Yvonne Who Is Terrified

She loved horses, though they terrified her.
She worked summers with the circus, a tiny high school girl in a polyester shirt.
She didn’t have the face or the personality to deal with people, so she worked behind the scenes.
She was a sweat worker.
It wasn’t a very romantic job, but her expectations were low.
She coiled ropes, swept up popcorn and vomit, shoveled manure.
She sweated and stank and swore and spit.
Callouses grew on her hands from the work, hard, horny things.
She was proud of them, proud of how tough she was.

She turned eighteen and went drinking with the other grunts.
The bar was dark and hot and sour-smelling, but no worse than the tents.
One of the farriers got too friendly with her so she worked him over and shoved him into the toilets.
She was a queen in the tents for a week, courtesied to, and solicited most respectfully.

She drifted around the animals, looking frightfully at the horses.
In her mind she saw the rippling flesh, the grace, the nobility, the fire.
To watch them she saw only rolling white eyes, great, stamping feet, and slashing teeth.
She turned away, hands busy.