The Blue Pony

by Valerie Valdez


Gifted. Zara sees more than she can speak. Feels what others can’t. She is slow when speed is needed. Or quick when it’s not. No sync. She gazed at the vast sky.

“Maybe its a place for me? Where my slow and quick make sense.”

She climbed up a tree. Higher. Higher. And still higher. The clouds pulled her inside. They praised her gifts.

“What are they? I don’t know.” The clouds replied, “You will.”

The teacher said, “All kids will paint a picture. A noble masterpiece.”

She raised her hands high in the air. Up and still up. Zara’s eyes followed the teacher’s fingers up. Past the ceiling to the clouds. Zara imagined painting a gorgeous pony with her as its rider. Other kids drew stick figures living in square boxes. Yawn. Her painting would hang at the highest spot on the classroom’s wall. The other artwork would make the teachers and parents smile.

“How nice.”

They would say in their polite teacher and parent voices. But then their eyebrows would arch at Zara’s painting, and they would sing her praise like a choir.

“What a beautiful portrait of a pony with such a lovely girl rider.” “So amazing.”

“A noble masterpiece.”

Mother surely would hug her extra tight. And still tighter. Then hang it on the family’s dining room wall beside father’s war medals.

Zara decided to paint her pony blue, like the sky, with a white mane, for the clouds. She wanted his eyes yellow, but she dipped the brush in black paint instead. Dark spots stared at her. Fail! Make it right. Clean the brush. She painted another blue pony. Clean the brush. She painted her figure in orange sitting on top of the pony it. Sitting proud. But the brush slipped. It mingled with wet green paint. The colors turned into mud.

Fail again!

Fix it.

Zara mixed more green to the dark spot. She added more orange to her figure, then more green. The lines grew fatter. The paper sagged. Make it right. Other children cleaned up. Zara asked for more paper.

The teacher said, “Sorry, I haven’t got time.” Defeat whispered to her, “You failed, again.” Everyone looked at her.

Fear tightened her throat. No words.

Paint dripped from the sagging paper. A mud puddle on the floor. But Zara refused to believe defeat’s words. She grabbed the wet brushes and painted on the wall. A large blue pony with a white mane and yellow eyes appeared.

The teacher yelled, “Stop.”

Zara still refused. Other kids laughed. She smeared orange paint over her clothes. She whistled. The pony turned its head to look at her. He jumped off the wall. The teacher and other kids gasped. Zara climbed onto its back. They trotted out of the school.

Zara clung to its white mane. The pony trotted quicker. Then slower. Yet it was her quick and slow.

Now it made sense.


The pony jumped into the air. A huge wind lifted them. Higher. Into the vast sky. The clouds pulled them up inside. They cheered. Proud of her.


Her confidence exploded.

“I painted a noble masterpiece.” The clouds replied, “First of many.”

The blue pony stayed in the clouds. It would come to her. If she needed it, again. Mother washed the orange paint off her clothes. Zara put the piece of paper on the wall next to father’s war medals.

Her parents said, “It’s blank.”

But Zara shook her head no.

“It’s a painting of me riding a blue pony.”


Because of autism, I didn’t speak until the age of five, but didn’t get diagnosed until age 42. So, I found my first friends in words. After forty years of working in business, I retired in 2023 to write full time. I consider myself a “Goat Singer”, the ancient Greek term for a storyteller. My life is multi-layered to the hilt with careers in television production, a freelance reporter, and a college professor of theater and film studies, and an office manager for architecture and engineering firms. Recently published online works include “The Venus Inn,” which received an Honorable Mention from the Northwind Writing Award sponsored by Raw Earth Ink Books, and CultureCult Press published “The Alba River” in its anthology, as well as “Sara and Sunlight Midnight” (poems), “The Watched Man and Idiots” (fiction), published in Write or Die Fiction Magazine, and another poem, “Older,” in Pure Slush Magazine.


See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “The Blue Pony”?

The idea of the Blue Pony started in my childhood. While watching a parade, a group of ponies rode by. Of course, I asked daddy for one, and he promised me a pony. And of course, I never got it. My lifelong love of horses stayed with me, and naturally, I even dreamed of a pony and a blue one that I rode into the clouds.

When I started my writing career, that dream returned, but now I was wide awake. Combining my struggles in school, and throughout my life, with autism, I wrote the story in one afternoon.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


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