A short story by RA Anderson dedicated to the American Saddlebred Horse Museum, Lexington, KY.
Thoughts lingered in my mind after Grandma told me about a wishing story. We walked in her den where I was asked not to play, and we sat down as she began her little story. She told me our families most secret of all secrets, her finger held to her lips as she looked around to see if anyone could hear. We glanced to the left and to the right, but no one was in sight. She pointed at this special bottle that sat upon a marble mantel. In a whisper she asked me, “Have you ever seen this magic bottle?”
My eyes widened as I studied it. The red glass bottle was in the shape of a heart, and the stopper on top was a flower, a rose in full bloom. No, I didn’t recall it, so I shook my head. It was old, and I didn’t see any magic.
“It’s more than a family secret, it’s magical,” Grandma said while looking directly into my eyes. Then she glanced back up at the bottle and added, “I promise.”
“What kind of magic? Can I ask for a toy?” I wondered out loud and then added, “How does it work?”
“No, it must be from your heart. Something so special it would mean more to you than any toy,” she firmly said. “It is the magic of a very tiny genie who lives within the bottle. She has been a friend of our family for over one hundred years, or so I was told. When you want to wish for something with all your heart, you gently rub the heart’s belly and say, ‘The chills that I feel, the tingles within me, let me wish if I may. I wish with all my heart for—and you add what you wish for here. I wish for this dream to come true,’ ” Grandma said with a smile.
This conversation happened a couple years ago, and now I might just have a wish.
You see, it seemed like forever ago, maybe a day or two when my grandparents took me on a drive. We drove and drove, heading to a place I didn’t know. On the way, the grassy hills rolled and the tall old oak trees stood and birds flew over a pond as I watched out the window, wondering at what I would see next. Dark wood fences came into view, rolling with the hills and bending to miss the oak trees. My gaze followed their shapes as they stretched and stretched, reaching for the next connection forming rounded corners. Then I saw a cow or two and wondered what else could be kept in those fences. Then I saw mares and their cute baby foals trotting and jumping about. They pranced with their heads held high, their little legs seeming to float and step like they were dancing. Their tails raised like little flags, they bucked and kicked their legs up toward the sky. This triggered a ruckus with all the mares who raised their heads from the lush grass and arched their necks and pointed their ears. The mares looked around with fear in their eyes, from the fright those little foals gave them. The mares’ nostrils flared, and they turned on their haunches and pranced as if floating in the air. Their knees bending like a soldier marching, they chased the foals around. Probably wondering what they could have seen. The foals slowed as the mares came to a halt, and they swished their tails and flung their heads. Oh, what a beautiful sight! The shiver I felt wasn’t the air but the excitement these horses sent to my heart. All I knew was that I wanted to see more! But sadly, the fence came to an end and these magnificent creatures disappeared from my sight.
A few moments or so later that felt like an hour or two, I noticed our car slow down. We turned to the right and weaved along the winding roads, as I wondered what breed of horses those were that could do such a high step dance and hold their heads up to the sky. Whatever they were, I wanted to see more and feel more of that tingle that made my whole body quiver with delight. Soon I felt the car stop and looked out my window again, first seeing a barn. I sat up straighter and moved to the edge of my seat to see if this could be right. The first thing I saw was a mare with her long neck stretched down to the grass as she munched and crunched while her foal napped in the soft green grass nearby.
“What breed is she?” I asked my grandparents.
“This mare and colt are American Saddlebred horses!” my grandmother replied with a smile.
“All your questions will be answered at the American Saddlebred Museum, but the tingle that may run up and down your body and twinkle in your eyes happens when you meet or ride one for the very first time!” Grandpa said as he looked at me and winked.
When we arrived back at grandma and grandpa’s house, I knew just where to go. I looked to my left and then to my right, making sure no one saw me go. As I stepped into the den, cautiously I walked up to the mantel and admired the red glass bottle. Then I said, “Hello, Genie in Grandma’s heart bottle. Are you home? It’s me, Annie. The tingle, the sheer excitement, and the twinkle in my eye—I had that today! Now do you see how important this wish is to me? I hope you are home. Well, here goes.” I took my fingers and rubbed the heart carefully and wished, “The chills that I feel, the tingles within me, let me wish if I may. I wish with all my heart for a horse, but not an ordinary horse. The tingle and twinkle came from an American Saddlebred horse! I wish for this dream to come true.”
And now what? I wondered, then carefully tiptoed out of the den.
We ate our dinner and played some board games until it was time to go to bed. As grandma tucked me in to bed, I asked, “If you ask Genie for a wish, how long until it comes true?”
“It depends on your wish and dreams. Plus, Genie must believe it is your true forever dream,” she answered.
I kissed grandma on the cheek and said, “It is, because I felt the chills and the tingle inside of me.”
Grandma kissed my cheek, smiled, walked toward the door, and wished me a good night.
The next morning, I found a note with sparkles and glitter and hoped it was about my wish come true. I opened it with trembling hands, the excitement and curiosity pinging around in my insides. I knew this might be the answer, so I opened it and read:
What a big wish for someone so young, but I believe that the Saddlebred gave you chills and your insides tingled. However, a horse is more responsibility than anyone your age can imagine, but riding lessons I will grant you for now. When the year is done, and your heart and dream is true, you can ask me once more.
Genie in the heart bottle
This is where my journey begins, and it’s on top of a Saddlebred whose nickname just happens to be Genie.
Featured image of Mare and foal is a sketch by Mrs. Helen K. Crabtree.