Remedy for an Excited Amygdala by Billie Hinton

On the first cold night since early last spring fog rolls onto the farm like a tide. I wake to a cloud buckling in the arena, around the barn, down the hill to where the horses eat their hay. It’s fog but my amygdala says smoke.

Then, horses.

Finally, fire.

But they are safe, heads low as they draw strands of hay with their lips into their teeth. Jaws in circular meditation, as calming as yoga. The painted pony reaches to nose the crescent moon lying on its back along his barrel, a beacon of white through the haze. No pointed ears or quickly blown snorts to alert the herd of the fire that burns only in my head.

Still, I smell smoke, so my husband walks to check the far reaches of the farm, disappearing as the hillside bows down to where the honey bees live. I stand at the door, shivery as sunlight wintering through bare branches. He brings a ripe fig, laying it into my hand with tender, calloused fingers.

Instead of biting in fast the way I usually do, I carefully split it in half, its ripeness jammy, pink flesh still warm inside from yesterday’s sun. A ladybug meanders on tiny black legs through the fig, her spotted body burrowed deep in shelter and sustenance.

The sweetness. The split fig perches on the sill, uneaten. Outside the kitchen window sunlight slices through the fog and burns it away.

Photo of horses in the fog
Horses in Fog by Volodymyr Chambray. CC license.

Billie Hinton
Billie Hinton (she/her) is a writer and psychotherapist whose short work has appeared in many journals, most recently in Citron Review, The Hopper (Pushcart nomination), Does It Have Pockets, JMWW, and forthcoming in Door Is A Jar. She’s been obsessed with protecting land and wildlife since kindergarten, when she proudly carried a Smokey The Bear lunchbox, and currently protects 180 acres in the N.C. mountains and the wildlife who live there. She lives in central N.C. on a small farm (certified wildlife habitat and butterfly highway) with her family, horses and donkeys, cats, Corgis, bees, many native plants, and a Golden Retriever who believes in love.

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