The night my mother died, the horse in the barn started singing.
Its neck bulged, veins sticking out like ropes around a hanged man's throat. The old blind eyes stared at nothing, dumbly terrified of the same.
"Shut up, you old dumb bitch," I snapped at it. It had been my mother's horse. Better than a lawnmower, cheaper than a car, she used to say. But for the last few years, it had been too sick to eat and too weak to ride or pull a cart. It just stood in its stall, swaying on its broomstick legs and heaving its eyelids up and down over its smoggy eyes. We'd been an odd trio—my mom, her horse, and me. She refused to kill it, and it had probably been a better daughter to her than I had anyway.
They'd both started spitting out teeth as they aged, joined in an inter-species sisterhood I couldn't begin to understand. Lumps of bone tumbled out of their jaws and left behind muculent yellow holes emptier than any tooth ever could have filled. I remember the first one my mother lost. The image of her slumped in the bathroom, crying. Just there, and crying. "Oh, Missy, look! You can see it when I smile!"
I cried, too—later, alone, because my mother had never so much as broken a bone.
"I ought to take you out back and shoot you," I told the horse. The animal vomited sound into the empty well of the barn, and in the thin moonlight I caught the glint of its last tooth nestled in the straw.