Friday, July 5, 2013

5 July 2013

Amanda Coplin [Corina Bernstein]

Della lowered herself above the horse’s back without touching the flesh, holding herself up in the scaffolding above the chute — and both men, one at either elbow, saying Okay? and checking to see that the horse was not caught in the chute, that no impediment would keep the animal from surging with utmost force the moment it was released. As soon as the panel at the opposite end of the chute was wrenched up, Della would drop onto the horse’s back. She would be carried forth, crashing through the chute and into the arena in a matter of seconds.

Both Clee and the wrangler disapproved of this spectacle and had tried to keep her from doing it. But at the last moment they had no power over what she did; they just stood by and watched like the rest. Disgusted. Clee’s jaw hard.

This entry did not excite the auction-goers so much as make them extremely uncomfortable. Just last year a rodeo man had mounted a bull in the deep chute and been trampled to death before the bull reached the arena. The entrance was unnecessarily dangerous; there was always a moment when the chute seemed too long, and she thought she would be flung underfoot. That dread, that sureness that she was going to fail, to die, was why she did it. She craved, for some reason — she would not look at it directly — that sense of despair.

Now, in the chute, hovering over the horse, her extremities emptied of feeling, and she felt only the steady, increased beating of her heart. She dissolved.

Are you ready? the man on her left whispered to her. Did she respond? She must have, for the panel shot up with a grating noise, and the animal jolted beneath her.


She saw despair as one sees a solid object in the distance. And then she was inside it. Through it.

Perhaps it was not the despair she craved, but the moment afterward: the brilliant moment of not failing. Success.

But, no. What was recognized as success — the applause, the exclamations, the job well done; she was already off the horse, pumping people’s hands in congratulations — did not fill her. Did not even begin to fill her. What she wanted was the despair, or something else that was found there. Something that lived with despair. But the moment she was inside it, she failed to find what it was she wanted so badly.

And so she would ride again.

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