—Happy birthday sleepy head! Wake up!
Brooklyn, my big sister opened my door. I yawned.
—Oh yeah! It’s my birthday! I cried.
How did you forget, Will? asked Michael, my little brother.
—Of course! January 17th! I’m seven!
I raced downstairs to open my presents, laid on the breakfast table.
Coloured pencils, a lamp, some legos. I had one present left. I opened the wrapper very carefully, as I always do.
—Rip it! Micheal urged. Inside, I discovered a small stuffed horse. He was brown, with a golden mane, and a white spot just below the left ear.
—He’s so beautiful! I exclaimed.
—Your aunt sewed him after visiting Sable Island, my dad said.
—So you’re a Sable Island horse, eh buddy? You need a name. I’ll call you… Perling.
I laid out all my gifts on the coffee table and smiled. I grabbed Perling, pressing him tightly against my chest as I lay down on the couch. I was beginning to doze off, when I suddenly felt the wind storm into the house and lift the couch off the ground! My eyes shut, I grabbed onto the couch with one hand, holding Perling with the other as the wind carried us up, straight through the roof and away. I no longer heard my family calling my name. Suddenly, a strong gust pulled Perling out of my hand.
—Noooooo! My voice got lost in the wind as Perling disappeared into the sky. All at once, everything got calmer, and the temperature started to rise. The couch slowly landed; it felt good to be on steady land again. I stood up on the snowy ground. There were hills, all around me. Sand dunes. Massive sand dunes. I could hear the roaring of ocean waves somewhere nearby. That’s when I realized: I was on Sable Island! I recognized it from photos. But the green of the dune vegetation was gone, replaced by a sandy golden, as the leaves of the beach grass had died. I shivered in my pyjamas. Still, it wasn’t as cold as at my house back in Halifax and there was way less snow on the ground. I noticed a very unpleasant smell and heard weird moaning noises; I wondered what they were.
With the sun shining on the snow, the island was even more beautiful than I had imagined. I felt lonely though, and longed for Perling. I had lost him! I wondered if I’d ever get back home, and how? I pushed these thoughts away and started exploring the island.
As I walked on the sandy dunes, I noticed some seals, but I couldn’t see the ocean. It surprised me that seals would venture so far from the water. Well, I’ve already learned something, I thought.
As I raced up a dune, my feet digging into the sand, I finally saw them. The famous Sable Island Wild Horses. They were majestic, and had thick, woolly coats. The long winter hair around their head and neck gave them a weird big-headed look. Two horses were wrestling in the centre, a young one and an older stallion. The young horse had a thicker coat and was brown with a golden mane and a white spot below the left ear. It was Perling! I just knew it! Intrigued, I walked closer. The old horse bit Perling just on his white spot. It started to bleed. I bit my fingernails, nervous. Perling stood up on his hindlegs and chased his opponent off, then turned around and trotted towards me. I greeted him with petting on the snout and neck.
—Hi Perling! So you landed on Sable Island like me, buddy? That’s a pretty severe scar you have there, I said examining his wound. Then, he swiftly trotted off. He looked over his shoulder, inviting me to follow. He paused, waiting for me to catch up. He led me to the beach. My jaw dropped; there were seals everywhere! That’s where the stench (now almost unbearable) and moaning noises came from! I then remembered what I heard in a documentary: in winter, Sable Island becomes the largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world—more than 400,000 seals! Well, I had no trouble believing that, considering all the seals in front of me. Perling trotted through them and the seals did not seem to mind. But as I tried to approach an adorable, snow-white seal pup, the mother chased me off aggressively.
I carefully made my way around the seals and caught up with Perling. He trotted for a while, as I ran by his side. We passed several horse family bands grazing together. We’d been trotting around the island for about an hour when it struck again. The wind. Without warning, the sun disappeared and violent gusts hit us. I leaned against Perling, and we followed a stallion band to the sheltered side of a dune, where they huddled together, tails pointed towards the wind.
As fast as it started, the wind stopped and the sun came out again. I was exhausted, and I could tell Perling was too. I sat down in the sand, looking at him, listening to the waves. The gold of his hair shone in the late-day sunlight. He stared at the waves, the seals, the other horses roaming free. I could tell Perling was just happy to be here, to be alive. I shut my eyes.
I woke up on my couch, in my house in Halifax. How did I get back here?
—Remember this morning, when the couch went straight through the roof? It carried me to Sable Island!
—I think you must’ve dreamed, Sweetie.
—I guess…. It seemed so real though…. I hugged Perling gently. Even as a stuffy, he looked just like the real Perling. That’s when I noticed he had a rip right on his white spot, where the stallion had bit him.
—Well buddy, I told him, maybe it wasn’t a dream after all!
by Laurie © 2020
Age 12, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
One of the two winning entries submitted to the Sable In Words writing contest for youth ages 12-14 years
Sable Island Institute