Open Gates

The following story was inspired by the southwestern landscape above by Elsie Croson.

I told him to check the gate before he left the paddock.  But, as usual, the damn fool couldn’t listen and walk at the same time and now I’m the one running through the damn desert looking for two, damn horses, with about half an hour of daylight left.


Doesn’t help they both have full bellies and were restless. I’m surprised, though, they usually don’t wander much further than the nearest bunch of grass or hay bale…

Can’t say I blame them. This is my favorite time to be out here, with the sun dipping, the temperature cooling, and the Sonoran dusk painting everything in soft, warm colors of remarkable depth and variety. Turning the wicked and prickly and choked landscape of the mid-day sun, into something not longer intimidating but inspiring in its dimension and pacifying in its complexion.

I love the desert.

Just not when I’m chasing after fucking horses.

Can’t see a damn thing from down here, I have to go higher – climb the rocks on the other side of the wash. Damn it, I hope they haven’t gotten themselves into trouble. Horses have a nose for that shit. They can tear themselves up good hightailing it through these parts.

Hell, they can rip themselves open just messing around in the corral. Stupid beasts. I don’t know who to be more mad at – them, HIM… or me.

I knew this would never work, but I kept insisting – PROMISING – that it was going to be a new start for everybody – even though I was full of shit each time I said it.

Now, every day I see the resentment grow darker in his eyes – those beautiful eyes that used to offer such strength and comfort.

He can hardly look at me anymore.

And when he does, all I see in them is that he’s long gone. Far away. Like the touch of his hand.

His smile.

I hoped it would be different, that he’d grow to love it here, away from the things that made him unhappy.

But the fact is… I seem to be the thing that’s making him the unhappiest. I know it. He knows it. We just can’t seem to admit it to each other…

I don’t know why… maybe because it means being alone?


But I’ve never felt more lonely.

The winds offer more solace than his troubled presence. So why am I so desperate to hold onto something – to someone – who desperately needs me to let go? To let go.

The problem is, who goes first?

“There you are, you little devils! Yeah, YOU! I’m talking to you two! Enjoying the little outing, are we?! Please, PLEASE stay put you big, hairy beasts, ’til I reach you.”

If only I could reach him. Help him. Make him happy. But all I can do is love him. And that’s simply not enough.

At least, not anymore.

I know that now.

He’s restless – like the horses – and I just need to open the gate and let him go. No chasing after him like a damn fool.

“Look what I have boys… treats! That’s right, buddy, a big, yummy treat. Just let me slip this around your neck, and – gotcha, my little runaway… And one for you. Atta boy! That’s it, fellas. Follow me. Time to go home.”

Time to go home.

Time to close one gate and open another.

Author: Anne Celano Frohna

I am a writer, a mother of two girls, Eva (20) and Sophia (18) and wife to one husband, Kurt. I was mostly a professional writer and editor for 30 years for graphic arts and advertising, for publishers of newspapers, magazines, books, etc.,. Now, I have a blog where I post my creative non-fiction, short stories, a couple of illustrated children's stories and a comedy I wrote about two years I spent teaching English in rural Japan (NOT a story for a child.). I’m also working on a new blog about the wonderful, hand-crafted items I've collected over the years at - which will also connect to the Etsy shop I recently opened called Channeling Nonna. My husband and I both love to cook and to entertain and have welcomed friends and family to our homes for over 20 years. With our eldest off at college, we also began hosting with Airbnb, the perfect (and most natural) way for me to continue to pursue my passion of writing, while at the same time help us pay for current and future college expenses.

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