In the other wing of the barn, I scoot out the half-open door and slog to the back pasture to get Tucker. He’s always the last to come in because he likes being outside better than in his stall. But tonight he’s coming in for sure.
Jogging down the gravel drive to his field, I call, but my words are carried off by the wind. Tucker is usually at the gate at dinnertime, but since it’s early he’s nowhere in sight. That means I have to go after him. Grabbing his halter off the post, I open the gate and notice that it wasn’t latched completely. I’m glad I caught that mistake and not Eddie. My feet are so wet already, the damp seeping in through the seams doesn’t matter anymore. Hands framing my mouth, I call in every direction and wait to hear hoof beats. Nothing is visible beyond a couple of feet, so I head in the general direction of where he likes to hang out, flexing my fingers to keep them from freezing.
I spot him at the bottom of the hill. It looks like he’s standing in water or in a big area without any snow. Jogging downhill, my feet feel like they’re going to shatter from cold.
“Tucker,” I holler. “C’mon, you jerk. Don’t make me come after you.”
He doesn’t move, standing, head low, butt to the wind.
I jog closer, yelling, but he doesn’t move or lift his head.
“Tucker, what the heck is wrong with you?”
Then I see. It’s not water. Not a bare patch. He’s standing in blood. Black in the center, redder on outside edges. So much blood. Blood—on snow.
I don’t know how I get to him so fast, but I’m suddenly by his side, standing in the dark pool surrounded by bright white snow. Dropping to one knee, I search his belly, his legs, his chest. Where is the cut? Where is it coming from?
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