I buried my face in her neck, breathing in her deep, earthy sent. Nothing in the world could have torn me away at that moment; my arms were wrapped around her, and her arms around me.
She shivered, and I remembered that she felt uncomfortable near houses. I stepped back and gazed into her eyes, a million shades of blue that I could have watched forever.
For a moment, we were frozen, unmoving and silent, staring silently at each other. It was one of the few times that I felt that real connection, a bond that couldn't possibly be broken.
'Come back later,' I whispered, my voice breaking in the cold of the night.
She opened her mouth as if to speak, but a shrill, piercing neigh broke through the blackness. She flinched and backed slowly away, my eyes locked with hers.
By the time she had reached the trees, all signs of humanity had slithered back into the darkness, and I only had a fleeting glimpse of her sad face before she had turned and cantered away into the woods.
As the sound of hoofbeats grew fainter and fainter, I turned back to the welcoming warmth of the house, stepping from one world into another.
I crossed my arms, let my eyes wander vacantly across the sky and slumped back against the car.
Tracy looked back over her shoulder from the gate, and sighed. 'If you don't wan't to come, don't,' she said. 'But I'm not unlocking that car, so you can stand there and freeze for all I care.'
That was the thing I liked about Tracy. She was brash, and said what she thought. Whatever she said tended to make sense too, so I stuffed my hands in my pockets and walked after her.
Why I had even agreed to come with her to this goddamned farm, I had no idea. It sure beat sitting indoors gazing vacantly out of the window, but tramping through mud wasn't that much of an improvement.
The path was steep, cutting down a hillside from the tiny carpark to the valley below. A farm sat where the grass leveled out, and it looked angry and bulky and grey. I slipped and slid down the path after Tracy, and consideratley banged my shoes on a stile to free the mud that had caught in my trainers.
One particular clump of mud flew and landed on the back of Tracy's cream coat, but it didn't occur to me that I should point it out to her. It looked nice, like an abstract piece of art.
'Right,' she said, when we reached the farm. 'This is the place. Charlie said there were stables somewhere...' She squinted at the crumpled sheet of paper in her hands, unable to desipher her husbands scrawling handwriting.
'D'ja need some help?' A countrified, friendly voice asked behind us. We swiveled around, and both saw a burly farmhand leaning on his shovel at the entrance to a barn.
'Yes, we're looking for the stables.' Typically Tracy, she gave no more information than was nessacary.
'Right over there,' said the helpful farmhand, indicating to the left with a hairy finger. 'Through the trees and out the other side. Janie should be down there, she can help you out with a horse.'
'Thanks,' said Tracy, and she set off.
Once we reached the trees, I hesitated, and she looked back. 'Come on, Al,' she said. 'You've grown out of that now.'
But I hadn't. I couldn't shake off my fear of woods. And I especially couldn't shake of my absolute hatred for horses.