It must have been the middle of the night. It was very dark outside, and the fire was low. The sensation of movement around me, that is what actually woke me up. I looked up quickly, that stallion was standing unsteadily up, and was slowly moving around to face the same way I was. I didn’t feel threatened at all. It looked like agony for him. I was pretty sure he was trying to lay closer to me. I watched him painfully, then said quietly “Are you ok?”

He didn’t say anything until he was done. He moved his hind quarters around like mine were, then moved his front legs slowly until one of his front hooves was right next to mine. Well, he stopped moving when he was close enough, when he gently stepped on my hoof. It must have taken a lot of concentration, what he was trying to do. Maybe he was just sore, I don’t know. Then he laid back down, right there where he was. He moved his hoof right next to mine again, and held it there. I guessed correctly that he wanted to be able to feel me next to him.

Once he was laying back down, he explained. “I… I am going crazy just not knowing… where you are, if you are near… If you are even here any more… I needed to feel you near… I needed to feel you there… I so fear being alone now… If I had died, it would all be over, but now… I can’t see anything, and I will die alone… I can’t see… can’t help myself… at all…” Then he did cry… And even through his tears, he said this. “I swore… I swore I would never, ever be dependent on anyhorse else, ever… They all let me down, Unicorns especially. That was why I left… I had to just to get away from… But now, I can’t even see…” He paused here, then slowly added “I absolutely need… you…” He stopped trying to say anything after that and just cried…

As he lay there crying… It didn’t take me long to realize, if I was in his place… I would be absolutely decimated… If it was me who was out there in that blizzard, and I somehow managed to get back to my house, but couldn’t see… I absolutely would die… And if I didn’t, I would be so completely terrified… My neighbors would probably find me a wreck in the corner of my house, and then bring me to their house, and I would still be a wreck in the corner… Besides, from what I heard, that very same thing happened to me too, when I was a lot younger…

I picked my front leg up and put it on top of his. He cried even harder. “I’m right here. Even though I am a Unicorn, I will do anything I can to help you. Just let me know if there is anything I can do to make this easier for you…” I was crying too, when I was done saying this.

We both cried together for a while, then we tried to go back to sleep. It was surely awkward for both of us. With my hoof over one of his, which it seemed he needed, our heads were… Well, it was hard for our heads to not be close. He tried to apologize at one point. I just said quietly “You need this. It will be ok. And I promise I won’t leave… you…” Saying that was awkward, but it needed to be said, he needed to hear that. It made him cry, which made me cry again.

Somehow, we made it back asleep. I could have slept in again until noon easily. Much earlier in the morning, he nudged my nose with his. I am pretty sure I smiled in my sleep (part of my dream, the only part I remember), but I stayed asleep. He did that a few more times before I woke up. Well, I gasped, being woke up like that. He was very apologetic, and almost started crying. He needed to go to the bathroom really bad. Well, that is not something that is generally worth mentioning. But I realized… I needed to come with him so he could even do that… And, I think there was a certain amount of urgency to this…

Still, I sighed. There was really only one decent way to handle this… I got up, then had him get up, which he slowly and painfully did.  Then I directed him to turn so he was facing the door. Then, I stood in front of him, and asked him to move towards me until he felt my tail. Then I told him to grab one of the hairs of my tail in his teeth. That way I could lead him out to a good place, then lead him back in. A rope would have worked better, but I didn’t have any of that. He cried most of the time; I think he felt really bad about putting me through this. But he went to the bathroom, and I did too… That is just a part of life, I guess. Again, it doesn’t merit discussion, except in this case… Him not being able to see really did make him so very dependent on… me…

We were soon back inside, and I shut the door. Then he asked me to put him a little closer to the fire. I realized that warmth probably felt very nice to him. It would to me. Maybe he needed that. I verbally gave directions to put him closer, and then he laid down on his belly again, facing the fire. Without him asking, I laid on my belly near, but with one of my front hooves next to his front leg, where he could feel that. He cried a little more. I think I was slowly feeling just how hard this was on him.

For over an hour, we both laid there in silence, facing the fire. It was probably around noon now. “Miss, I don’t even know your name yet…”

I didn’t say anything at first. I smiled, because he realized I was a mare. That was a good start, maybe, but I was glad he didn’t see me smile. I thought briefly, then suspected he would understand what I was about to say. Staring mostly into the fire, I said slowly “I don’t want any name. The colts and phillies I grew up with called me all sorts of names, none of them… I decided I don’t want any name. The names I have heard just make me feel terrible…” I stopped in thought again, then added this. “I have met such nice mares here, and they have decided to call me Hope. But… When I hear a name that I like…” Well, I was fighting back tears by then. That part of my past… Those wounds were still pretty close to the surface. But he did put his leg over mine. I did cry for a little while. And when I stopped crying, he moved his leg away.

