It was a cool Autumn day and Charlotte was sitting in her bedroom looking out the window, as usual. She was dreaming her favorite daydream, the one where she finally got to call that pony who galloped through her dreams every night her own. Almost as if on cue, a truck and horse trailer pulled down the long, dusty driveway of her neighbor’s property.
“What would the Miller’s be doing with a horse trailer?” Charlotte thought out loud.
The Millers were an older couple who were almost like second grandparents to Charlotte. At twelve years old, she wasn’t interested in boys, music, or even TV, she would rather spend her extra time in Mrs. Miller’s kitchen helping her bake her famous apple pies, or out in the barn with Mr. Miller watching as he tinkered with his latest mechanical project. Charlotte’s parents both worked, and so when the big, yellow school bus dropped her off in the afternoons, she would run straight to the Millers and entertain herself until she heard her mother calling her for dinner.
A Little Black Pony Arrives Next Door
Charlotte watched with interest as the truck and horse trailer stopped just in front of the Miller’s barn. A gruff looking man going out of the truck and walked around to open the back of the horse trailer. Charlotte heard the unmistakable “neigh” from inside the trailer and she pulled herself up so close to the window that she was breathing on the glass. The gruff man disappeared into the trailer and quickly walked out leading the shaggiest, little black pony that Charlotte had ever seen. His ears were pricked forward and he was trying his best to reach down for a bite of grass, but the gruff man just pulled him along toward the barn. Mr. Miller came out to greet him, a few words were exchanged and the gruff man handed over the lead. Mr. Miller disappeared into the barn with the pony.
Jumping up so fast that she almost knocked over her bedside table, Charlotte dashed out of her room, down the stairs and out the front door of the house. She crossed the front yard quick as a rabbit and squeezed through the three-rail fence without missing a beat. Mr. Miller was just closing the door to the old stall inside of the barn, which had been empty as long as Charlotte had known them, when she skidded to a stop in the barn.
“Mr. Miller, who was that man?” Charlotte asked, out of breath. “You got a pony? Can I see him? Is it a him or is it a her?”
“Now hold on there, sweetie,” Mr. Miller said, a smile on his face. “I did indeed get a pony, and I don’t rightly know is name. I guess he hasn’t got one yet.”
“What do you need with a pony?” Charlotte questioned.
Mr. Miller smiled and scratched his head. “Well, I have that back pasture and I’m a little tired of mowing it all the time. Thought a pony might be good to keep the grass down.”
“You got a pony for a lawnmower?” Charlotte asked, furrowing her brow.
“I guess you could say that,” Mr. Miller said. “Why don’t you have a look at him, you can help me give the little feller a name.”
He’s Shaggy, Yet Beautiful
Charlotte went over to the stall and looked inside. The little black pony stood inside and looked up at her. He had soft, liquid eyes. With a toss of his head and a shake of his mane, he pranced around the stall as if to show off to his new audience. His shaggy coat made him look older than he acted, but Charlotte thought he was beautiful.
“Wow, he’s pretty,” Charlotte said.
“You think so?” Mr. Miller asked. “I think he’s a little bedraggled looking myself, but I’m sure with some brushing he’ll clean up okay.”
“Can I help? I could brush him every day!” Charlotte exclaimed.
“Sure, sure, you can brush him any time ya want to little lady. Seems to me a pony does best with a little girl looking after him,” Mr. Miller said. “How about that name?”
Charlotte thought for a minute and then a smile came across her face. “How about Prince Charming?”
“Prince Charming, eh?” Mr. Miller laughed. “Seems a bit name for a little horse.”
“Okay, how about Prince?”
“Sounds like you found a winner,” Mr. Miller said.
Prince and Charlotte Spend Every Day Together
Charlotte spent every day after school at the Millers looking after Prince. The days got shorter and the air got colder. Even though it was winter, Prince’s shaggy coat thinned out a bit with Charlotte’s daily brushing, and a bright gleam started to appear. Charlotte would take Prince on long walks on the weekends, and after school, she would go out into the little pasture where Mr. Miller let him stay and do her homework as he grazed nearby.
There was nothing in the world that Charlotte wanted more than to have Prince as her very own pony, but her parents told her that they just couldn’t take on the burden. She would have to make do with visiting him and looking after him as long as the Millers would let her.
As Christmas approached, Charlotte’s parents asked her what she wanted from Santa. She didn’t believe in Santa anymore, she was twelve years old after all, but the only thing she wanted she knew she couldn’t have. She told them that she would be happy with whatever she happened to get, and left it at that.
A Christmas Wish
On Christmas Eve, Charlotte sat at her bedroom window looking out on a full moon night. She could see Prince grazing in the little pasture and she thought she saw a star shining brighter than usual in the sky. Something told her to make a wish, and so she did, just before she whispered “Good night, Prince” and crawled into bed.
The next morning Charlotte got up and ran downstairs. She knew that her mother would be making Christmas morning breakfast, but she wanted to say good morning to Prince first. She went to run out the door and her mother grabbed her by the arm.
“Hang on there, where do you think you’re going?” Charlotte’s mom asked.
“Just going to say hi to Prince before breakfast.”
“You aren’t even interested in what’s under the tree for you?” Charlotte’s mom asked with a smile.
“No, I’d rather say hi to Prince.”
“Why don’t you go have a look,” Charlotte’s mom said as she led her into the living room.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller were standing in the living room. Mr. Miller was holding a pretty new, red halter and lead rope. Charlotte was confused.
“Now Charlotte, we’re getting up in age and it just doesn’t seem right for us to have a perfectly good pony when there’s a little girl who could be a better friend to him,” Mr. Miller said with a smile.
Charlotte’s eyes welled up with tears. “Do you mean…?”
Charlotte looked around the room at her parents and the Millers, who all had big smiles on their faces. She ran over to her mom and dad and gave them big hugs, and then she ran over to Mr. and Mrs. Miller.
“The deal is he can stay at our place, but he’s your pony. You have to take care of him,” Mr. Miller said, and then added, “but I know you will.”
Charlotte flung herself into the Miller’s arms with tears running down her face. “This is the best Christmas I’ve ever had! My wish came true.”
Feature Image Design: Sharon Jantzen