A pink form appears in my visual periphery. I’m deep in proofreading a two-thousand-word magazine essay, so I don’t look up straightaway.
At my age it is effortful to read small print properly, particularly at this early hour and in the “warm white” (read: yellow) light of my desk lamp. I make a mental note: must use white light.
The pink shifts tentatively and hops closer. Her mane is tousled. I smile when I arrive at a period. “Hey, Pinky. Why are you up so early?”
My imaginary horse leaps up onto my tabletop soundlessly and sniffs hopefully at my mug. I still drink my coffee with a dollop of condensed milk, so no luck there. Big Guy, who likes his coffee black, won’t be up till about 7am.
Pinky rests her head on the edge of my MacBook, the way a dog might. A little wistful, she seems to have matured of late. Strange that’s possible for a mini pink horse. Strange I’m even thinking about it.
I twirl her mane with my little finger. “Can’t sleep?” I ask.
Pinky shrugs with a resigned air. I’m about to resume my reading when she mutters, “He doesn’t like me anymore.”
I know. “He’s a big boy now, Pinky.”
“He prefers the other animals,” she says. There is no trace of jealousy in her voice.
The schoolboy has a host of new imaginary pets – the dog, cat, hamster, monkey, gorilla, penguin, duck, pig, rooster, parrot – who unfailingly greet our family in a fixed order.
“Maybe that’s what it’s like when children have a new sibling,” Pinky says, still in a thoughtful whisper.
Now I definitely stay my reading. Does my pet horse know? It’s only been six weeks and I’m not showing yet.
Jocelyn Lau does too many things to answer the question “what do you do?” properly. Mainly though, she edits and writes and thinks about the meaning of life. She lives with imaginary animals too, one of which appears in her new collection of microfiction, The Life of Pinky: A Horse and her Boy.