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by Carmen Ruggero

A Tall Tale and the Flying Wheat Tail

It was long, long ago when I sat on my father’s lap to hear a bedtime story; one I’d heard night after night after night. Father knew tales of a valiant lad who fought for his land’s glory, or the mischievous doe, or the girl so fair — so long was her hair, she used it to sweep the story.

But the sweetest to my ear was the one about a little horse. And though I’d heard it many times before, the ending was different each time it was told. “And once upon the time...” my father said, with a rock and a pat, my head close to his heart, “there was a little white horse with...”

“No, Dad, the horse was yellow.”

“So he was yellow and had a long... long... tail and his name was... Yellow Horse.”

And as my father spoke, Yellow Horse, as real as a story horse could be, came to me gently gliding through the sky on a filmy cloud of smoke. He was a tiny little horse with long feathery lashes and eyes black as the night, blazing silver as the stars.

But his mane was not yellow at all. It was the color of wheat: creamy and pale. And so I gave him a new name: Trigal , which means “wheatfield” in Spanish.

I called to him aloud. He turned to look at me and shook his mane as if having understood, in as close to a horsie wave as he could. He stood on his vaporous cloud, and his eyes beckoned me to come for a closer look. He lowered his front legs inviting me to climb.

I held my legs fast around his body, bent forward, and clung tightly to his neck, my face next to his mane. “You smell like thyme,” I said politely.

Trigal stepped off the little cloud and began to gallop with me on his back, holding fast, my eyes closed, laughing aloud!

He ran faster, faster, as I held on tighter and tighter, filling the silence with laughter. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, though I didn’t hear his voice.

“Did you speak, Trigal?”

He didn’t respond. My storybook horse sped across the meadow, splashing as he raced through the brook. His mane tangled with petals — purple, red and yellow. He was faster than lightning, and soon his long, long, tail spread like feathery wings of wheat, and he began to fly.

We were way above the clouds, gliding gently through the sky. “Do you like this?” he asked.

Again, I knew what he said, but never heard a sound. “How do you speak, horsie? Why can’t I hear your voice?”

He slowly turned to face me, and when he looked into my eyes, I saw my face reflected in his black, shiny gaze and knew his thoughts and my thoughts were one and the same. “Where are we going, Trigal?”

“Somewhere left of the moon, and south of the morning star.”

“Is that very far?”

“No! We’re here in fact.” And a riveting sight it was! Castles made of chocolate, trees laden with sugar puffs, bathtubs filled with cream, hair ribbons made of fluff, children dancing in the street, mothers singing soothing rhymes, lulling little ones to sleep. It was the land of imagination, my horsie said. “What do you fancy? How do you see yourself, lass?”

“I like to dance!” And no sooner said... just like magic, I was dancing, twirling, pirouetting through the sky! “Look at me. I can dance!”

But I stopped when I saw Trigal turning back. He smiled at me and, with his lashes, fanned a goodbye.

“Don’t leave me horsie, don’t... I want to go home!”

“You are home, silly girl, imagining your life.”

“No! I’m left of the moon, south of the morning star.”

“Well, that’s just where I found you, asleep on your father’s lap.”

Copyright © 2010 by Carmen Ruggero

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