Once upon a time, Eli the stallion stares at the starry sky––noticing the blank, almost empty gaps where no glow is visible. He tries to clear his mind, letting the stars paint pictures for him, maybe a map––a way out of the stable. It had been yet another day with two late feedings and no exercise, so Eli’s long legs and eager heart throbs for the mere thought of adventure––something he could only dream of.
He hears something in the distance, laughing.
He thinks to himself.
“Awww, did your human tuck you in real tight?”
A muscular stallion gallops in the distance, the light playfully bouncing off of his vibrant coat. His faint shadow begins to appear more clearly...
“Please help me sir. My legs, they ache from numbness and...and my eyes are strained from looking at the same overgrown greenery for the past six months,” Eli whimpers.
“What happened to your pet human? They don’t love you any more?” The cocky stallion remarks.
“No, I've felt like I've never left the confines of this prison-like stable,” Eli mutters.
“So you’ve never run through the bluffs by the sea?” Eric asks.
“No...never,” Eli replies.
“Let me take you there. By the way, my name is Eric,” The muscular stallion says.
“Mine is Eli,” Eli states.
“Well it’s nice to meet ya, Eli,” Eric declares.
Eric kneels down onto the hard gravel that surrounds the stable, and as he begins to speak, the world around Eli starts to melt and disappear. Eric describes the freshness of the salty air, how its scent seemed to cling to his coat for days. He delineates the view from the bluffs, how the navy blue waves moved like tall forest green grass.
Suddenly, Eric’s song tears down the walls of the prison, but three seconds later, the prison’s venerable wood magically reassembles itself around Eli’s body.
“Where are you going?” Eli asks.
“I'm going to find a way to take you to the beach,” Eric replies, destined to find Eli a way to experience the feeling of the warm sand slithering beneath his hooves.
Eric disappears. In his absence, Eli’s world now feels empty.
Days pass and nothing changes. Seasons change and the sparse greenery around the stable starts to wither and crumble as winter rapidly approaches, and with it, Eli’s hope––Eli’s hope to taste the beach’s salty air and dance with the ocean waves.
As the light dusting of snow begins to cover the moldy wood Eli is encaged in, Eli could hear another horse’s trot. He quickly takes a peek out of the miniscule opening in the corner of his stall, and sees Eric’s sinewy shadow. Eric approaches and Eli couldn’t help but notice the rope tied around his neck.
“I thought you wouldn’t come,” Eli states, surprised.
“It took me longer than expected to figure out how to get the stable open, but I made a promise that I intended to keep,” Eli replies with pride.
Eric, using his mouth, swings the hook around the bars of the door to Eli’s stables, and starts to run in the opposite direction––until the rope is taught. Eric pulls and pulls, and after what seemed like forever the door begins to bend, and finally, it shatters...like glass.
Awestruck, Eli rushes out of the stable and into Eric's warm chest.
“Where do we go now?” Eli asks.
“Wherever our hearts take us,” Eric announces.
As the beachy breeze builds just as rapidly as Eli’s taste for the real world, Eli and Eric hear soft festive music playing about a town away on their way to the beach.
“Hey what’s that? Is it going to eat us?!” Eli exclaims.
“Hold your horses… it’s just music,” Eric replies.
“Music?” Eli questions.
“Yes, music. Sound waves wiggling through your body––making your ears stand up and dance. Why don’t we gallop down there? It is only a few miles away...we could stick together, I promise I will protect you from danger,” Eric emphasizes.
“Okay, I trust you, Eric,” Eli responds.
The two enamored stallions canter into the sunset, together––until they run into a couple of mares.
“Hey boys, wanna accompany us to the music festival?” The two mares ask.
“Uh actually, we were going to go together,” Eric mutters
“Fantabulosa!” Eli chants
“You two are weird. We are gonna go find some real stallions. Let's go, Cherry…,” one of the mares utters.
Eric and Eli prance into the lights, striving to laugh off the oppressive comments from the mares.
“Mares? More like who cares?!” Eli says, trying to brighten up the mood.
“Stop that Eli, we are too good for them...and by the way, what I said back there––I do really want to go see the lights, hear the music, and be with you” Eric replies.
“You’re right. I want to be with you too––and get lost in your glistening eyes, where the light doesn’t even know where to bounce,” Eli whispers.
The stallions look at each other for a while. There is a soft tension, it is comforting. It is almost as if in that moment, their souls intertwined. From then on, they did not know what path the arc of their lives would take, but they were certain of one thing: that it would be together.
One month later
Eli notices Eric’s breath synchronizing with the chilly ocean breeze. He settles down on his makeshift sand bed, turns to face Eric, and thinks to himself––before he lets his dreams carry him away.
Yes, we had gone to the sea together.
Yes, we had heard music together.
Yes, we saw the sunlight pouring down.
Yes, we hated the inner and outer oppression.
Yes, we had laughed often day and night.
Yes, we were looking at each other.
Yes, I am free now.
Yes, I trace his constellations.