Waking from her dreamless sleep to the soft caress of the sun’s first rays, the young woman stretched to greet them. Allowing herself to be sung into full wakefulness by the birds’ joyful song, proclaiming a new day had indeed been born, perfect, unblemished and as yet untouched, she dressed her face with a smile and climbed out of bed.
As she approached the sleeping fire, whose bright orange embers still slept beneath a heavy blanket of grey wood ash, she sensed movement outside, caught for a moment in the corner of her eye, but not staying long enough for her mind to name. At once curious, she left the fireplace in its rest and opened the door to the garden, breathing in the morning’s gift of fresh air and preparing to meet the movement her eye had briefly seen, but her whole had yet to know.
There, grazing peacefully on grass that had yet to drink its fill of dew, was the movement she had seen. A beautiful white horse, graceful and strong, stood its ground in the garden of her humble home with the contentment and confidence of one who knew his place was exactly where he now stood. The very earth beneath his hoofed feet welcomed each gentle step and he expressed no wish to flee as the young woman’s star struck stare bore into his being.
Slowly, but clumsily, in that not quite awake state that was mixed with the confusion of emotions now singing through her body, the young woman made her way towards the horse. As she did so the creature looked up and unflinchingly met her gaze, holding its proud head high and nickering a beckoning. She came closer and reached out a hand to stroke his neck and ruffle her fingers through his mane. ‘Welcome’ said her hands, though no sound left her lips. The reply, when it came, was no less clear and equally unspoken, albeit deeply heard.
‘To find what you seek you must leave this place’.
Startled by the unexpected nature of the truth the horse’s presence had conveyed, the young woman barely registered her new found friend bending one front leg and bowing his head in an invitation to her to climb onto his back. He gently nudged her foot with his nose and nickered again to bring her back to awareness. With care and rising joy she climbed onto his back, weaving her fingers into his mane to hold on, as he raised himself up and immediately took off, leaving the cottage, the woods and the river behind without even the briefest backward glace.
The door to the cottage remained wide open. The fire fell into a permanent sleep. The sound of hooves meeting the earth at a gallop drummed a powerful rhythm beneath a voice raised true and pure in celebration, singing for a new found friend and the journey into freedom that was just beginning.
For part one go to: