The Horse and the Goose
The Horse & the Goose is a short story written by Amartey Golding and Emily Robinson for the film Bring Me To Heal (Fire) .
The story draws from African storytelling traditions and brings together two characters inspired by the ancient Briton landmark the Uffington white horse and the Ghanian Ashanti Adinkra symbol 'Sankofa'.
The Horse & The Goose
There once was a Horse who had been running for as long as all the animals could remember. He galloped over snow tipped mountains and raced across towering ridges, he pounded across the shingle with the strength to split the stones beneath him, his white coat like dry bones in the moonlight.
One warm summer evening, as Goose and his family nestled by the pond preparing for bed, Goose heard a gentle rumbling. Before he had a chance to get out of the way, the mighty Horse ran over them. He ran so fast and stomped so hard that they all got thrown up into the air.
In the chaos, Goose got caught in the Horse’s mane and was carried off over the horizon, away from his wife and children who lay scattered on the ground.
‘Stop! Stop!’ The Goose pleaded. He cried and he screamed until his voice hurt but the Horse didn’t reply.
‘Oh Horse, why did you trample over me and my family? What did we ever do to you?’ Goose cried.
But the Horse just snorted and said ‘If you don’t run, then you get run down’ and he carried on running.
Day turned to night and night turned to day and the Horse did not stop.
After a long time, Goose asked ‘Are you not going to stop even to eat or drink from the lake? Are you not going to rest even for a moment?’
But the Horse kept galloping.
The Horse continued running until the fields turned to forests and he ran right through the badgers foraging beneath the trees. He kept running until the forest reached the sea where he trampled over the whales diving through the depths of the Ocean. He kept running until the sea met the desert, galloping right through the gazelle playing in the dunes.
Each time the Goose cried ‘Oh Horse, what have those creatures ever done to you?’ And each time the Horse would reply ‘If they don’t run, then they get run down.’
This continued for hundreds of years. The world which once seemed so vast to the Goose now seemed small as they had circled it more times than the Goose could count.
The once beautiful and lush meadows became churned up by the Horse’s galloping hooves and the Goose watched the demise of many rare and beautiful creatures, trampled by the Horse’s feet.
After all these years spent with the Horse, the Goose still couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t stop.
Then one day, the Horse’s hooves called up to him from the ground. ‘Have we not circled the earth more times than you can count, always doing as you ask? You have made us enemies of the Geese and the Badgers, the Whales and the Gazelle. Please, Horse, we cannot go on any longer. Please let us rest.’
But the Horse ignored the cries of his hooves, pushing them to go even faster until one by one, exhausted, they fell off.
‘Surely now you must stop?’ The Goose cried.
But the Horse continued running on his legs, leaving his hooves behind in the dirt.
Then as evening came, the Horse’s legs called out to him.
‘Have we not crossed the oceans more times than you can count, always doing as you ask? Please, Horse, we cannot go on any further. Please let us rest.’
And just like with his hooves, the Horse ignored the cries of his legs, pushing them to go even faster until one by one, his exhausted legs fell away.
‘Surely now you must stop?’ The Goose cried.
But the Horse continued on his belly.
As the moon started to rise, the Horse’s body cried out. ‘Have we not already climbed up to the tallest mountains and down through the deepest valleys more times than you can count, always doing as you ask? Please, Horse, we cannot go on any longer. Please let us rest.
But the Horse ignored the cries of his body, pushing it to go even faster until, exhausted, his body fell to the earth, leaving his head alone on the ground.
At once the Goose realised he was free from being entangled in the Horse’s mane and he jumped up, stretching his feathers.
But he had been trapped for so long on the Horse’s back, that his legs had forgotten how to walk, his wings had forgotten how to fly and his family no longer knew who him.
He looked down at the Horse’s head lying in the dust and said ‘Oh Horse, surely now, after losing everything, now you must stop?’
As the Horse had no lungs he could only speak with the wind that passed through his mouth.
He looked up at the Goose and said ‘If I don’t run, I will be run down.’
In that moment the Goose realised that the Horse had been running because he was so very afraid. And he wondered what could have happened to make him run so hard for so long.
With that thought, Goose scooped up what was left of the Horse, before his fear could soak into the ground and seep into the rivers to be consumed by the other animals.
He placed him inside one of his eggs and nestled him between the feathers on his back.
In time, the pastures which were once so churned up regrew and the animals who had been trampled and scattered, thrived again.
The Goose spent many years teaching the Horse all the things that, in his panic, the Horse had forgotten, everything he knew about the beauty of the world and the origins of all the animals, including the Horse.
Finally able to rest, the Horse started to regrow and asked for forgiveness from the parts of himself he had so readily discarded and eventually the Horse was ready to leave the protection of the egg.
All the animals were nervous but the wise Goose smiled and gently cracked the shell.