• Published 30th Nov 2015
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Analemma - Miller Minus



Once every month, a mare appears on a remote beach, far from her home. She plays, she reads, she sleeps, and she wastes precious, precious time.

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2 – Water Damage

I saw her again a month later, much to my surprise. First off, after a month of nothing but seagulls, pelicans, and the occasional squirrel to keep me company, I was sure she’d left forever. Second off, I wasn’t even supposed to be there anymore.

Either way, it would be the last time. I had a long trip ahead of me, so I decided I’d watch her the whole day, just for kicks.

I was curious. That’s all.

Unlike last time, she was much quieter. I mean, the burst of magic was still loud, but it didn’t make me jump out of my skin this time. She must have gotten better at that spell she was using, because she didn’t make any new hole in the sand either.

The only thing different about her today was the pair of saddlebags over her back. She was still just as knackered as last time, so she started to breathe with that rhythm again. Eight minutes—in and out with the waves. After the exercise, she walked towards the trees – humming to herself the whole way – and floated the bags on the ground. From the first pouch she yanked out an absolute tome of a book and thudded it in the sand. From the second she pulled a sealed plastic bag of danishes—red and yellow and purple and covered with generous helpings of icing.

She retreated under the shade of the branches and I couldn’t see her anymore.

The rest of the day was relaxing for her, but bloody infuriating for me. The book must have been awfully good, because she giggled and gasped and carried on the entire time she read it—sometimes while her mouth was full of those freaking danishes (which, by the way, she finished all in one sitting). It was supposed to be my rest day, but I spent it wide awake, spending my precious, precious energy on wishing she’d shut up.

Her bags were sure interesting, though. The buckle that sat half-buried in the sand was decorated with a spiffy-looking sun emblem. The other buckle – folded over so I could only see the golden-plated back – was definitely the shape of a crescent moon. Weren’t those stories always saying something about the princess and her sister being in charge of the sun and the moon or something?

But it couldn’t be her, surely? It made no sense.

After several hours, she was about halfway done the book. She walked out towards the beach and closed a thin, wooden bookmark between the pages. She sighed with glee, snuck a look around her, and embraced the book tightly. She twisted left and right, like it was something that could love back.

She looked well silly.

***

The third month was when I knew it was her.

First off, her appearance was much more, I don’t know, regal this time. Maybe it was how high she held her chin, or how far her wings were stretched out when she arrived. She even held her hoof in the air as if ready to climb a stairway to the clouds. Plus, the spell had gotten so much more refined and so much more quiet. The first time she came, I realized, she was having a go at a pretty strong spell, which was the only reason she could have made such an explosion. She overestimated. That meant she blew in from proper far away. Like other-side-of-the-world far away. But after three tries, she was getting it.

I felt right clever that morning.

Oh, and her wearing her crown and golden shoes this time was also kind of a giveaway.

Then again, although the explosions were getting quieter, her accuracy was getting worse every month. She was so close to the water now that the waves managed to slide up under her hooves. She didn’t react from the cold water around her ankles, probably because she was too busy remembering how to breathe.

She took out that book again, and I could just swear she was at the exact same spot! She hadn’t read a page! Didn’t she have time back where she was from to finish a book? She read half of it in a day! Nobody’s that busy.

Either way, I dreaded it. It was not a good day for her to read. I had gone and done that thing where you sleep in so late that you end up wanting to nap for the rest of the day. “Is that the kind of day it is?” my body said. “Right-O, maybe we’ll do something worthwhile tomorrow. Nap day!” I was mad at first, but after a while I was kind of looking forward for an extra day to sleep. It was a good chance to not do anything but with a great excuse. But not anymore!

Not a good combination, me and her.

I tried to get to sleep anyways, though. I was two months overdue on leaving this place and heading back to my friends, so I needed the rest bad. I mean, I liked the temp home and all, but solitude wasn’t my thing. I also didn’t like how every day sounded the same. There were waves, birds, trees, and most importantly, a distinct lack of my friends calling out for me in the distance.

Note to self: Next time your friends tell you you can’t possibly fly over the ocean on your own, don’t go proving them wrong and getting yourself so bloody knackered you can’t make the trip back without recovering for three months (and counting). What’s the point in putting a stupid look on their faces if you’re so far away you can’t even see it?

“No… what?”

Suddenly I was waking up again. It was halfway through the arvo, and something had kept her mouth shut for me. I yawned as quietly as I could before taking my place on the windowsill for whatever entertainment she had planned for me.

Sunny was marching up and down the beach, holding the book in her magic, darting her eyes between every line. It was like a page every minute.

“No… no, no, no! You… You can’t!”

I chortled.

The pacing continued—her hooves drawing a really slender figure eight (or maybe it was just a line) in the sand. In a few minutes, the back cover fell on the last page, and she stopped walking. She flipped through the pages once more to the last and re-read the final few lines. The book shut with a loud thump. I held my breath.

“What…? That’s it?”

With a flap of her wings and a half-hearted toss of her magic, she plopped the beast of a book into the sand. She stared a terrifying stare at its cover and huffed; and for a moment, I thought that was the end of it.

“Oh, you… You…! What kind of ending was that!”

She dug in. Her back hooves stuck deep in the sand, and her magic took hold of the book. It spun a few inches off the ground and shot out towards the water, skipping once, twice, and three times before it stopped with a slap and began to sink. The pouty princess watched it go, and I ducked under the windowsill to whimper out a few laughs.

She vanished at the end of the day again (after a long, temper-reducing nap on the beach), and I felt a little twang in my chest.

That was it, I reckoned. Even if she came around again next month, I’d be long gone. My trip home was coming up in a matter of days. If I could fly one way, I could find my way back. It’d be easy. A real cinch.

Shame I’d never see her again.