We’re celebrating Pinky’s birthday. The preschooler and I have chosen a one-kilogramme rainforest cake – as pink as can be – with a picture of Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony on it. We think the character best resembles our friend, although we take care not to say the word ‘pony’ in front of her, because she might object. Back when Big Guy called her a smartass, she wasn’t flattered. “I’m a proper horse!” she retorted, “And, I’m not American.” We don’t want to upset our pet on her special day.
Actually, we have no idea when Pinky was born, or how old she is. “We don’t have birthdays, silly,” our horse had scoffed when we asked. “Only mortals mark occasions like that.”
Nevertheless, Pinky loves attention, so she is pleased we decided on 8 June for her birthday – June being the Month of the Horse in the Chinese calendar, and eight being the preschooler’s favourite number.
We settle around our IKEA glass-topped dining table, and Big Guy inserts a single big pale pink candle in the cake.
The preschooler giggles loudly. “Pinky is only one year old! Pinky is a baby…!”
“Oh, Russell!” objects the horse. “I’ve been around longer than you can imagine!”
“It’s just representative, dear,” I say distractedly.
“Happy-santa-tea?” The preschooler frowns, a finger poised over the face of the Pegasus pony. “Mummy, am I four-and-three-quarter years old?”
“Not yet, dear,” I say, holding on to the preschooler’s hand, “we have to sing the birthday song first.”
Now we draw the curtains and shut the lights. Pinky is beside herself with excitement. Big Guy lights the candle and we sing “Happy Birthday” in English and Chinese, and then in English once again. Pinky knows she is to close her eyes, make a wish, and blow out the candle.
“Mummy, am I four-and-three-quarter years old?” the preschooler repeats, this time licking three fingers.
“Not yet, dear. In November you will be,” I tell him. “Now use a spoon.”
The preschooler demolishes the slice of cake I’ve given him on a plate. “Is Pinky one hundred years old?” he says with his mouth full.
“Well, we don’t know for sure,” I fumble. “Pinky seems to be saying she’s been around for quite a while.”
“They don’t call me a Baroque horse for nothing, you know,” Pinky adds, proudly.
The preschooler laughs. “Mummy, Pinky is a rock horse!”
I wince, but our pet horse is too busy licking up the cream from her plate to react.
Jocelyn Lau is a Singaporean writer and editor. LIFE OF PINKY is a collection of very short fiction pieces based on a real imaginary horse, Pinky, that lives with her family. Visit: http://www.kucintabooks.com.