He had been learning to ride a horse. Old-man Tanner had set up the saddle for him but as he climbed on the horse shuddered, perhaps at the same breeze that made Grindleby shudder. Except Grindleby was affected much more deeply than the horse was. The wind shocked him and the horse's quivering turned it into a collapsing beast in the young man's eyes. He would be crushed under the immense weight of the horse. He would die on that day, on that moment.
Grindleby vaguely recalled screaming at the top of his lungs and releasing his grip on the saddle before falling over backwards and landing on his head. A flash of brilliant colours, and then nothing.
It had happened again.
He sat up on the ground and looked around. He followed his ears to the unending cacophony of children's laughter coming from the youngsters under Tanner's old oak and then followed his nose to the brown-green mass of gunk to his left. "Not cow-pat. Is horse-pat even a word? I doubt it...", Grindleby thought as he rose to his feet. Even though the moment had passed, his knees buckled at the thought of the horse, and he fell again. And here he sat until the laughing finally faded as the children ran home when Tanner returned to the pen.
He was a giant of a man. He was taller than anyone in the town and leagues above everyone in strength. He won every test of strength thrown at him, but Grindleby doubted that he had even tried very hard at any of them.
The young man stared. He often dreamed of what he would do if he had Tanner's strength. He would fear nothing, and be an inspiration to all... if only.
"Perhaps you should seek the wizard," Tanner said, his voice deep and strong yet friendly, "He ought to have something to fix you right up." He went over to the horse on the far side of the pen and tugged at it's reins. He began to guide it back to the stable, where it would stay until it was needed once more. Grindleby would not be the one in need of it.
"I want to solve this problem on my own," Grindleby replied, his voice like that of a squirrel compared to Tanner's. "What kind of man would I be if I sought out the easiest solution to my..." He paused.
"I prefer not to call it that."
"What would you prefer?"
"I think of it more as a challenge to be overcome."
Tanner looked puzzled at the concept, but smiled and said, "Whatever helps you conquer it. But it'd be a whole lot of help if you could take the instant solution that the old man on the hill most obviously has."
"I've been thinking about it. But did anyone ever become great without a struggle?"
There was a brief silence, "I suppose you have a point there, Grindleby." Tanner concluded as he locked the stable doors. "Well, we're done here. Or I am, at least. Make sure to get home before dark. I wouldn't want your parents worrying."
"Sure thing, Tanner." he replied. But he didn't stand back up, he instead lay back.
He looked up at the orange sky as the stars began to make their presence known. He lay back on the ever cooling ground and took in the fading daylight. In the past, Grindleby would stare at this for hours until sleep took him by force. His parents would look for him all through the night while he slept unwillingly.
But he had changed. He had improved over the years in many ways. Grindleby stood up and looked above the trees at the moon. It was at that moment that he swore on the moon to become the best man he could possibly be. To become the person he always dreamed of. To not be afraid. He would conquer his fear. He broke a branch from a nearby tree and used the splintered end to carve the moon onto his forearm, lest he forget his oath.
Most might think him a silly young man, but had they looked into his eyes they would have seen stars, blazing into eternity. And they would believe.
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