We had clearly gone to sleep early, and slept a long time. But I woke up the next morning and realized… I had to go… The stallion was not awake yet, and I was just not sure what to do. So… while scolding myself, yet thoroughly enjoying… I woke him up the same way I had before, with my nose on his. It was easier now, since I was still on his back. And it felt nice… No, I… He woke up right away, smiled briefly, then was thinking. I was glad he could not see that him smiling made me smile, then want to cry a bunch. Wow, this was not really the best way for me to start the day…

I think he quickly realized why I woke him. “I… How will you get down?” he asked, clearly puzzled.

“I think my head will let me walk, at least. I just need to get down carefully.” Well, I tried. His hind legs were out to the side, and so I tried to slide down on the other side, to avoid stepping where I probably shouldn’t. I slid quickly, and fell off, and rolled onto my back on the wood floor. I actually held my head away from the floor, and so my head didn’t hit. My back hit, but harmlessly flipped me over on my other side, facing away from him. I started laughing. It just seemed very funny to me. I had been snug on his back for a few days, and now I couldn’t even walk any more. Well, I wanted him to know I was ok, too. My head was not real happy, but it didn’t hurt a lot.

I slowly worked on standing up, glad he couldn’t see that either. This proved a little more difficult than I would have guessed, but I was soon standing up, with my head up too. My head didn’t hurt very bad. But I did stand there for a minute trying to decide. I just asked. “Stallion, should I hurry, or do you think you should come?” These words came out slowly because I was trying to carefully phrase the question. I really didn’t want to be away… But that shouldn’t…

“You… I would rather come if you don’t mind. And I don’t think we should ever undo the rope thing while we are outside.” Well, I knew he was fighting back tears. And, he was probably right. Of course, I smiled right away, then tried to force a frown, glad again he couldn’t see… I carefully put another log on the fire, then asked him to get up. I tried to look away, none of that should even matter… We needed to just wait and see…

I directed him over to the door, opened it, then directed him out. Then I followed him out and closed the door. It was morning, and cold. And I realized that, since he had me on his back, he didn’t have my old coat on. That was not a problem at all, with me being on his back (a comfort to me), until I was actually off his back, like now. I had worn my new coat the whole time. But my old coat, that the stallion was wearing, it was probably still buried in the snow near the pond. I connected the clip, and led him around back, then we both took care of what we had to. Then I led him around, and mentioned the coat to him. “Yes, let’s walk out and get that. It is pretty cold today.”

So, that’s what we did. I led us, and we walked slowly down the path to the pond. Well, I would much rather have been on his back. That thought surfaced brightly, a number of times as we walked. But I really needed to wait… and… see… Then I thought of hugging his neck… But I shouldn’t… I almost started crying right then, and really wanted to run into my room and cry buckets again. This was just not getting any easier.

We made it to the pond, and he told me that he threw the coat off from where he stood the day I fell. It was easy to find, and I put it in my mouth and shook it to get the snow out of it. Well, I couldn’t put it on him now, the collar would get covered. I explained this to him and we turned around and headed back to the house. Once there, I undid the clip, and helped him inside, next to the fire. Then I closed the door. I undid the other end of the clip thing, then carefully worked my old coat down over his body, working hard to not look… The collar just barely came out through the hole for his neck on the coat. Well, he is just bigger than me. Still, I managed to get the clip thing back on the collar, and he had a coat on, anyway. I walked over, then laid down next to him, facing the fire.

My mind was right away… I was cold… It was so much warmer on his back, next to him… I was quickly a huge mess inside, but I tried to just sit there, and gaze at the fire. I… Nothing could be done. We just had to wait…

Well, he said what I had felt… “I liked you on my back better, in case it matters.” I managed to just cry quietly at this, and only after a while, calmed down. And even then, my mind, my heart, well I was just all over the place… Just so many things, piling up so quickly… And all I could say was that we had to just wait and see. I fought that for a while.

Out of desperation… “Stallion, can we go for a walk? I think that might really help my head.” Well, it would give me something else to look at, to think about, to distract me, I don’t know.

He smiled, and I could only hope he couldn’t read my thoughts. “That would be fine. I am all for helping your head.” Well, I knew he really meant that. We both needed that, my head, to be fine.

Reversing what we had done maybe an hour ago, we were back outside, rope clipped between our two collars. “Where do you want to go?” he asked quietly.

“Well, I’m not sure. Let’s try a different direction. I’ll take us on the path to town. We are not going all the way there, I am just interested in some new scenery.” I said this all slowly, thinking out loud, really.

He replied “Well, lead on.” I knew he almost added something else, but stopped himself.

We started walking. The spire on the castle was still easy to see. It was a dark, cloud covered day, and cold, but not windy or snowing like yesterday. There was a bunch of new snow on the ground, but the spire was still a good landmark. I directed us straight for it. The walk felt very nice. The exercise, maybe it really was helping me, my head, all of me, I don’t know. We walked for quite a while. Then I decided we should turn around and head back, since we were getting close to town. I could still see our hoofprints in the snow, so that, finding our way back would be easy.

“I am going to pick up the pace some, tell me if I go too fast.” I thought a minute, then added “We are going back the exact same way we came, so it should be level and flat.” I think he may have been just a little concerned about that. I started walking faster, then trotting. Well, I was trotting pretty fast, and he could still walk and keep up. His legs are longer than mine. I thought that he could use the exercise too, so I started galloping, and he had to trot pretty fast to keep up with me. But running like that felt… wonderful to me… I was quickly laughing. Maybe we had been cooped up in my house for too long…

Small horse, big horse… We were made to run… I tried to gallop as fast as I could, maybe forgetting the stallion I was tied to… Running fast felt amazing… I was maybe starting to forget…

…There was a small bush in the way, in his way, coming up fast. I saw it a little ahead, and managed to say “watch out” as I tried to slow down. Well, I was roped to a larger stallion, and there was no way I could slow him down. One of his front legs hit the bush, which spun his body slowly to the side, and he fell sideways, sliding back first, into and across the snow. Well, it sounded like he hit his head pretty hard on the ground when he fell, I don’t know. But when he finally slid to a stop, I ended up on my side, basically on top of him. The rope had just pulled me down right where he fell. His head was buried in the snow as he lay there on his side, with my head back on his neck. I was concerned that he had gotten hurt again.

He chuckled, then said “Ahh… You are back on my neck again…”

He was right, and I wanted to cry buckets… Something totally different happened… I wrapped my closest front leg around his neck, stretched out there, careful to lay along the full length of his side… He pulled his head up out of the snow and gasped. I know he was soon working at not crying… Then, it was like, my mind was thinking out loud, through my mouth, not even accounting for the fact that he was under me… Slowly, very slowly… almost dispassionately, I said this…

“Why… What am I doing here…

“I shouldn’t be doing this…

“Except that this stallion has brought me more peace than I have ever known… ever thought possible, even…

“He is such a comfort to me…

“And… I think I will kill myself if I try to live through the rest of the winter by myself…

“I think I really need him…

“Well, that’s the problem, I think I really want him too…

“But I don’t know if he will want me… after he can finally see me…

“And that is so important too… I don’t want him to stay just because I hurt, because I want…

“And we won’t know anything until…”

Something snapped inside me right then… It was like an avalanche of emotion just exploded down on my soul… I was quickly crying buckets… I think I was hysterical… I just kept screaming “I need to know… One way or another… I need to know…”

I was absolutely useless for anything… Somehow, he got up, took my old coat off his back, and got me up on his back… I felt his magic holding me there… I hugged his neck right away and couldn’t let go… Somehow, he got us back to the house and inside, and he laid back down in front of the fireplace… I sobbed uncontrollably for hours, saying the same thing, holding on to the only peace I knew… that I didn’t even know whether or not I would even get to keep… I thought he was crying too, but…

I hoped crying like that would help me feel better… Hours later when I calmed down, I just felt so drained, so completely emptied… Again talking quietly, dispassionately… “I’m sorry, none of this is your fault. I did the right thing helping you, am doing the right thing helping you, and I have no right…” I couldn’t finish. But, I couldn’t cry any more either. For a while, I just stared into the fire, head and heart absolutely emptied, drained…

“What do you really want?” the stallion asked quietly.

I didn’t even think about what to say. I guess I was just beyond thinking, beyond feeling, too. “I don’t want you to stay just because I am lonely. I want you to see me and deeply want me, and stay because you want to…” I didn’t even look away from the fire, as these words fell slowly out. These words were all I had inside, I guess. Then I had nothing more…

I was still on his back. I was still hugging my head to his neck. I fell asleep like that.

He woke me up the next morning. He didn’t use his nose because he couldn’t. My head was down next to his neck. He just said the word “Miss…” until I answered.

“Yes…” I said quietly.

“I need to go…” he said quietly.

I guess, after last night… My head was still empty, my heart was still empty. I said quietly “Well, I understand. I don’t for a minute regret helping you, but if it is time for you to move on I –”

He sighed. “Miss… I need to go to the bathroom…”

I felt absolutely so embarrassed right then… I started to cry softly, and hugged his neck tightly… I think, inside, I honestly expected this, that he would simply want to move on. But I couldn’t even talk any more; well I absolutely refused. I think he realized, and got up, and shoved his way out the front door with me still on his back, found his way around back and went to the bathroom. The Sun was shining, and it seemed like a decent day, for winter, but that didn’t matter… I felt last night’s avalanche preparing for another fall… I held on to this stallion’s neck, cried hard, and waited for it… I… he didn’t walk back into the house, but I felt so far gone… Eyes shut tight, I just cried as he walked… He could walk anywhere he wanted, I just didn’t want to let go, even though I knew that would probably need to happen, maybe soon…

