I just can’t get away from The Green Horse! I’ve revised the story by changing point of view to first person. I think this change makes for a more intimate, compelling, story than the original third person point of view. What do you think?
I saw the green horse everywhere. On street corners, in yards, standing outside the grocery store. I knew the horse was a figment of my imagination, or, more precisely, a neurochemical manifestation. When I was taking my medication regularly, I could accept the horse as an hallucination, but a remnant of believability always stuck with me.
When off my meds, the green horse didn’t appear like a cartoon character or mystical like a unicorn, but reasonably real. The horse was awash in a light green hue, as if he had been dipped in a vat of Rit dye. When he was beside me, I could touch the horse and feel his soft pelt under my hand. The horse had an alfalfa and oats scent topped with peppermint. His skin was cool to the touch, but not cold.
When I was appropriately medicated, I missed the green horse. When I was off my meds or had skipped a dose, the horse reappeared and I reveled in delight. I would spot him standing outside Macy’s on 5th avenue and our game of chase and evade would ensue. I could spend whole days trying to keep up with the horse as he sauntered, galloped, disappeared, and was revealed again. The horse walked easily through crowds that did not recognize him. Eventually, he would appear alongside me, snuffling through his nose and grunting horse words.
In many ways, the green horse kept me sane when I wasn’t. He was a comfort. The only one I could communicate with when no one else understood me. We played games, chase, and he allowed me to touch his twitching muscles, scratch him behind the ears, and lean on his strong body with my cheek to his neck. The green horse was the most stable of entities I could imagine.
I hoped that others could see him, that they could share in the joy of a green horse. I tried to tell others about the horse. I walked the streets and would see someone who looked like he had just seen a ghost, but I knew it was the horse he saw. In crowds, when the horse was near, I would eagerly catch someone by the sleeve and try to place their hand on the horse. Sometimes I saw recognition in their eyes, sometimes I saw sympathy. Most of the time people violently pulled their hands away from mine and cursed.
I had run-ins with the mounted police. I was sure a horse rider could see the green horse or at least sense its presence, the scent of mint lingering in the air. When I told them about the green horse, they would look at each other and snicker. Sure, we can see your green horse and your purple dinosaur too! I was suspicious of anyone who discounted my vision of the green horse. I was little more than a nuisance to them, but they would let me pet their horses.
Trailing the horse through a trendy district one day, I had to urinate on the street. Either that or wet myself. The green horse was up ahead, turning a corner so, I hurried. I ran to keep up with the horse, but someone was chasing me. It was a police officer, running after me running after the horse. Peeing in the street was an offense of some kind, I later learned. The officer to not slow down as he got closer and the impact of our colliding bodies was severe. Stunned, I passed out.
I woke up in the county hospital. I came into the ER with many broken bones and internal bleeding. I went in and out of consciousness, dreaming of the green horse, but never seeing him. They told me I would be transferred to a mental health facility, for my own safety, as if I had intentionally sacked myself in the middle of the street.
At Emerald Cognitive Care, I was put on meds that made me sleepy and dull, but lucid. I didn’t see the green horse anywhere in the halls or common rooms of the facility. I was familiar with the numbing effect of the meds from previous stays. The dulling, sensory depriving reality of sanity was considered by the doctors to be a preferable state to hallucinating.
I came out of the facility relatively stable with a month’s supply of meds. I called my parents, let them know I was normal again, could visit them without the usual paranoid accusations and incomprehensible rambling. They didn’t invite me over to the house or offer to pick me up from Emerald Care, but they were nice about not wanting to see me. They had learned a few things in the years since I had begun to hallucinate. Mainly, how to avoid becoming tangled in my disease, which was my responsibility.
So, I set out for the streets again, to see if the green horse had been something other than a neuronal blip on my radar, more than a hallucination. It was St. Patrick’s day, but I didn’t know that at the time. A huge tent was erected in the middle of a street near a major bar. I walked inside to see everyone dressed in one shade of green or another. The green beer was flowing. I wondered if my meds were failing me, if I was imagining all of this, but this scene was not a hallucination, not this time, I thought.
It dawned on me that the revelers had created their own imaginary world, not too far from a hallucination. They were drunk, stumbling, and disoriented. They created this colored world to feel a little bit of what I felt when I was off my meds, but this was pleasure, not disease. This was sanctioned chaos. Better to have hundreds of drunk, green, people than one hallucinating man.
Then I saw the horse. My heart did a funny little skip and jump. His mane and tail were dyed dark, forest, green and he wore a satin, sequined vest about his middle with a wreath of green carnations circling his neck. The horse shook its mane like a girl tossing her hair and snuffled hard through his nose. It was a standard greeting, I knew, from our time on the streets. He recognized me.
I met the horse’s eyes and saw his frustration at being tethered. He flicked and jittered nervously as revelers bumped into him and the loud yahoos assaulted his ears. The horse did not want to be there. Instinctively, as I had done hundreds of times before, I ran through the crowd, weaving among startled drunks, to reach the horse. I saw people with concerned expectations on their faces as a path was held open for me. I wondered if any of them saw the green horse as I did. As I got closer, the horse pulled at his rains and I caught the scent of mint and oats in the air.