By S. Evans
Freyja is laughing as she leans over the door to your stall. You lay your ears back against your skull at the sound. The goddess’ mirth is malicious, edged and entirely without mercy.
Your rear hooves impact the wood solidly, and she flinches backward. The latch rattles sharply but holds against the blow. Her laughter is gone, but the amused contempt in her eyes is not. She leans forward again. You could bite her… but you’d have to turn around to do so, and it is not worth the effort.
“You thought he wouldn’t find you, with his one eye and his two ravens? You thought he’d stop looking, after what you did? It wasn’t insult enough for you to steal his chariot-horses: you had to eat them, too.”
Your hoof thumps against the door again, half-heartedly, as Freyja and her cutting laughter depart. You toss your head and the thousand stinging strands of your mane slap against your neck. Your coat itches, hair thick with dried sweat. No one has groomed you since you were caught. It has probably been forbidden. It is not as if you will die from ill-treatment, after all. You are a god.
Truthfully, you didn’t think he’d find you. Not as a mare, not so far away from Asgard’s walls. Not after six months of winter, with spring softening the air. You thought he’d forget, or forgive…
…until you saw the ravens circling overhead, searching. But you thought you could still evade punishment when you wheeled and galloped to Jotunheim to hide in your cousin’s stable with his stallion.
Inside your belly, something twists, turning. It kicks sharply with unborn hooves, and your breath wheezes out of your nostrils. You open your mouth to curse Ller and his damned stallion, but all that comes out is a whinny.
Repayment, he said. A replacement for the horses that you thieved from me. The thing inside you kicks again. You turn your head away from the fodder, provided for the sake of the life that swells your flanks. There is no room in your belly for hunger as you wonder what it will look like, that thing twisting within you - the son of a horse and a giant-turned-god.
You know that it will burst forth in a shower of blood and entrails. Surely Freyja will sew you closed again with her golden needle before it turns to feed. Surely the birth itself is repayment enough…
You tremble, and the motion runs along your spine from skull to restlessly swishing tail.
It’s almost foaling season.
Born in the year of the Rabbit, Stella Evans was supposed to be lucky and popular. Last in line when popularity was being handed out, she compensated by inventing an army of imaginary friends to take on imaginary adventures. This inevitably lead to the writing of speculative fiction. Ms. Evans lives in St. Paul with her spouse, her son, several cats and a forest of bonsai trees. She is a pediatric resident at the University of Minnesota.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish