The Owner woke up, eyes still heavy and mind still clunky, at the call of the Horse and Rat. He always wondered if they were happy to see him or just happy, knowing their plates are about to be filled.
Two plates filled and laid down, at opposite ends of the porch. The Horse vaccuumed up the food within minutes. The Rat just stared at his plate. Stared, then shook, then pattered his feet around the plate, then stared again.
The Horse sat after he finished and stared at the Rat. At first, the Owner chased away the Horse, so that the Rat could eat in peace. The Horse dragged his feet around the corner and sat.
But the Rat continued to shake and growl. He was fixed in his place, his body wracked by an enemy not there. The Owner sat down by the Rat and tried to feed him pellets from his hand. The Rat would take it, with the tenderness of a surgeon in front of an open heart, and just lay it by the plate.
The Owner stepped away to sit with the Horse, as the Rat growled and barked and shook until the plate was taken away from him. He neither ate or saw the face of his aggressor.
Fear is paralysis and makes us deluded. We shake in our boots, while often there is no enemy and there is no one to rob us of anything. The enemy is in our minds and we waste an opportunity, to live, to eat, to enjoy, to make something out of our lives. I’m sure we were robbed or roughed up at some point, but those people are long gone. And all we have left is our fear and an empty stomach.