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Horseshoes, Falls, and Tears of Joy
“Darkness is just a stage of life. We must undergo many hardships to be able to appreciate the love that comes with pain. To understand that a tear can be for joy or sorrow. We learned how to walk, but it took many falls to achieve it. So my dear daughter I know you will not find my passing to be a grievance but as a sign that happiness is on the horizon. Tis’ your turn to walk and fall on this earth as I have my beloved Winnie, and may the road rise up to meet ya.”
These were the last words of love and comfort Katherine Kearney gave to her daughter, and for some reason it put a smile on the women’s rosy cheeks. Katherine did not wake the next morning, nor was she expected to. Twas the fever that took her, the chill of winter brought it to the cottage on silent wings. Winnie expected to see a complete stranger in her mother’s place, but when she looked down to see what was left of the once strong and brave women, the world fell silent around her. Winnie wanted to say something in response to the sight that lay before her, but instead a single tear slid down her cheek. Not a tear of despair, but of great joy because a sweet and memorable smile still framed her mother’s angelic face.
It has been five years to the day since her mothers death and since she ran away from her home, in the little town of Aglish. No one could believe their eyes when she stepped out of the carriage, in front of her forgotten past. The question of whether or not she should go home to visit her mother’s tomb had been weighing heavily on Winnie’s conscience. She was now seventeen and had gotten a job at a library in Kerry. The book keeper was a kind man who took pity on Winnie’s situation and agreed to give her the week to revisit the nightmare she had tried to escape. She had to go, for her mom’s sake.
The faces of her old life looked as if they to had joined her mother, in a cold forever sleep. Years seemed to pass just in that one moment. Not a word was spoken until a huff of a horse broke the silence. Her father was slowly walking towards them down the hill she once walked down, but with a family. At first the man was a stranger to her, he looked very old with frown lines that seemed chiseled into his ghostly pale profile. But their was something else, something that she didn’t quite understand. At first she believed, or perhaps hoped that her eyes were deceiving her, but when her father stopped in front of her there was no mistaking the huge difference that stole her breath from her lungs.
“O my god” was all she could seem to say, and thats all it took to put a jolly smile on her fathers face. It was the most mystifying thing she had ever seen. A beast a wide as the oldest oak in Ireland, with hair that cascaded down it’s pronounced muscle. It was the color of the reddest autumn leaves with specks of white snow that flurried across it’s silky hide. And cones of feathers engulfed the creatures feet.
“Do you like him?” questioned her father “He is one of the wild Gypsy Vanners, we caught him up on Foxglove Point this morning.”
“Thats a horse?” She couldn't believe it her dad had actually caught a horse. Not just any horse, a wild gypsy vanner. What was he thinking, he could barley keep her mother alive for as long as he did. How was he going to take care of such a needy and time consuming creature. She had to talk him out of keeping it. She would not let him kill another innocent creature.
“So what do you think we should call him, Winnie?”
“huh” How could she tell her own father, who she hadn’t seen in five years, that he was being ridiculous. “I think you should let him go, it’s just to much of a burden, don’t you think? What do you really know about horses anyways?” This single comment ripped the smile from her fathers face and cast it down into the mud in front of them. Then, if everything wasn’t bad enough, it began to rain. Cold fat drops of water were instantly poured onto their heads. Trying to escape the rain, everyone crowed into the small cottage. Nothing says home sweet home like 15 people crowed into one room with all eyes locked you, all eyes except her fathers. Who, of course, was running around back to get his precious horse out of the rain. He’s gone mad, Winnie thought to herself.
When her father came back in, he said five words that left her speech less.
“ Why did you come back?”
“I can’t remember” was all she could say. She couldn’t remember why she would be willing to come back. Then it hit her and she looked up into her father’s eyes and said “I came back for mom.” If she could go back in time just to steal those words from her mouth she would. Many a time she has heard the saying real men don’t cry, well now she knows better because her father is the realest man in the nation and it was not sweat that made his cheek damp. It was all to much, rain or not she couldn’t watch her father cry. She made her way through the mass of people who stood between her and sweet freedom. Without any hesitations, she burst out the door. The rain drenched her within seconds, but she did not care. Trying to get her mind far away from reality, she looked up to the sky where one star shone through the darkness of her life.
“Please help” she whimpered into the night. Her call was answered by a snort that originated from an old shed, on the side of the cottage. Slowly, she walked over to it and grasped the handles and with one slight tug the doors swung open, and something with the force of a freight train flew out, sending her flying through the air. When she landed she was met by a soft, warm body that began to fly through the rain. She was on top of the horse! Realizing what had happened she let out a blood curdling shriek, which caught the attention of everyone inside. Soon the cottage had emptied and a mob of people were madly sprinting after her. The rain whipped her face and the wind stung her eyes but she still clung to the coarse hair between her fingers. Then a voice offset the pounding of her heart.
“Let go” it urged. She couldn’t for she would surly die. “You have to let go.” What could it mean. Then she knew it meant she had to let go of her fears, and of her sorrows. So she let go. She slid off the back of the horse and fell right on her butt and the mud carried her down the hill. She could see the light of the cottage in the distance and hear the voices on the wind, but that is not drew her attention. It was the horse that slowly trotted over to her and laid down by her side. Like a puppy who just shredded your pillows, he laid his head on her lap and looked into her eyes. When her father arrived she stood up and announced.
“I think we should name him Diarmuid”