This is an incredibly odd short story about maternal and material love. Hester is a woman dissatisfied with her husband, her children and her wealth. On the outside she seems the perfect mother, but inside she is continually anxious about her place in society and feels nothing but coldness toward her family. She puts her social aspirations before anyone else, ensuring that she appears upper class when in actual fact she lacks the financial means to keep it up.
She describes her lack of wealth as ‘unluckiness’, having married an unlucky husband and is living an unlucky life. One of her children, her son Paul, asks what luck actually is. She describes it as the means to be wealthy, and when he declares himself lucky she smiles but doesn’t believe him.
Paul decides to prove himself to his mother. He rides his toy rocking horse in a crazed frenzy, demanding that it take him to where the luck is. He is determined to do anything to gain this ‘luck’ so as to gain his mother’s love, but how can he do it? How far will he go to keep his mother happy?
As I said, this is a very odd little story. It plays on a whole host of Freudian themes and Paul’s infatuation with making his mother happy is quite disturbing to read, as is his mother’s complete lack of love or affection for him. The disparity between wealth and happiness becomes less and less obvious as the story goes on, to the point where Paul’s obsession with luck is infused with his desperation for his mother’s approval.
You don’t get short stories like this nowadays – bizarre, ego-free, unique tales that are thought-provoking yet do no entirely work. It gives you pause for thought but not a lot beyond that, making it more of an impression of an idea rather than an experience. The imagery is horrific and often made me think back to my feelings surrounding We Need to Talk About Kevin, but I doubt I’ll recall the details of the Rocking Horse Winner in a few months time.
Worth a read just as a bedtime horror story. You can read this short story by clicking here.