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Night of Wonder

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Without Wonder

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Later in the evening, Ashleigh went to check on Wonder and her colt. When she arrived, the two were snuggled up together, the little brown foal curled up in a ball beside his mother. Ashleigh smiled at the two horses and set up in the tack room to sleep. If anything was wrong with Wonder or the foal, she wanted to be there. She tried to stay awake, but her eyes just seemed to want to close...

The next morning Ashleigh awoke so she could go see Wonder and the foal. Wonder gave a tired whicker of greeting when she arrived. "Hey, girl. How was your night?" Ashleigh asked rubbing the mare's nose. She noticed something was different. "Wonder, are you all right, girl?" she asked, noting the mares dull expression. The little colt was scooting around the stall. "Whoa, easy little guy." Ashleigh laughed, scratching his ears.
The foal ventured over to his dam and began to nurse while Wonder stood with her ears limp.

When Christina arrived home from school, she noticed her mother standing beside Wonder with a thermometer in her hand. "Mom, whats wrong?" She asked.
"Wonder has a fever, Chris. She hasnt even touched any of her feed yet". Ashleigh replied. "Is it bad?" Ashleigh nodded. Christina could see the little brown foal looking at her curiously from between Wonder's legs. He ventured out slowly from behind his dam and arched his neck to sniff Christinas fingers. Wonder lifted her head tiredly, flicking her ears back and forth. "Hey, you." Christina said to the little colt, which nudged her arm curiously. Wonder placidly walked over and nuzzled the colt's shoulder tenderly, nickering softly to him. When the little foal almost went for a nosedive, Wonder was immediately by his side, nudging him reassuringly. She put her elegant muzzle under the foal's hindquarters to help him to his feet. Once steadied, she nuzzled him tenderly once more, nickering softly in her special mother voice.

The rest of the day seemed to pass by quickly. Ashleigh was staying in the barn to keep a close eye on Wonder and Christina wondered why her mother hadn't come inside by dinner time. "Your mother's just very worried about Wonder." Mike Reese reassured his daughter. Christina was skeptical. "But what if something happens? Wonder looks really sick, Dad." She told her father. "Don't worry so much, Chris. I bet that Wonder will be feeling better in no time." Mike reassured Christina, winking at her.

But that was not going to happen because when Christina arrived home from school Monday afternoon, she came in the barn to see a very sad sight indeed. Ashleigh was sitting beside Wonder, who was breathing hard. Dr. Seymour was standing close by. Christina could see her mother was crying. But, why? Her eyes widened when she saw the little colt standing alone, nudging his mother's hindquarters in bewilderment.
Ashleigh looked up to see Christina standing in the doorway, and shook her head.

"Mom, what is going on?" Christina asked in confusion.
"Wonder's bleeding internally." Ashleigh choked out. She gazed into the wise mare's eyes as she began gnawing on her lower lip. "We have to put her down."
"Put her down??!!" Christina cried, suddenly realizing the severity of her mothers words. "You cant possibly mean youre going to put her to sleep after all you have been through together?!" Dr. Seymour put up a finger. "Christina." He began. "You don't understand. Ashleigh and Wonder have been through a lot together, but your mother isn't giving up on her. There are toxins in the blood already, which in time will ultimately kill Wonder and cause her further agony in the process. Her body is shutting down, Christina. You have to understand. Wonder will die either way."

"What about taking her to a clinic? Surely we can do that for her? "Christina said softly.
"If only life were that simple. It would only prolong Wonder's suffering. It's just not fair to her." Ashleigh responded. Christina looking at the suffering mare. "What about her foal? He needs Wonder!" Christina said but stopped when she noticed her mothers expression turn stony. "We'll deal with the colt later." She said, her face expressionless.

Who's gonna tell you when it's too late? Who's gonna tell you things aren't so great?
You can't go thinking nothing's wrong. Who's gonna drive you home tonight?
Christina thought of the song that she had heard many times on the radio and seemed eerily perfect, considering it could be viewed as a depressing song. A shrill whinny answered her thoughts. Wonders foal! The poor thing was still standing alone. Christina rushed to him and threw her arms around his neck. She thought of the rest of the lyrics to the song as Dr. Seymour ushered her out so that Ashleigh could spend her final moments with Wonder.

Ashleigh stroked Wonder's ears and face, as she poured all her love into the dying mare.
She had done all she could and now she was about to lose her best friend.
"Oh, girl!" She cried, sobbing into the mare's coat. "I dont want to lose you! You're my special friend, my companion. This can't happen! Not now! Not after all we've been through." Wonder flicked her ears at her friend and nickered weakly.
Christinas thoughts suddenly flashed through Ashleigh's mind and she was confused. What did they mean?
Who's gonna pick you up when you fall? Who's gonna hang it up when you call? Who's gonna pay attention to your dreams? Who's gonna plug their earswhen you scream?
You can't go on thinking nothing's wrong. Who's gonna drive you home tonight?

Christina and Dr. Seymour came back inside. Ashleigh was resting her cheek against Wonder's forehead. Wonder was whickering in pain. "Shhhhh. Easy. You have to rest, girl." Ashleigh said softly to her beloved Wonder. "I love you so much." She sobbed quietly. "Never forget that." Christina ran back to the foal and hugged him tight as she watched Dr. Seymour run his fingers gently along Wonder's back. He then picked up the syringe and took off the cap. Ashleigh was concentrating so hard on Wonder's face. She was breathing hard as she stroked the mare's blaze. I love you, Ashleigh's Wonder, she thought, looking in Wonder's dark eyes.

The little foal squirmed in Christina's arms, nickering softly for his mother. "Shhh. Its okay, baby. You're going to be just fine." Christina soothed in the little colt's ear.
Ashleigh continued to gaze into the mare's eyes as the vet administered the injection. Wonder's chest heaved up and down. The foal squirmed against Christina.
Whos gonna hold you down when you shake? Whos gonna come around when you break? You can't go on thinking nothing's wrong. Who's gonna drive you home tonight?
Christina thought as silence filled the room. Wonder was gone.

~The End~

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