UPDATED version of Past Thoughts. Too many folks didn't get the context so I added a stronger connection.



Author's notes: Here I go again, trying to be creative. This is a single chapter story. If you read this, PLEASE take the time to review. If you've ever written a story, you know what I am asking. Most of us like to know if we are reaching folks with our hearts hanging out there on our sleeves. Mine is flying in the breeze with this story.

JRRT (or more truthfully his estate) owns the main character of this story, though I don't name him. Tolkien was a grand master. I am a paltry hack. All hail the creator of Middle Earth.

*********************

1 Illusion

Have you had the experience of seeing something out of the corner of your eye bring back a full blown memory? I once had a pony. I loved that pony. We spent hours and hours together. Her name was Keeda. It was a mispronunciation of a heroic bug that could do anything from a story book my Aunt gave me. My father used to read it to me every night. I couldn't say Katydid. That was the bug's name. Katydid. And she did. She could do anything. That was the point of the story. I see now it was to instill in me an understanding that if a little bug could do what was set before her then a small hobbit lad could certainly do no worse. I had many lessons to learn being the only child and heir. Because I couldn't say Katydid I called the bug Keeda.

"Da, read me Keeda, peeeeese?" and he would. Nearly everynight for years. Until I got my own Keeda. And she was wonderful. Not many hobbits have ponies. And Keeda wasn't really mine. She belonged to my father and she was a work pony. But when he brought her home from the horse and pony auction in Bree that late autumn day, I thought she was for me. I jumped and clapped and ran to my father and hugged him soooooo hard as he led this most beauteous creature on a hackamore down our lane at the end of the day.

"Thank-you, DA, oh oh oh, thank-you!!!!". I just KNEW he'd bought her for me because I had mastered the onerous chore of sitting at the table the entire dinner, using the proper table service, NOT talking out of turn, AND keeping my napkin in my lap (these were important lessons according to my mother, the Mistress of the smial. I still have difficulty with them). Looking back, remembering in later years how my mother and father laughed and laughed about that day – "Oh, Saradoc how can you NOT give him the pony? He thinks it's for him, silly lad!" I realize now that the pony was NOT for me, but my parents loved me and tolerated more than I gave them credit for. Especially during my rebelious tweens.

In my younger years when my mother would recount this particular trifling, she'd pull me in and kiss me. In my tweens when I'd have nothing to do with my mother's administrations, she'd content herself with smiling at me while I blushed furiously. Now that I'm of age and have seen the atrocities of war, I let her hug and kiss me when she tells the story.

Keeda and I had wonderful times together. I got her out of more days of ploughing than I can recall. And she kept me company through the agonizing years called pre-tweens. "Oh Da, look, Keeda's foot hurts, you can't POSSIBLY make her go out in the field today…" eyes pleading up at the Master, begging for what I was worth just so I could jump on her back and ride her full tilt out to the edge of the forest to look for adventure. And he'd give in, always with a semblance of authority, "Well, lad, I *suppose* she's a bit lame in the foreleg. Now, you give her a rub down and make sure she doesn't use it today. We'll work that acre tomorrow". And my father would smile indulging me. Somehow, I never managed to completely destroy his confidence in me, though there were times when he'd warm my backside with his strap, even into my twenties…. And Keeda would be there when I'd go cry in her mane about the cruelty of the world. Little did I know of cruelty. But she was sweet and smelled like hay and always nickered when I'd come near. A beauteous creature. A true friend. There until she died. Too soon for me, but not too soon for her. She was weary and old; it was her time to leave me. Her time to leave me to the comfort of other good friends.

She was black. All black except for a star and two socks, one on the front and one on the rear. I saw a black pony this morning on my way into town. My heart skipped a beat. Memories forgotten flooded me. I wanted to run up and catch her mane in my hands. I stopped myself before I yelled out her name. It wasn't my Keeda. This imposter indeed had one white sock on her hind. But as her owner led her around the corner I noticed she had no sock on the front and had a foal by her side.

We never bred Keeda. Breeding an animal as large as a pony was best left up to professionals. Old Toby had nearly been killed when he'd tried to breed his beautiful bay to a neighbor's cousin's stud pony. You don't mess around with animals bigger than you. And he'd lost the mare in the end. She'd bucked and kicked and broken his knee as he'd tried to hold her still. She'd gotten tangled up in the cross ties when one broke free. The lad who helped him in the fields was assisting by holding the stud. He grabbed the broken lead and wrapped it together with the stud's lead around the upright. They both tried to bolt and she fell, broken leg…. Had to put her down. Everyone was so sad. To loose a piece of property as expensive as a pony and one as beautiful as that bay….. and then to break one's own knee in the event, too much trouble and sadness. Pippin was 22. He lived fairly close to Tobias, being from Tookboro. I remember he kept asking me why the stud bit the mare so meanly and why she fought back and why she had to be killed. I didn't cry but I remember Pip crying when I tried to explain. Later he perked up and became his old cheerful, crazy self, hideous incident forgotten, until a year later he would excitedly retell the tale at the pub because he had seen it first hand and loved to tell tales where he was "involved".

This coming from a lad who thought a fellow Knight of Rohan said "shot" when he'd said "shod" that day before the battle when referring to his gelding not having the proper shoes to do him justice in battle and how the gelding would have to be "shod". I still remember Pippin crying at the thought of a creature being intentionally killed. I was transported back to the day the Bay had to be put down. He cried then in the Shire and he was crying hysterically on my neck out on the field 7 years later. I thought I'd nearly laugh myself to death once I'd figured it out as a simple mistake in hearing. But I didn't; it dawned on me that it wasn't his love of equines that caused him to break down out there in front of everyone but the effects of living in the depths of despair for nearly a year. Now facing the horrors of a war that would probably take our lives. Still, he was mighty chagrined once I explained that SHOD was not SHOT and there was no reason to kill that wonderful horse our friend had chosen to take him into that fateful battle. Ah, Pippin can still be dense. But he's such a comfort, having seen what I've seen and having recovered far better than I. Pip knows and understands why it's important to be a friend and can make me laugh when I forget the beauty of the world.

But I digress. Have you ever had that experience of seeing someone long dead walk into the pub, have your heart skip a beat, your blood rush to your face and your hopes soar, only to realize that the person is just someone who looks like your old friend? And then you see that he doesn't even really LOOK like your best friend, the lad you remember from the day your consciousness formed. It was just a trick of the light and the fact that the stranger has dark curls and intense blue eyes and is really too thin to be a proper hobbit.

I miss Keeda. She was a good pony.

I miss my cousin. He was my best friend. He gave himself so that I can sit here in this pub and drink this ale and think about good times past and hope for good times to come.