Once there was a donkey and his name was Bertus. He lived in a stable, located at the edge of the forest, together with three huge, gleaming polished horses. Well, not actually together. They each had their own stall, but if they craned their neck around the corner of the stall door they could see each other. Although Bertus was well cared for by his owners he was still unhappy. Every morning he brayed a cheerful good morning to his neighbours, but only got haughty snorts in reply. And, although he followed them with a jaunty step when they were let out onto the pasture every day, not one of the horses found him worthy enough to play with or to let him graze together with them. Bertus really felt quite lonesome.
One day while he was chewing on some hay out of boredom with his head hanging out of the doorway to his stall – the door had been lowered just for him – a lady donkey came by. His big donkey ears pricked up like a double erection and braying loudly he asked: ‘Hey, who are you?’ The lady donkey, a true feminist, looked at him somewhat condescendingly and sneered back in response that she wasn’t about to give her name to any Tom, Dick or Harry and then pattered past his stall on her way to the forest. ‘Are you allowed to just go into the woods by yourself?’ asked Bertus after her. ‘Of course,’ replied the lady donkey. ‘I am the boss of myself. I can go and hangout where ever I like.’ Her answer gave Bertus a lot to think about. He wanted to be his own boss too, but more importantly he didn’t want to be lonely any more.
Actually, Bertus was pretty smart for a donkey. For some time now he knew how to open the door to his stall. He just had no reason to leave his stall and go wandering about by himself. Until now that is. He would wait until it was dark. Bertus felt so excited he wanted to bray loudly and let everyone know, but he managed to hold it in. Instead, when the time came, he lay his ears back flat, stretched his neck out as far as possible around the corner and with his long teeth grabbed the door latch. After a bit of donkey-like fumbling about he managed to open the door and quietly stepping hoof by hoof, he slipped out of the barn. Sleepily opening his eyes one of his well-polished neighbours looked at him in surprise and in a chic tone snorted: ‘where do you think you are going?’
‘From now on I am my own boss’, Bertus squeaked. He found his own submissive demeanour irritating and swore to himself that from now on he would not only be a free donkey but also a confident donkey. He disappeared into the night, head held high, ears proudly pointing forward and bringing his knees as high as he could as he trotted by. When he thought he was far enough from home, he took a deep breath and let loose all the excitement that he had kept bottled up. Bertus brayed and bellowed like he had never brayed before. He galloped about just as he imagined free donkeys should do and went in the direction where, he hoped, the lady donkey would be waiting for him. And just maybe they lived together happily ever after.
Dedicated to Bertus, my forest neighbour’s donkey.