On a warm August evening, with the deep guttural music from a merry-go-round sounding like the drone of a thousand bees signaling the end of summer, a six-year old abused child named Clarisse fell in love with a carousel horse at the county fair.
The flashing lights of the merry-go-round reflected and danced from the horse’s white coat like night fairies in the sultry air. The horse’s eyes, the color of blackberries, shimmered in friendly merriment, causing Clarisse to clasp her hands in glee.
Clarisse had run away from her home to hide beneath a hazelnut tree and watch the carousel. Never had she felt so much delight as she did at that very moment.
The horse’s neck was lifted in a proud prance and her mane and tail flowed like frozen, wind-swept snow drifts. Golden reins matched her golden saddle and hung loosely from her opened mouth. Her legs were held high as if in a regal parade before a queen; and her hooves were painted a deep, gleaming black.
Clarisse waved as the pony made its way before her and disappeared into the shadows around the corner, lifting and falling in gentle strides to the music of the calliope.
She closed her eyes, dreaming and in the waxing night, blanketed by the sounds of the calliope and bathed in the red, green and yellow bulbs mirrored in the twirl of the carrousel, Clarisse sat in the golden saddle and hugged the neck of the white horse she named Angel.
Sitting astride the horse,she saw that Angel, like herself had suffered the abuse of others. She was worn and tired, paint was peeling from her neck, chunks of wood were missing from her torso where riders had callously kicked and dug their heels into her side and her muzzle was rubbed raw.
She covered the hurt and scarred areas with her own bruised hands. “I’ll love you forever,” she whispered in the pony’s ear. “I’ll take care of you, and protect you forever. I promise and when I do, you will grow wings and become real and we’ll fly away together - you’ll see.”
And Angel, her blackberry eyes catching the twinkle of the starlight above them, seemed to nod yes, and gently carried its rider - rising and falling atop the rotating blue-painted floor.
But then a noise, a clang, like the sound of a closing gate awoke her from her dream. She heard footsteps; she froze, but realized they were walking away. She opened her eyes to find herself alone; the fair closed the arcade deserted.
The carrousel stood silent in the moonlight, a white apparition speckled with somber colors, housing a caravan of silent ghosts suspended on brass poles.
She ran to the white pony to find her as she had dreamed. Hurt and scarred; yet beautiful and regal. She once again, as in her dream, touched and tenderly covered the scars with her hands. In trembling voice, she renewed her promise to love and protect her new friend.
And in the stillness, in the quiet of night’s abandonment, Angel swayed in a gentle breeze, her aged, broken body creaking a welcome sigh of acceptance. On the moonlit stage of the canopied carousel she bowed to allow Clarisse to take her golden reins and encourage her with tender touch to move on, move forward…become real, grow wings and fly away.
On this August night, love, which counts no cost, healed and bound horse and rider. Angel rose like Pegasus with Clarisse sitting her golden saddle. Together, with the deep memoried drone of a calliope as their road, they broke the tethers of this life and flew and flew and flew away.
And, because tears distort, neither ever looked back.
The next day people searched for both the missing, battered and worn carousel horse and a seven year-old girl named Clarisse. Neither was ever found, because no one knew where to look. That is until now.
Because I will tell you; but must be patient in your search. For you see, they are there, in the clouds, sometimes hiding, sometimes in plain sight, but there always and forever - just as Clarisse promised a once lifeless carousel horse she named Angel.
Look up; look for them flying free in the sky, free from the hurt of others, free to encourage us all…that if we but care, one for the other, if we but promise to love and protect…that we, too may become real someday and fly away freed at last from this world of hurt and pain to join them.
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