself as a new age Noah, the dirty-female version, but without the Ark. I know, horrific! And there was no shutting her up once she got talking – truly, you cannot imagine how I regretted having asked her anything having to sit through this. Surely, she was bonkers! She even had the audacity to suggest I have a look at the homemade porn-video they’d made, for research. I declined, of course. I’m sure finding a normal parents’ sex tape would profoundly mess me up, let alone seeing my mother and her horse go at it.

I tried to move past it, unsuccessfully, of course. Post-graduation, I secured a good job. I started dating, but I wasn’t very good at it, always afraid my new beau might stumble upon a family photo or something. I sought therapy too; plenty of it, but not even my therapists could take me seriously. They prescribed me a list of anti-psychotics – sure I was the one who was mentally ill…

And then he died. As to be expected, my mother was forlorn. Dad was gunned down, no vet able to revive him, and the real crime is the case still isn’t considered a homicide. I know, such a thing could hardly be considered manslaughter, but can you really blame either of us for wanting justice? I know, I know, I deserve it, I spent so much time being angry and what-have-you, but he was my father! My mother mourned, as any widow would. We had him laid to rest in our meadow, no casket, and no formaldehyde. We know who did it, the neighbor, one of those right-wing conservative pricks. His formal identity has been kept quiet by police, despite his confession. The truth is the justice system is as ill-prepared for my mother’s stories as I was. It’s a charade, I tell you. The killer isn’t going to prison, there’ll be no trial, and rather than being subjected to media scrutiny for his misdeeds, it’s our family being ridiculed in the press.

My digitally enhanced picture now graces the pages of tabloids everywhere, with heinous headlines like: Beware! Mr. Ed’s long lost daughter – she has hoofs and hee-haws at strangers! I’m sure you’ve even seen a few by now. Probably even have this idea in your head as to who I am, how I look, whatever version their currently selling of my sorted history. If only you could see me without those hideous horse ears, mane, and ghastly teeth they’ve given me. That’s why I’ve sought you out, kind readers. I ask you not believe this rubbish! All I want is for the sensationalism of the story to diminish. No, I’m not opening my own circus side-show, I promise you. No, I’m not seeking artificial insemination, meeting with a genographer, and I’m surely not preparing to sell my nine little incubated horse-babies on E-bay, going by names like Clover, Buttercup, Meadow, or any other My Little Pony references the press can concoct!

My mother married the beast. I was just an innocent bystander. All anyone wants is to make a mockery of my father’s life. Hairy Stallion, har, har, har! I know the drill, in time it’ll become nothing more than an old urban legend passed down through the generations. No one in their right mind will believe it was ever true. Mom will die. And I’ll still be the girl wondering if having a horse as a father was proper. But it doesn’t matter. Don’t you understand? I’m just a girl without a father. That’s the only story here, the real one.

Sure, I may have doubted his paternity, but never did I doubt his love for me. When I was a baby, he rocked me to sleep, carrying my bassinette on his back. He ate my vegetables when I protested them, as a child. He was the only father I knew who could gamble on himself at the racetrack. He always listened to me, no matter how long I rambled on to him. And I could break curfew anytime I wanted and still get a ride home! He loved me. So what if he was a horse, right? There are worse things in this world. Like if your dad was a serial killer, a child molester, or worse.

My father could have been a pelican, a grizzly bear, a wallaby, or a potato bug for all I cared. As long as he loved and protected me, that’s all that matters in the end. And so that’s all I have to say.


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