Only Boys and Horses

This is a flash fiction piece I wrote for Siobhan Muir’s ThursThreads competition. The weekly challenge is to write a story between 100 and 250 words using a prompt from the previous week’s winner. In this case, the prompt was, “I need you to stay quiet and out of sight.”


Major Duncan Bardahlson, consort to the Countess of Wellen, peered at the small and very muddy boy standing in front of him. “You tried to ride Fremder again, didn’t you?”

Count Charles Busse dug a mud-encrusted boot into one of the courtyard’s cobblestones. “’es,” he mumbled.

“What did I tell you about that?”

Another twist of the boot toe. “He’s too big for me and I’ll get hurt.”

Duncan sighed. He loved his stepson, but Charlie had a knack for getting into trouble with his beloved horses. “Stop digging your boot into that cobblestone, son. Now, are you hurt?”

The boy looked up at him, blinking. “No, Da.”

“Good. Do you know where Fremder is?”

“In the garden, I think.”

Duncan tried not to imagine what the warhorse could do to his wife’s cherished garden. “I’ll get him. And then you’ll muck out his stall, clean his feed buckets, and groom every inch of him. Is that understood?”

The boy’s brown eyes filled with remorse. “Can I help you catch him, Da? It’s my fault he got out.”

Fremder was trained to come at Duncan’s call, but instilling a sense of responsibility would benefit Charlie more in the long run. “All right. But I need you to stay quiet and out of sight until I have him. Do you think you can do that?”

“Yes, Da.”

Duncan folded his arms. “And after you finish grooming Fremder … it’s bath time.”

Charlie drooped at the mention of his nemesis. “Yes, Da.”