Patty Cottrell

I once knew a girl who hated horses. She was sent to live on a farm and the presence of the horses tormented her. They frightened her with their loud stamping, their faces overwhelmed with flies.

-I hate it here, she cried. Don’t make me look at them. Don’t let them touch me.

Those years she lived with us, we had her groom the Appalachian, Alstian, Azteca, French trotter, Konik and black.

We kept Peruvian stepping horses, too.

Horses with bellies full of apples and nuts. North Swedish horses, Ukranian rider horses.

There were horses born in late March and then in July.

Orphan horses. Horses folded and stored like tents on shelves. Horses with eyelashes like delicate lace, horses afflicted with lice, horses diminished by night stars.

She groomed our lamest horses, fetlocks scored with forks. Horses with the grace of ice floes, glacially-paced. Horses stuffed behind chimney brick, horses jammed inside orifices of broken toy dolls.

All the men in town came to admire our horses and we were never without the company of a baronet or doctor.

When the girl who hated horses left us, she walked down a narrow dirt path and some of the flies bit across her eyelids.

When the girl who hated horses left us, everything inside the barn was kneeling down.


Patty Cottrell's work features in Funhouse Issue 1. Her novel, Sorry To Disrupt The Peace, is forthcoming from McSweeney's in 2017. She lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Illustration by Fran Marchesi.

This story and more can be found in Funhouse Issue 1.