After a long and tedious day indoors, Quelina was exhausted, exhausted of not doing anything. Everything was drab, dismal and depressing. She liked to think of it as the initial sad phase of her life and felt that the grand adventure was just around the corner.
However, that was nothing but her wishful thinking. She was out on the balcony in the middle of the night. Her eyes were straining to see some stars out above. She always liked discerning the Orion from the rest. But, that day, even the stars were all cushioned deep in the darkness with not even a twinkle to spare. The lights below were smothering the lights above. The clouds were there, though. It was a windy night and the grey silhouettes were moving fast in the pitch black sky.
Something blinked at her from those fumy folds. Or, had something flown into her eyes? Something was looking at her. Were those eyes or the stars that she’d been looking for? Quelina was convinced now that she was losing it. She was just turning back into her room when she heard the soft whinny of a horse. She looked back up. Those clouds… the vapors were turning into many spirals. All those spirals were amalgamating into one big tornado. The air was cold on her face now; the twisting vapors were descending toward her. And just as the tip of the twister reached the air near her feet, the vapors turned into a magnificent horse.
Now, Quelina was not much of an expert when it came to horses. In fact, she hadn’t even seen one up close. But she could tell that this one was the finest kind, aside from the fact that it was made out of freaking clouds! The vapors had solidified into smooth, strong muscles. The sinews were pulsing as if with blood. The hair on its body was pure mist. She touched them and felt a very odd and curious sensation of touching wind. The regal creature was looking at her with eyes made of frost with swirling flakes of snow inside them. The hooves were made of ice too, she realized. The face looked feminine. Her snout was long and slender with whiffs of smoke twirling out of her nostrils. She held herself with such elegance that Quelina felt even more of a clumsy klutz than usual.
This horse; this, whatever she was, seemed to be something more than a person, let alone an animal. Throughout her enthralled observation, the vaporous equine creature was looking at her as if she were evaluating a potential candidate. Quelina started feeling apprehensive when she realized the same. She wasn’t good with surprise tests. Eager to prove herself (as always), she pushed forward her trembling hand and touched the horse’s face. Sharp icy tendrils rushed through her arm, filling her every pore with a cleansing coolness. She felt clearer, more herself. It was kind of like caffeine. She felt braver. A smile tugged at her chapped lips. And it seemed to her the horse approved.
Without a second thought, she jumped onto her back forgetting that she was forty feet above ground. But the horse was solid. She might be made out of smoke, but it seemed like sturdy smoke. Go figure! Before Quelina could even blink, the smoke steed neighed loudly and stormed across the night sky. Now, Quelina was not very good with speed. Speed was okay when she was driving the thing herself, but she had a hard time trusting when somebody else was in control. It was no different here. She screamed with all the decibels she was capable of with her eyes shut tight. But, after a few seconds, she opened them and her scream turned into shrieks of delight. Her eyes were full of tears. But those were tears of exhilaration and joy.
The steed was graceful in her movement and the vapors seemed to buckle her in. Quelina spread her arms wide and tasted the chilly air of the night. She could see the stars now. They were still high in the heavens but they were numerous. The moon was gigantic and all of them seemed to be watching the show. She laughed a mad, raw laughter of pure delight that she never could’ve known would ever come out of her mouth.
The steed snorted, which sounded suspiciously like a loud smirk. A flare of determination flashed in Quelina’s caramel eyes. She grabbed at the vapors of the horse’s neck like reigns and pulled. The horse rose high with her forelimbs in the air. With a triumphant whoop from Quelina and an equally excited whinny from the steed, both of them burst across the night sky with renewed vigor and velocity, leaving a trail of smoke upon their wake. They were moving as one now, girl and horse, soul and spirit. Quelina felt like she was born for this. It felt like magic, magic that she’d been waiting for since she first became aware of its meaning. There were buildings all around her, her reflection blasting across their empty windows. She climbed higher. Away from the concrete, till she reached the realm above the clouds. The stars seemed to shine brighter; the moon seemed to emanate silvery winds from her core. Quelina gaped with wonder at the majesty of it all.
The steed ran the length of the misty clouds; the smoke seemed to cling to her hooves. They came to a galloping halt at the edge and gazed at the earth below. The view was breathtaking. The stars reflected in the vast ocean and the interspersed lights of humanity twinkled in harmony. The whole view was pulsing with life. She looked at the steed then and wondered where she came from and what took her so long. The steed looked back as if reading her mind. Her blue hypnotizing eyes seemed to say, “I’m here now, aren’t I?”
But, the very next moment, Quelina was falling… with no balance and no steed. It was terrible. She never thought she would feel such fear. It was not the fear of dying, but that of losing her, of losing that magic. But the steed just kept staring down at her falling silhouette with those purposeful icy eyes. They seemed to assure her that this was not the end. Or maybe it was just her imagination. She fervently hoped it wasn’t. The ground was becoming clearer. With one last glance behind, she closed her eyes and embraced the inevitable…
She woke up covered in sweat and her mind meandering through anxiety. “No, no, no… It can’t be just a dream! I was there, I touched her. I was flying!”, she exclaimed with frustration. She looked out of her window. The sky was on the verge of dawn, streaked with red. The mist still hung about here and there. She tentatively stuck her hand out through the window, her fingers trying to touch the vapors. To her immense relief and joy, she could! The mist solidified in her hand and turned into a tiny silver steed, tickling her palm with icy hooves as she galloped around. The smoky steed winked, turned and dissolved into a tiny twirl of fog. A smile of pure joy spread across Quelina’s lips. Her caramel eyes gazed at the clouds and her heart was full of hope for another night and another flight.
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