The windows were closed and the aisle was dark.
I was searching for the last straw of hay in the shavings. I had already licked the manger clean.
The usual vibrating deep sound came from the gelding’s stall; he was sleeping. I heard the sorrel gelding nibbling at his manger and the bay mare sighing.
From the end of the aisle came the sound of the old big black gelding who was trying to get some air. It was a sound that made me feel hungry for air and I started to go round in my stall, panting.
“Stop circling!” said the wise gelding, yawning. “You’re terribly noisy tonight.”
“Don’t you hear that… that… breathing.”
The gray gelding put his face to the bars. “His time has come.”
“Who is coming?”
“You know, we are like markers. We have a meaning, a reason to be here… but then we break, get useless and are removed.”
“Who’s removing us?”
“I don’t see any shadow…”
“It’s inside us, it’s something we are born with. It’s a shadow that chases the light, like the dog is chasing the cat. He cannot refrain from doing it.”
The breathing of the black gelding became smoother; he let out a sound, which was neither a nicker nor a purr, it was a sort of snort let out in the water bucket.
The gray gelding pressed his forefront against the bars and I saw a sudden light in his eyes. “C’mon, big boy…” he whispered, “let it go.”
No sound came from the other stalls. I had a cold feeling running over my back, like someone had opened up the window to the outside. But it still was shut.
Then I heard a deep and long gasp.