It was quiet for another hour easily, as we both relaxed in front of the fire. I suppose I should have quessed his next question. But it caught me so by suprise. “And, your stallion?” he asked quietly. That question… Out of the blue… I guess he had not heard…

How did I answer? A LOUD cynical laugh came quickly out, then I burst into tears and cried bitterly. But I knew I needed to answer, to directly answer his question. All I could say: “…will never happen…” I said that twice, then just gave up and cried. That part of my present still hurt a lot too. I honestly doubted that would ever change. I could tell I was small… I could tell my eyes were too close… My magic was wimpy, well, and… I would not wish that, wish me, on anystallion else… Like I said, he would really appreciate me helping him. But when his eyes worked again, he would move on. I had to adjust to that. He was silent as I worked on calming down. “I’m sorry. I can’t change who I am. I apologize if I scared you, I’m fine.”

It was quiet another hour maybe. “Are you hungry?” I asked calmly. I wasn’t hungry… I had not eaten in days, I don’t know…

“A few more oats might be nice” he replied. I again used my magic to get him another clump from my harvest under that big table. I got him quite a bit. I thought his body probably was trying to heal and he needed that. Again, he ate everything. He asked for water, and I had him stand up as I brought the bucket over. It was pretty full. He didn’t drink a lot, then I got a drink before putting it back near the door. He laid back down, then I did too, making sure my front hoof was where he could feel it on his closest front leg.

A little later, I could hear the wind beginning to howl outside. I got up long enough to peek out my front door. It was snowing hard again, and the wind was driving the snow madly. I quickly closed the door. I wanted him to know I did not just leave him alone. So, I said quietly “Blizzard again, outside. I’m so glad…” I think we both started crying at the same time. If I had not found him when I did, he certainly would be dead by tomorrow… I honestly was so glad I had found him… As much as my insides seemed to hurt… I would never wish death on anyhorse… Not even Red, I guess…

It was quiet for a while more, except for the wind. I kept the fire going well, but realized that I would need to bring more logs in from the porch tomorrow. At least that was close. Still, a concern grew on me, slowly, as the evening wandered by. I don’t know if it was just a curiosity, or what. Rather than battle with myself, I said quietly “I’ll bet your mare is really concerned.” I guess I just assumed… It was clear he had so much going for him, of course, he had…

He didn’t answer at first. He didn’t cry either. After a minute, he stoically, quietly said “…will never happen…”, using the exact same phrase my own heart had cried out. And he said it quietly, twice, just like I did. Then it was quiet for a while. I guess after that we both knew where the other stood. Still, I was confident that, once he could see again, he would be gone, and that would be ok. I told myself it would be ok.

After silence for a while, he quietly said this. “If you wish no name at present, then I wish no name as well.” That made me cry, and again, he put his closest front leg over mine until I was most of the way calmed down, and I appreciated that.

The evening marched slowly onward. He was staring towards the fire, in the direction of the fire, and I was watching the bazaarly beautiful vortexes the fire made around the embers leftover from the logs. After what felt like hours of silence, he slowly asked a few questions. I was not really paying attention. It was a little while before he had my full attention, I don’t know…

“Miss, what color is your coat? I mean your horse coat, not…” He stopped there, but I knew what he meant.

And I already knew this. I answered as I watched the fire. “Same color as yours.”

A few minutes later, I was still watching the swirls of heat. He asked “Your mane and tail?”

I again answered without looking away from the fire. “Light brown, a little darker than yours.”

“And your horn?” he asked quietly, maybe a minute later.

I started. “A lot like yours, but your colors are a lot more vivid…” As I said this, I slowly disconnected from the fire, and turned my head to look at him, to look at his face. But I finished my thoughts. “I think your magic is a lot stronger than…”

He was smiling. He must have known he was smiling too. He said quietly “Miss, you sound beautiful to me, for what it is worth.” That was all he said.

I refused to let hope burst forth. Everything I knew about myself… I answered quietly, calmly “I appreciate the compliment. You can decide for yourself once you can see again.” No sense hoping, at all, until that point, I warned myself. Him seeing, that would be the real test. And I expected him to thank me and leave.

We both fell asleep an hour later maybe. Again, I put my closest front leg over his, and our heads needed to be pretty close as we slept. That would just have to work. He needed that, knowing I had not run off or something. Not being able to see, I couldn’t even imagine…

————–

1. The Background Music for this entire story is entitled “The Divine” from the “Forever Today” add-on for the original soundtrack for the “Seekers of Adoulin” expansion for Final Fantasy XI, and is copywritten by Square Enix. Players of FFXI will recognize this tune immediately, and this tune is fitting since a lot of this story takes place in the dead of winter. Please purchase this tune, and play it softly in the background while you read each chapter.

2. This story, “CSR Princess” is vol. 14 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain, and is copyright 2017 by Shysage

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