Thursday, 20 March 2014
Yesterday Cyndi posted this teaser on her FB page. Enjoy!
A swift ride through the countryside is what I need, I thought.
Frustration sprang up like a geyser in my chest as the buckle on ...the saddle resisted my manipulations. A vicious Gaelic curse shot from my lips, and though I knew no one was around to hear, and even if they had been, no one in our group understood the language. My language, my native tongue. The thought made me pause, breathing hard, my hand coming to rest on the underbelly of the horse.
Three hundred years. So much had changed from those days on the misty moor of the loch surrounding Eilean Donan Castle. Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply and let myself pretend I was back in the stables at home, that the sharp tang of the horseflesh in front of me belonged to Eachann, the brown stallion I’d grown up with. He’d been a spitfire and no doubt. I’d loved him fiercely from the time I was no taller than his breast, barely more than a bairn myself. The summer before Da fell ill, he’d placed me atop the stallion.
"Steady, lad," he’d said firmly as I’d wiggled into place. With one hand on my knee to keep me still and another wound loosely in the reins, he’d made clicking sounds to the horse, who began a slow walk out toward the road. The warm summer breeze seemed fresher atop the great beast and I sucked in great lungfuls of it, pride at my new station streaming within me like a sunbeam through the forest.
"Can we go faster, Da?" I’d pleaded, ready to push the boundaries and feel the earth pass swiftly beneath me. My father had taken me on rides before, tucked up tight against the wall of his chest, but this was the first time I’d been atop Eachann myself.
To my disappointment, my father chuckled. "Nae, Aiden. Not today."
"But—" I started to protest, but he cut me a sharp glance that stilled my tongue.
"Nae," he said again, with a decisive shake of his head. "I’ve answered ye and should box your ears for asking again, but I won’t this time. Still, ye need to learn that nae means nae, and good reason for it, too."
"Sorry, Da," I said, dropping my eyes to the soft brown fur underneath my hands.
"There is a time and place for everything, my son. Someday, ye’ll be a grown man and riding Eachann will be tame compared to the other delights—and challenges—that lie before you. But there’s plenty of time for that, so take this day for what it is, and enjoy what the good Lord’s given ye, aye?" His smile shone through a thick, red beard, causing my heart to leap in my chest.
"Aye, Da," I’d replied, my cheeks stretched to their limits from the sheer joy of being with him.
Longing for what I’d lost surged within me—my father and his larger-than-life persona, my mother and her tender touch, my brother Duncan whose fists were always at the ready, and wee Willie who worried over his elder brothers’ brawling. Thinking of my family back then brought to mind the family I had now.