“Grandma!” Marie cried out as she jumped from her father’s truck and up towards the porch of Martha’s farmhouse. Behind her, a cream white mare with a matching curly mane tumbled out of the car and trotted along after the girl. The 8 year old with her hair tucked away in scrunchy slammed into her Grandmother’s leg and gave her the tightest hug she could.
“Hewwo nice gwandmummah wady, fwuffy am named Bewwa”, the fluffy which had managed to catch up looked up towards Martha with wide eyes and a smile from ear to ear. “Grandma, mommy bought me a pony just like yours!”
Martha stared down at her granddaughter’s Fluffy. “That’s great sweetie, maybe she’d like to meet Rusty.” She despised these things, not for the reason most did, but because they weren’t real horses. Martha grew up on a farm and had a real pony as a child. He was brown and had a long white mane. She named him Dakota and competed at country fairs in various equestrian events. Eventually Dakota grew old and had to be put down after breaking a leg, but she never forgot him, no matter how many other horses she raised.
Still, Bella wasn’t a technicolor abomination and reminded her of the posters she had in her room as a child. “Why don’t you show Bella your room while I talk to your daddy.” Marie ran into the house screaming with glee as Bella struggled to keep up with her.
“So are you sure you will be fine with her?” Dan, her daughter’s ex husband, asked Martha. Martha walked towards him with a stride in her boots to show she was in better shape than him. “I already raised one girl and I’ve dealt with rowdier mares than that.” In truth, Martha wanted to spend time with her granddaughter and to help make up for the trainwreck that was her drug addicted daughter Cindy. “Well, if you’re sure. You always have my number.” Dan said reassuring her that he wasn’t being inconvenienced as he carried Marie and Bella’s luggage in.
Dan was a decent man, just in his thirties, a full head of hair, in shape, tall, good job. He could have easily remarried, Martha thought to herself. If he was a widower, she could at least understand that, but her drug addicted daughter literally cheated on him and stole twenty grand from him. He shouldn’t be hung up on that marriage. Still he said he wanted stability for his daughter and not having different women come into and leave Marie’s life while he dated and that was a sound enough excuse to her.
Bella was a ploy by Cindy to win over Marie’s love after the divorce, knowing how much Marie loved spending summers and holidays at the farm with Grandma and hearing stories about the pony she had as a child. “Besides, she’ll be spending half the time with her friend Callie down the road.” Marie had made friends with one of the neighbors at the country fair a few years back and they became inseparable during these trips.
Later, after Dan asked a dozen more times if she would be ok before driving off, Martha went upstairs to check on her granddaughter. She poked her head in the door and saw Marie and Bella playing tea party. To her credit, Bella wasn’t fussing about being forced to wear a frilly dress or drink water out of a plastic teacup.
“would you like a crumpet, Mrs Bella?” Marie asked the fluffy, offering it a shortbread cookie on a plastic tea plate. “yes pwease nice mummuh, Bewwa nee wots of bestes nummies fo Bewwa’s tummy bebbehs”
“Look, I’m sorry Martha, I didn’t know. I’ll find the hole in my fence and fix it. Do you need me to come pick up the damn thing?” This obviously wasn’t Dan’s fault but he couldn’t help feel some level of responsibility. “It’s fine Dan, I’ve birthed my share of horses. Marie can still go to her friend’s house. It’ll give me and the little gal some bonding time too.”
“If you’re sure. Thanks, I’ll call Callie’s parents and let them know. It’s a shame since she was looking forward to meeting Bella.” With that, Dan hung up. Martha knew he tried a lot as a single father. Having a pet forced on you by an ex as part of a war to buy your child’s affection certainly wasn’t his fault and Bella’s poor behavior by getting pregnant without permission was the product of poor rearing at a backyard fluffy mill.
Martha looked down at the fluffy eating it’s kibble on her kitchen floor. She added some milk and a scoop of prenatal supplements that she would normally add to the horse feed. “Now listen here, missy. That wasn’t a nice thing you did without asking. Now you won’t be able to meet Marie’s best friend.”
“Siwwy gwandmummah, speciaw huggies and bebbehs am dah bestest for mawes.” The mare corrected her. Martha couldn’t believe she was arguing with a horse-shaped toy. “Well, I hope you enjoy spending time alone with me while Marie goes to her friend’s house next week.” Confusion then contempt swept over the mare’s face. “Buh Bewwa am gud fwuffy an gud fwuffies need dewe mummuhs fow huggies and wub.”
“If you go, I hope you know your foals will get eaten by their cats” Martha chided. “Nuh, hissy munstahs nummied on Bewwa’s bwuddahs an sistahs wen Bewwa was just uh widdle chirpy bebbeh!” She was quiet for a moment and then finally answered, ”Bewwa undastan. Wiww be gud fwuffy tiww mummeh come back.” She looked down with watery eyes, but Martha was happy that it was willing to put it’s offspring’s best interest ahead of itself. Martha looked at the mare’s big glassy eyes, “I’ll keep you to your promise then!”
“So tell me about this special friend of yours sweetie?” Bella’s tears had pulled at her heartstrings and she tried to cheer her up by diverting her attention. It worked, Bellah’s face immediately lit up “Speciew fwiend am named Mandawin. Mandawin am big owange cowt wiff uh pwetty gween mane, Mandawin bwing Bewwa wots of gud nummies wike bewwies an fwowwas.” Martha nodded along as Bella told her all about the citrus colored abomination she bred with, it would be easier to deal with the fluffy if it liked her enough to follow directions.