Freedom’s Dream

Beauty came of age in the care of her aunt and uncle. She was dark of hair with the blackest eyes and fairest alabaster skin. As her name implies, her physical countenance was the embodiment of beauty, and the magnetism of her being was such that anyone in her presence was captivated, unable to draw their gaze away from the brilliance of perfection she embodied.

Her beauty was matched by a serenity and benevolence of character that enabled her to see everything and everyone with compassion, and to believe the best of them. She understood that there was something special about her that caused others to wish to be in her presence and meet her desires.

All but her Aunt.

Her Aunt was the ruler of the household. Beauty was never allowed in her presence. From time before this story begins, her Aunt placed Beauty in the stable to live. She was given a luxurious stall with golden bars and tapestries of silk, which she shared with her Steed, a black stallion who loved Beauty with all the devotion of a true companion. Unlike the humans who fawned over her, Beauty’s Steed saw through Beauty’s magnetism to the truth of her, to the strengths and weaknesses of her character which only he could see.

Despite living in the stable, Beauty believed that she was favored. Her Uncle adored her and gave her everything she asked for.

Each day Beauty’s steed, tickled by a flame inside, asked Beauty about being trapped in this place. Wouldn’t she rather be free? And each time her Steed asked this of her, Beauty had the same response. “My uncle adores me, and I will be able to win my freedom through my charm. He will let me go.”

And so it went, day after day, week after week, month after month, Beauty and her Steed remained confined to the luxurious stall, and each time her Steed asked her if she wouldn’t rather be free, she would say “I will win my Uncle with my charm. All I need to do is ask and we shall be free.” Sometimes adding “And it’s not so bad here…”

Months turned into years. The Steed was tormented by the routine of confinement. He loved his mistress, but inside of him was a restlessness that called him to the hills, to the wild wind and raging rivers, to the endless open fields of grasses and the quiet pine forests. He dreamed of this every night. It was these dreams that prompted him to ask his mistress each day if she wouldn’t rather be free.

And as for Beauty, she truly believed her freedom was guaranteed. She believed it was within her power to influence her uncle in her favor. He adored her, after all. But did she ever ask to be let go? Did she ever question her uncle? She did not. She preferred to live with the belief that freedom was just a question away, just a formality, then to test the boundaries and confirm what her Steed already knew.

And so Beauty lived in her delusion that she was free.

And her steed lived with a deep inner conflict. His body told him to flee, his heart kept him by his mistress’s side.

Until one day when someone new arrived in the barn. A new Hand had been hired to do the heavy work. He was big and strong with hands that looked as though they could bend metal. And in fact he did bend the metal needed for the horses shoes, forming each one into the right shape for each hoof. This newcomer had an air of independence. He was quiet, but he was free. He was there but he was not a prisoner.

The Hand and the Steed became friends.

It was not a bond of the heart, as the Steed felt for his mistress. This was a bond of brotherhood. What the Steed and the Hand recognized in one another was the spark of freedom. It was a fire in the eyes. The Steed’s flame was dim, but in the presence of the Hand, it rekindled and burned brighter than anytime since the Steed had been a young colt. It was intoxicating and irresistible.

So, they hatched a plan.

In two night’s time, the Hand would be leaving and never returning. The Steed was invited to join him. It was now or never.

That night he spoke to Beauty. He had a way out, would she join him?

I would like to tell you that Beauty said yes, that she left the stable and her uncle and her cruel aunt and fled to the hills, breathing fresh air, running through the tall grasses, and napping on a bed of needles below the towering pines.

But the truth is that the flame of freedom had gone out in Beauty. She had grown comfortable and complacent, and the idea of leaving for the unknown, where she would have to fend for herself, find her own food, sleep out of doors, and face who knows what dark threats in the wild, even with her Steed, was too uncomfortable.

And so, the time of escape had come.

In the dark of night, the Hand waved to the Steed, time to go!

The Steed looked at his mistress one last time, dreaming that she might wake up one day, done her battle gear, and claim her freedom.

The Steed followed the Hand out of the stable, never to return again.

By: Larissa Davis© 2021

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