He stopped walking… Well, he stopped, moved, then stopped again. He laid down on his belly, right there, again using his magic to hold me against his back as he laid down. I looked up long enough to realize we were down next to the pond. He just laid down in the snow facing the pond, looking down across the pond as I hugged his neck tightly and cried. I cried for a while. Just like last night, after an hour maybe, I ran out of tears, and just felt emptied again. The warmth of the sun felt amazing, but I just wanted to be done with this, to know… I needed him to say that he was moving on so I could hurry up and get over this, somehow, and get on with my life… I guess, once I ran out of tears, I was just waiting… Waiting for that exact thing… But… He needed to see… he needed to see me first…

“Miss…” he said quietly…

Pretty sure I knew what was coming, I just held on and waited…

“My hornfire vision was of you… laying on your side… right here… basking in the summer sun…” He started crying. “I don’t ever want to miss that again…”

I knew what he was saying. I heard his words, his crying… I screamed out… “We won’t know until you can finally see, so you can see me and know…” Then I cried some more.

He let me cry for a little while. I think he was crying too. “Miss…” he said quietly, so I tried to stop crying. Once I was quiet, he asked this. “Can I know that I want you without actually seeing you?”

I… What… This is… This never even crossed my mind… It didn’t make any sense to me, not that it really mattered. I couldn’t even think… After saying nothing for a few minutes, I said quietly, slowly “Why would you do that?”

He answered quickly, and slowly piled up reason after reason…

“Because you spent hours digging me out of the snow, wrestling my larger body slowly around, just to get me back into your house, so that maybe I could have another chance. By the next morning, I would have been dead…

“Because you shared every conceivable aspect of your life with me because I could see absolutely nothing on my own. I absolutely needed… you… And you welcomed such an extensive intrusion, and gave as much as you could…

“Because you went out of your way to take care of me, to feed me, to keep me warm. You shared your meagre resources with me not even thinking…

“Because you fought increasingly to hold back an emotional landslide, inside, because you absolutely refused to presume anything about me, how I felt, How I would feel about… you…”

And these were the few I could remember, there were more… His explanation took a while. After some time in thought, trying not to cry, he added this last. “I couldn’t see a thing, but I keenly felt your wild delight at our magic fun together… For as long as I can remember, I yearned for a mare… for this very thing… The way the Unicorns around me… I realized there was just no way…” He didn’t finish, and he didn’t need to. And that should have… I desperately wanted the same thing…

Well, he was right about all of that. I had done all that, for him… And I guess, if the inside counted for much… I don’t… But this didn’t seem to change much as far as I can tell… He needed to see… me…

It was quiet for a few minutes. My brain, my heart was just so numb, so empty… But I finally, slowly said this. “What if you finally see me and don’t like…” Well, I couldn’t finish, and started crying softly again.

I don’t know… He got up, then used his magic to gently pick me up from his back, and set me down, standing, in the snow, facing him. He unhooked the rope from his collar; I guess mine was already unhooked. The rope fell… I was bewildered, and sure my face reflected that…

“Do you think you can catch me?” he asked quietly.

I… This… made no sense… He couldn’t see… But he turned and ran quickly off, up towards the house. Of course, I ran after him, slowly… “Hey, wait…” I yelled. He stopped immediately, and fell to the ground. I couldn’t stop in time, and I fell on top of him. He was on his side, laying in the snow, and my two front legs were up on his shoulder. The rest of me was in the snow too. It was cold…

He curled his head around, and put his nose up against my head, and just held it there. “You smell nice” he said quietly.

But, he was… looking… into… my eyes…

“You can see now?” I asked quietly, although the answer was obvious to me after I asked that… I breathed haltingly, again on the verge of tears. Anything I could slowly think of saying, well it just made no sense to me… I didn’t say, couldn’t say anything… This was maybe the moment of truth. Failing to say anything, I just hoped for the worst, I guess… I closed my eyes, wrapped both front legs around his neck, hugged tightly (for the last time maybe), and just waited for it… “I would find out soon” I thought to myself…

“You are as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside… You are a caring, sensitive, beautiful… Unicorn mare who loves to do magic together… Why would I not want that? Why would I not want you? And I can’t wait until this summer…” He said this quietly, and I could only digest it slowly. I couldn’t answer… Maybe I couldn’t believe… I pulled away and looked at him.

“Why…” was all I could make come out. Then it was quiet for a minute. I was looking into his eyes. Well, we were looking into each other’s eyes…

Well, I understood this much… I slowly put my head back down on his neck, and hugged him lightly, closed my eyes. Sounding as vulnerable as I felt… “Can I hope now?” I asked quietly.

He sighed. “Only if I can cry now…” he replied quietly.

We both cried… immediately and hard… together… I would never have thought… But it was cold… Still crying, he got up and quickly put me up on his back. I was up against him again, my head was against his… I hugged his neck tightly with both front legs… Maybe I could now… Maybe it would be ok… And I cried buckets… He walked me back into the house, shut the door, put another log on the fire, then laid on his belly facing the fire with me on his back. I hugged his neck tightly, and we cried… We just cried… together…

Hours later, we both fell asleep… together…

————–

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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