Darkness draped the mountains. The sky was a cloth with starry pinpricks, through which angels watched the land. I crept closer, barely breathing. A twig broke under my boot. I undid the gate’s latch, stepping in with the magnificent beast I had spotted. “Shhhh,” I whispered, running my hand down her smutty mane. She whinnied softly. Freedom, she sighed. Freedom. I saw the red scars on her black coat. The angry lines crisscrossed her back. Blood dribbled from a fresh wound. A tear dripped down my face and splattered on my boots. The wonderful, royal, magnificent mare nosed me, wiped away my tears. Don’t cry, she thought. Freedom. I nodded. Freedom. I unlatched the gate of her too-small stall. I opened the door and stood back. She took one last look at me. Thank you. She galloped away, kicking up dirt, and stepping like the highborn mare she was. Her scrawny, undernourished figure was strangely regal as it was silhouetted against the sunrise. On the far horizon, she stopped and reared, shaking off years of neglect. At that moment, I knew that she truly was Jasna, a queen among horses.
January 24, 2009