A story in a single image

Hey, hey you. I’m your companion. Remember me? My name is Freedom.

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Photograph by Annie Spratt @ Unsplash

I remember the day we met. You were a baby. You reached for me in worlds unseen, meeting my gaze. I was near to you, and the day you could grasp my mane was my sheer delight. I refused to imagine that you might let me go.

I was your unseen companion. In the whispers of your little room, you talked with me. You brushed me down everyday, gave me massages, gave me what choicest foods you could scavenge. I thought you should be eating those foods. I wished you shared them with me, but it was your desire that I eat them myself. So I did, all while watching you with wistful neighs, whinnies, and sighs.

Ponies weren’t what you wanted. You didn’t want unicorns. You wanted horses.

You played with me in the meadows, walked beside me in forests, admired the scenic vistas on cliff tops as you stood by my side.

I didn’t understand. Why didn’t you ride me? I was willing to kneel so you could clamour on to me. I nudged you, urged you, my eyes radiating love and asking you to accept me. But you insisted on nurturing me, taking care of me.

I was there as early childhood passed you by, despair demanding your spirit with every night you spent awake to read yet another book, pen yet another piece. I was your comrade in the Dream.

I was miffed that you’d ride the Timekeeper when he became his tiger. I remembered when you brought him to Dre’mael. A kitten, silent in your arms, when you returned to the world from your horrific experience.

You not once wrote of me.

You stopped going to parks, stopped looking for fey in the wilds. You neglected me. You didn’t notice me when I fled for the forestry. I heeded Godspeed’s summons. He lost his companion too. I turned my face to look at you, absorbed in your books, doing anything you could for affection most genuine.

You had these. You had me. I was with you always, waiting, living, breathing. I submitted to you, and you rejected me. You had forgotten me.

“When I’m grown up, I’ll have freedom.”

No, my lady. You already had me. You held yourself back from me. I loved you. Did you not love me in return?

You found unicorns. Here you sought a reason to inspire hope in sufferers you touched. Godspeed nuzzled my neck as I watched you continue on without me. Unicorns didn’t give the ones in pain the hope you chose to impart. Unicorns weren’t what they wanted.

One of these victims of hatred and tragedy went to her death. Your world changed yet again. I stepped near to you, softly giving you my whinny as not to frighten you. You paused for a heartbeat in your tears.

Look at me, I begged silently. My lady, I’m here. I’ve always been here. Look at me. Please, look at me.

You rose to your feet and pressed onward a road fraught with perils. I saw you clutch your chest every so often. The pain of watching you, helpless to be at your side as we were, was great.

Godspeed heard his lord’s calls. I am remembered!

Will you be all right?

Yes. What of you?

I won’t leave her.

I understand … live thee well, Freedom.

Fortune pursue thy wake, Godspeed.

I listened as he sped away, his hoofbeats as the lunar wind. My eyes remained upon you. I see you, my lady. I love you. Please call for me too. I miss you. I long for your smiles and lightness of heart.

You saw horses again, judged yourself unworthy. You observed and cheered for the ones who partnered as horse and human. You said to anyone who offered you a chance to seek me, “I’m okay. I’d rather watch you ride. Can I just do that?”

I was broken in heart by your words. Never would you ride me, my lady? Never would you say I was yours?

You settled for ponies, yet ponies couldn’t lift your heavy heart and take you far from there. You tried to garner the attention of pegasi, they were beyond your immediate reach. When your world failed again, the richness of colours, the shades and hues brimming with depth and luminosities, turned monochromatic. The world became a single colour – crimson.

I was the one who stood there before you in stark contrast to the bloodstain of your dawns. You saw me as a spectre. You let loose a shrill outcry for terror, turned your back to me and fled to the sea. I pursued you, you ran faster. Faster and faster you fled from me. Clutching your chest, I saw tears shed only by your left eye as you faced me. Your throat clenched, your voice went quiet. You dove into the sea without your word.

Your tears were as falling stars to me. Each one shed glistened and glimmered in the red lights, sparkled with a burst of brilliance as they descended. One by one, they left their mark upon a heart. You wouldn’t keep any for yourself. You only clutched your chest.

I was alone now, not just lonely.

I watched those waters, calm above and turbulent below. I remained on the beach, the transition between land and sea. I waited, and waited, waited and waited.

Please, my lady. Remember me.

The wind, laced with the promises of salt and ash, danced as I lay upon the sand. The sunset was a lovely event horizon, dipping into the expanses of space and time. My life pulsated continuously, waiting, ever waiting. My coat faded from earthy to a creamy white, my mane and tail remained of darkest browns. I closed my eyes at last, letting the dreams come.

I dreamed of you, my dearest. Even in gilded sleep, I longed for your touch, your warmth, your embrace. Your hands to feed me, to hold to me, to grip me as you confidently mounted me. We’d canter into distances unexplored. No need to gallop, and I didn’t like to trot. Cantering. You on me, bareback, trusting in our bond as I took you anywhere, everywhere, nowhere. Cantering. Through all knowns and unknowns, betwixt and between the liminality, no destination in immediate sight. And that would be all right, because we’d trust in each other. You, my queen, and me, your companion, cantering and charting as you chose. We’d cross paths with other pairs, but we know our road. We knew our journey, our Dream, our home – Home!

Doesn’t “home” sound wonderful, my lady? Or did you drown yourself in the sea? Will you emerge? Would you come with me?

I felt warmth one night. Opening my eyes, there you were. How silent you sprung from the sea! When did you leave?

You threw your arms around my neck and sobbed, laughing and crying. You brought a garland of tulips – when did you find those – and crowned me. Your skin wet from the seawater, your hair heavy with salt and sand. The wind picked up, and you sang as you combed my mane with your fingers.

I tossed my head and pushed my face into yours. How? I demanded. I had to know. What brought you from those depths? Why did you remember me now? When did you recognize the queen inside a princess?

You kissed my nose, I could see stars in your eyes. You smiled and reached for your chest. I looked at what you were clutching. You opened the heart-shaped locket and revealed the photograph inside.

Me.


REFERENCES

  • Annie Spratt :: photography
  • Listening to “Photograph” :: Ed Sheeran

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