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He sat, calmly, rocking. Back and forth; to and fro. The horse underneath him wore four wooden shoes mounted on two curved pieces of pine that let the horse canter. The little light brown suede saddle rested on a green felt saddle pad and the horse himself had a mane made of mangled brown yarn. The boy wore jeans and a black long sleeve even though the playa had heat waves rolling up off of it. His sneakers were faded from white to grey. The boy had been starring off into the distance, rocking, for the past twenty minutes.

Wendover, Utah had been home for the boy’s entire life. The Bonneville Salt Flats were his playground. His dad sold gas at the only Chevron station in town and his mom was a maid at the Super 8. On Wednesday’s they had Taco Bell. The salt flats were both beautiful and ugly, at once. Even when he stood on his tip toes, all the boy could see was nothing. A flat expanse of heat waves and silence. The air was too hot and too dry for life. The sky held a blue so bright and vast that the boy would sometimes lay on his back on the flats and feel as if he was drowning. He’d never seen the ocean, though, of course. He imagined it would be something similar. If he laid on the salt for long enough it would begin to itch and tingle against his skin, leaving faint red traces that could only be solved with a shower, lots of lotion, and a nap.

He doesn’t remember when it started. He’s not sure where the first bruise was. He doesn’t remember the first lie he told to cover up what was going on. He does remember wearing long sleeves in the summer with temperatures in the hundreds. Nobody asked about why he was dressed to cover maximum skin area in the heat of the afternoon. Nobody had to ask, because they all already knew. Private life isn’t exactly private in a town with less than 2,000 people in it.

The land speed record was broken at the Bonneville Speedway, not far from home for the boy. Perhaps that’s what he thought of when he sat on his rocking horse. Getting out of town so fast it broke records.

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