White Horses

By Janet Fawdington

I was staying at a holiday cottage on the coast. It was advertised as a refuge
from the stress of everyday life. I didn’t need refuge as such, but I did need to
finish my novel. White Horse Cottage said a rustic plaque on the gate,
embellished by dancing unicorns. More like fat little ponies with inverted ice
cream cones stuck to their foreheads.

There were no white horses in the surrounding sodden fields, just wet,
fed up looking brown cows. The only white horses I saw were the waves on
the sea as the wind whipped them angrily against the rocks and lashed them
on the beach.

I couldn’t sleep. The creaking and banging of doors and shutters and
the wind whistling down the chimney drove me into boots and coat over my
pyjamas and down to the beach. It must have been the insomnia, I thought I
saw white horses gambolling and rearing in the wild, white sea.

Despite the lack of sleep, I woke early with a strange desire for
mushrooms on toast. I ventured into the woods about half a mile from the
cottage. After the storm, the morning was magical, misty, mysterious. A
silvery sun filtering through the trees. Even if I returned for a mushroom-less
breakfast, the peace of the woodland was soothing and worth the hike.

On my hands and knees, amongst the grass, I heard the snap of a dry
twig, heavy footsteps behind me. I froze, fear shooting into my stomach. I
stood, turned, my only weapon a bucket with a dozen or so small button

He stood stock still, glowing white in the mist, his ears forward,
enquiring, his dark eyes curious. He snorted a greeting from his pink, velvety
muzzle, shook his rippling mane. Another white horse. Perhaps they were
wild here.

But then, a shaft of hazy sunlight illuminated him. A spiralling horn in
the centre of his forehead. A Unicorn. A Unicorn?

He gazed at me for a while, then turned and disappeared into the mist.

Janet Fawdington 2023

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