Targets and Horses
The wrapped spear lay in the wake of morning as it leaned on a stack of hay inside the disparaged wooden barn. The rising sun began to warm the Earth and all of her animals, casting a shadow from the outlines of the bordering mountains. The sheep gently opened their eyes and stretched their legs. The chickens scattered while the roosters sung loudly to wake any remaining life that was still asleep under the retiring moon. The goats had already been eating from the fields, and their neighboring horses remained calm as usual.
For the last eighty years, the old man had never missed a sunrise. He was the first to awake amongst all his animals, and he meditated with closed eyes from darkness until opening them to the light. He had a vigorous morning routine which consisted of deep breathing followed by bathing in the river next to his home in even the coldest of days. He would then eat an apple, which kept him satisfied for the next several hours of tilling all his garden beds and removing any newly grown weeds. He cultivated his land into growing the richest vegetables and fruits. The bloody red tomatoes were plump and stood tall. The bright lemons dangled loosely from the trees. The thick and curled watermelon veins stretched as far as his old eyes could see. After chipping all the newly grown weeds, he rewarded himself with some freshly picked fruits and drank from the flowing river next to his quaint, hand-built home. He then continued with his daily tasks.
Next he came to tend to his animals. He would first refill each of their food and water bins. Then, one by one, he inspected them to make sure they were strong and healthy. First were the chickens, where he gathered their eggs. Next were the sheep, where he would trim their fur. Later were the goats, which he would gather for milking to feed the kids. These tasks took another several hours. Once he had finished, he rewarded himself with a generous meal that usually consisted of stone-baked unleavened bread with various kinds of vegetables, herbs, and fruit thrown in a bowl. He always liked to eat next to the river where he would catch cool water from the stream in his cupped hands and bathe in afterwards. He then continued the day.
Inside the wooden barn next to his home, he would find his loyal spear resting in the same spot from the day before. The old man picked it up and carefully unwrapped the tight cloth around the head and butt to reveal the lustrous yellow bronze metal which shone like gold. Just outside, the old man had set up a variety of targets that rested on stacks of hay which differed in height and distance. They were mostly round and cut from wood, offering different sizes in diameter. Each had the same red dot painted in the middle. Some targets looked new while others suffered deep gashes—resembling the size and shape of the deadly bronze tip of his spear.
From a great distance, the old man would line up his feet on a mark and ready his stance for the first throw of the day. His elegant form resembled a highly trained soldier. His gaze was confident like the spirit of a young warrior. His breathe remained as calm as the breeze that caressed his robe. A lifetime of discipline had met that very moment. The target was already being pierced by his stabbing eyes. He raised the spear closely to his right ear, inches from his eye. It was seven feet in length and made of polished cherry-red mahogany. The sharpened butt and head were both made of the finest yellow bronze that glimmered in the sun and never seemed to dull. His left leg and arm extended outwards in line with the target as his open hand aimed at the spot to strike. His right knee bent back and slowly downwards, and in one sudden movement, the old man dropped back and then sprung fully forward to thrust an impeccable throw. The spear violently pierced through the center of the furthest wooden target, sending pieces of reddened chips to the ground. The old man slowly walked towards the spear and ripped it out in preparation for the next throw. He did this until every target was penetrated. He then polished the spear carefully and let it down in the same resting place inside the barn.
The tired old man walked into his humble house and retrieved a small knife that lay on his work desk. He also picked up a brick of wood that was half carved into a sculpture, no larger than his own hand. He then walked back outside towards his stable of horses to find them in the field. The old man opened the wooden gate and sat on a chair with a centered view of all three. The mother and father were resting together as their child strolled around them. They were all cinnamon brown with luscious black hair, except for the child who had a white stripe down her head.
The old man sat in his chair and continued carving the brick of wood as fresh shavings piled on the duller ones below his feet. He would gaze up and down while carving meticulously until the sun disappeared behind the mountains. A massive winged bird flew over him in the distant with a dangling object from its beak. The old man got up to kiss his horses goodnight before retiring back into his home.
He left the knife and sculpture in their respectful places on the desk and crawled into bed. As his eyelids closed, his lips grinned with gratitude for yet another purposeful day.