To say my relationship with my grandmother was complicated would be an understatement. After spending my whole life carrying the burden of her expectations, I had thought I would feel lighter upon her death. Instead, I find myself the unhappy heir to a dilapidated mansion, a fortune I never wanted, and a whole host of other obligations I am ill-equipped to manage.
The money was easy enough to divide evenly among the other grandchildren, but the house? My Uncle had the brilliant idea of renovating it and turning it into something Grandmama would hate, like a foster home. I’m kinda siding with my mother in that the only thing that would improve the landscape would be gasoline and matches.
My Uncles were on their way down from New York, and we had hoped to sort through the attic looking for their childhood mementos and anything that could be sold off. Rather than the bother of finding a bed and breakfast or imposing on a distant relative, I decided to just stay at the family home, as empty and creepy as it was.
Morning arrived. I awoke to texts from my uncles saying their flight landed and they were on their way. I decided to make myself coffee in the grand, empty kitchen and get started without them. I noticed some chewed-through packages in the kitchen pantry and made a note on my phone that I needed to call an exterminator. If there were rats and roaches they’d certainly be stirred up and be a nuisance during a renovation.
The attic was stacks and stacks of wooden crates with the dust smothering everything, even the smells. On each crate was a small paper label detailing the contents and the date packed. the further back I travelled into the box maze, the handwriting changed and the paper yellowed. Decades of household help sorting and labelling things my grandmother couldn’t bear to look at but couldn’t bear to throw away either.
A sudden noise caused me to turn around. I had thought rats and I was grievously wrong. It appeared Grandmama had kept fluffy ponies, and they were now neglected ferals in her own home.
A red unicorn with an interesting white stripe was assuming a dominant stance with his cheeks puffed, huffing aggressively at me.
“Dis Smawty wand! dummeh hoomin gib nummies or git wowstest hoofies!” He stomped his little hooves and huffed and puffed in the saddest display of masculinity I’ve ever seen.
“Oh no! Not a smarty! Don’t hurt me I’m so scared,” please note I’m a terrible actor and couldn’t mask my sarcasm at all, but still the little fluffy idiot bought it. “How much nummies do you need? How many fluffies?”
“Weawwy? uh… nummies fo Smawty, for dummeh mawe and bestest bebbeh. O, an poopie bebbeh. Dat mush nummies.”
I smiled my most syrupy smile, “Wow, you must be bestest daddy AND smarty too. You need a bestest name. I’m gonna call you … Shit-gibbon. Can I see your family, Shit-gibbon?”
“Shit-gibbum wub nyu namesie, Mistuh! Famiwwy heaww!”
The smarty led me to a crate lined with crumpled papers, yellowed with age and fluffy piss. Inside was a dirty, dull-coloured mare with two foals, their eyes only just opened, barely able to squirm around under their mother’s dingy fluff. A plump little red and white colt peered up at me from under his mother and a much smaller, skinnier filly of a dull grey was at her teats. The mare cowered in fear, but she wasn’t looking at me with terror-filled eyes, she was looking at Shit-Gibbon.
“Dummeh mawe nu gib miwkies to poopeh bebbeh, owny bestest bebbeh!”
The little mare cheeped in fear like an infant and squeaked out the words, “Bestest bebbeh tummeh happies, gwo big un stwon wike daddeh an poopie bebbeh git miwkies onwy aftuh bestest…”
The mare’s left eye was bloodshot and puffy. I cooed to her gently, “hey little fluffy mummah. I’m a new friend. What happen to your eye? that’s a big ouchies. can you and babies come out so I can see you? get you nummies?”
Shit-Gibbon puffed up beside me, “Dummeh mawe git hoofsies nu wisten to Shit-Gibbon. Am gud fwuffy daddeh, shoow dummehs to wisten.”
“I bet you are a good daddy, Shit-Gibbon. I bet you are.”
In this moment I missed my grandfather’s hounds deeply. I would have loved to see those big droopy-eared hunting dogs eviscerate this horrible pony.
The mare and her foals slowly crept out of the crusty paper nest. I gently scooped them up in my arms and put them in a discarded dusty Easter basket. I set the little family by the stairs and turned to deal with their patriarch. He was babbling about sketties and toys.
“My great-grandpa built this house, Shit-gibbon, and this house has rules. Wipe your feet, say grace before dinner, bedtime prayers… but Grandad wouldn’t approve of hitting women-folk, even if they are stupid little ponies. You gotta go.”
Unceremoniously I picked up one of the wooden crates and heaved it with force on top of the unsuspecting fluffy’s head. The splat wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped, but I’m certain I would have other opportunities. Rarely do fluffies exist in such small numbers. there was probably a larger herd in the house somewhere.
Estimating from the timeline between when the last housekeeper quit, when the hospice nurse started, and when my grandmother died, There’s a good twelve months where there wasn’t a full-time and able-bodied resident of the house to notice. These things can have a litter and those foals be breeding themselves in like… 4 months. There could be hundreds hiding in a big abandoned house.
I turned my attention back to the little basket of trembling ponies.
“Oh no! A big boxie fell and now Smarty had gone forever sleepies! So sad. Anyways.”
The little mother was too frightened to say or do much of anything, but she gladly accepted some lukewarm oatmeal and a brisk “lick clean” from me rubbing her with a soapy washcloth so she at least didn’t stink so bad. A proper bath would have to wait until she calmed down a little. I heard that these stupid little things can die from stress.
I made her a nest out of a decorative monogrammed towel and the busted easter basket we found in the attic. My little cousins might like a fluffy pony of their own. I’d ask my uncles about it when they arrived. After a little brushing out of her mane, turns out she was a soft pastel lavender colour. really pretty. definitely a little girl’s pony. Safely sequestered in an ensuite bathroom with water, dog kibble, some more old newspapers for a litter area until a box could be found and some baby toys found in the attic, the little mare settled in with her foals.
“How about I call you Lavender?”
“Www…wavvenduh? Wavenduh wub nyu namesie and nyu daddeh!”
My uncles thought it was hilarious that I’d saved the little family and splatted the smarty, and it was agreed my little cousins would be delighted to have a fluffy pony. They’d go back to New York later in the week. For now maybe Lavender could help us find where the rest of the fluffies were hiding. Good little stallions gelded, the sweetest ones with the best colors sold to Fluffmarts, and the little shit-gibbons of the herd stomped on and thrown away.
We never spoke of Shit-gibbon again, because nothing of value was lost.