Rose McDonagh
October 2017 First Prize


by Rose McDonagh

“Look,” Declan said.

Joanna moved to the living room window, from which she could see the back green, the bright square of it.

“Oh,” she said. Her pony was munching grass under the washing-line.

“Bloody hell,” Declan said, “Some nutcase has gone and got themselves a horse.”

“Looks like it,” she said.

“What were they thinking?”

The thing was she’d pitied it, all plastered in mud and roped to a lamp post.

“Maybe they didn’t think, maybe they just did it,” she said.

The pony walked under a low-slung bath towel. Its shadow created a cut-out shape. Declan heaved the window open and let in the gentle sound of teeth tearing grass. “Idiots. They’ll not be able to keep it.”

“How’d you know?”

“You can’t keep a feckin horse in a shared garden.”

“It’s more a pony,” she said.

Dinner smells and radio noise rose from the other flats.

“How did they even get it here?”

It had clopped along the pavement. Only once stopping to eat questionable flowers. “I don’t know,” she said. Its forlornness had spoken to her of vocation.

“They’re expensive,” he said.

“Probably won’t cost more than a big dog.”

Declan turned to her. “You’re not going to start moaning at me for a bleeding dog again?”

“Honestly, no.”

“Good. I worry dogs lead to babies.” He pinched her arm, leaving a white patch.

“Ow. I’m over dogs and I’ll never get on to babies. I’ve got finer things to think about nowadays.”

They stepped away from the window and headed into their nook of a kitchen where nothing was cooking.

Out back, the pony shook its mane full of sun and its silhouette shivered. Other figures gathered at other windows. They gazed at it the way they would have gazed at a bonfire.

About the Author

Rose McDonagh was born in Edinburgh. She has had writing published by BBC Wildlife Magazine, Gutter, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fairfield Review, the Guardian online, The Eildon Tree, Brittle Star, The Nottingham Review and New Writing Scotland. She read at Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2017 as part of their Story Shop programme. She currently works for two Scottish charities.

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