It was Saturday, and that could only mean one thing in the home of Wynona Baker and her much-adored fluffy, Marigold.
Today was Sketti Day.
Wynona had been a widow ever since her husband Pat passed away three years ago. He had been 62, a veteran of the Vietnam war, and he had spent most of his life building houses to make ends meet for their family.
Their three children had moved to far-flung states when they started families of their own.
So none of her family was near when Wynona found Pat unconscious in his workshop.
And that only served to make the pain Wynona felt so much worse.
When she discovered Pat slumped over his workbench she couldn’t move him at all. She had to call for an ambulance, and wait for the paramedics to arrive.
They took so very long to get there.
When they finally did, they calmly got out of the ambulance and lazily plodded to the back yard workshop.
Maybe if they had shown the least little bit of motivation…maybe they could have saved her Pat…
…But those were times long past, now.
A few months after the funeral, when Wynona was feeling truly awful… When she had nothing but complaints for the mailman, the grass cutter, the newspaper boy…when she was snide and standoffish with all of her children;
That’s when her neighbor had come by with the tiny fluffy pony.
Marigold was the runt of the litter. No matter how often Sue had tried to get her fluffy mare to give the little pony enough milk, the tiny filly always looked starved. Sue had been bottle-feeding her, but she needed a break from the loud playing of her children and their fluffies. So she had taken little Marigold with her to go visiting her newly lonely neighbor, never expecting that Wynona would fall so instantly in love with the tiny creature.
For the first time in months, Wynona’s expression had softened as she held the tiny little creature, cradling it in the nook of her elbow, and holding the bottle with gentle whispered words of encouragement.
Sue knew instantly that little Marigold had found herself a new home.
For two wonderful years Wynona and Marigold were inseparable. Marigold knew to stay out of Mummah’s way when she walked through the house, but followed closely at her heels wherever she would go. It didn’t matter if Wynona was headed to the garden, or the scary basement, or even the restroom, Marigold was with her at all times.
The local shops got used to seeing Marigold’s bright blue eyes peeking out of the pocket of Wynona’s dress on her shopping days. The little yellow pony especially loved when Wynona’s grandchildren would call her via video-chat, and waved to them cheerfully before telling them all about the wondrous adventures that she had with Mummah Wynona.
But there could never be anything better than Saturday.
Because Saturday was Sketti day.
And that meant that Wynona and Marigold would sit at their dinner table, and feast on their sketties, and sing.
The pot of pasta was already boiling,
The scents of cilantro, oregano, and thyme permeated the house,
Wynona was happily singing a Patsy Cline song
For thinking that my love could hold you
I’m Crazy for cryin’, Crazy for Tryin’ ♪…
Marigold, as always, shouted the next line with her Mummah
♪ An am Cwa-zee fo wuuuubbin yuuuu! ♫
The little fluffy looked up at her Mummah with glee…
….but Wynona had suddenly stopped singing
“M-mummah? Wut wong? W-wy yu no singies?”
Wynona was gripping the countertop with her right hand so tightly that her knuckles were turning white.
Her left arm hung limply at her side.
It took her a few moments to look around and locate her beloved pony. It took even longer for the distressed look on the fluffy’s face to register within her.
Mummah’s face only scared Marigold further.
“Mummah! Wut madduh!? Yu be otay?”
Wynona’s maternal instinct kicked in just enough to make her smile at the little pony.
Only the right side of her face curled up into the familiar wrinkles and laugh lines.
The left side remained dormant and slack.
“Muh-mah, Mewwigowd nu wike dis gamie…” the little pony stammered, her tiny legs shivering
Wynona’s breath was coming in ragged little gasps. She let go of the counter long enough to reach into her pocket and pull out her phone. She looked at it for a long while, as if trying to remember what it was for.
“MUMMAH! Ast Seewee fo hewp! Seewee c’n maek Mummah wemembuh how smiwe wite!”
The old woman looked at the pony, and then back at the phone. With trembling fingers she finally found the home button.
A cheerful double tone rang out to show that Siri was listening
Again the tone rang
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand your question”
Suddenly Wynona’s balance gave out and she fell into the countertop, knocking the boiling pot of pasta off of the stove.
Little Marigold screamed and ran to the far corner.
Wynona slumped to the floor among the steaming water and spreading noodles as the little pony shouted in fright
“MUMMAH! MUH-MAH! MUMMAH PWEEZE NU PWAY SCAWY GAMIE! MEWWIGOWD NU WIKE DIS!”
The pony loudly huuuued and whimpered as she watched her Mummah drop the phone to the floor.
Siri made another chime to announce that it was listening.
Marigold didn’t know what to do. She had never talked to Siri before. But she’d seen her mummah ask Siri to call people before.
She knew that Siri might be the only person who could help.
Mustering up all the courage she had in her tiny body Marigold skittered over to the phone and shouted at it.
“SEEWEE! MUMMAH NEE HEWP!”
There was a double chime
“I’m sorry but I didn’t understand”
Marigold fell to her knees pleading with the phone
“Peese Seewee mummah am hab wuwstes huwties”
there was a long pause
“I found this on the web” said the digital assistant, displaying a dessert recipe calling for peas, nori, and ham.
With tears in her eyes the fluffy stood up and stomped on the phone repeatedly, pomfing as hard as she could at the unfeeling screen.
Furious and frustrated the fluffy stared at the display, the imaginary little gears in her head seeming to tick listlessly.
Her bottom lip trembled as she shouted at the phone
…There was no response
Marigold fought back tears as she tried again
The double chime of acceptance sounded
“Caww” no that’s not right, Think Marigold!
What did Mummah say the noisy white monsters with the red lights were?
The ones that came to help people?
The ones that… didn’t come fast enough… for her huzbind?
another long pause stilled the room
“I have no record of a Carl Embertintz. Would you like to create a new contact?”
tears streamed down the little pony’s cheeks and she shouted
“NU! Cawwl Emberlimps!
“I have no record of an Amber Lindtz, Would you like to create a new contact?”
Marigold covered her face with her hooves, whimpering and moaning
“See-rrree Cawl Ambuh-lince fo mummah! Cawl Ambuh-lince! PEEZE!”
But Siri didn’t respond.
Marigold shook all over and moaned a long and mournful “huuuuUUUU!!”
…Mummah was going forever sweepies, laying in the middle of the cooling skettis.
The red sauce was still simmering and burbling on the stovetop.
This was how they would spend the rest of forever.
Marigold dejectedly crawled over to her mummah, nuzzling Wynona’s face with her own
“Mewwygowd su sowwy mummah.” the pony’s breath came in shuddering little gasps
“Am su sowwy…Mewwygowd wuv yu su much, mummah…”
The voice of the digital assistant broke the stillness of the night one more time
“Okay, I’ve contacted local emergency response and an ambulance has been dispatched to your location.”