After earning an advanced degree in literature, Mel Goldberg taught in California, Illinois, Arizona, and as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Cambridgeshire, England. For seven years, he traveled in a small motorhome throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.He currently lives in the village of Ajijic in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, but maintains a Texas, US, address for convenience.
In the Land of the Houyhnhnms
When Leona was eight, her parents took her to visit a friend’s farm. The horses in the pasture were gentle and friendly and nuzzled her hand when she brought them apples. She talked to them each day and they were good listeners. She decided she wanted to be a horse when she grew up.
Her mother was an editor for an educational publisher. Her father, a package designer, had told her that to be good at something, she had to practice. So she prepared by galloping through the house, imagining how it would be out on the plains, taking graceful strides, running free with her hair flowing behind her.
Her mother said, “You’re a little girl, and little girls cannot grow up to be horses. You must grow up to be a woman. Fortunately, you live in times where you can be anything you want.”
“I want to be a horse.”
“Except a horse. You can go to college and become a teacher or an executive at a large corporation. You can even be a doctor and help people.”
In high school Leona took aptitude tests. Her counselor told her she was good with language and critical thinking. “Maybe you should study law. Lawyers make more money than most people.”
Leona thought about what her counselor said. Making money seemed to be a good thing. Like her mother, she wanted to get married one day and have a family. So Leona went to school and became a lawyer. For several years she argued cases for poor people and rich people. Arguing cases made her feel good. She believed she was helping people.
At a law seminar she met William, a man who was a teacher and also a lawyer. They got married and opened a law practice representing people who didn’t have much money. Leona and her husband didn’t become wealthy but they made a comfortable living and raised two sons.
Years passed and their sons left home and started families of their own. Several years after Leona and William retired, William died. Living alone in the large house, Leona began to feel lost. Often she spent the entire day in her nightgown. Her white hair grew long and she started to forget things.
There were times she forgot to eat. She forgot to lock her doors at night. She began to forget more and more, like her children’s names or where they lived. She forgot the names of her grandchildren.
One day a thought entered her mind. She remembered the vacation she took with her parents many years before. She remembered what her father had told her. She took a bus out of the city and got off near a big meadow.
She crawled through the split-log fence and ran across the field, tossing her head up and down, her long white hair trailing behind her. She whinnied with her friends and waited for the little girl with the apples.