Just a bit late today. Been one of those weeks. This was written in 2012 for A Tale From Behind The Curtains blog hop. Enjoy!
“Gypsy gold does not clink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark.”
The ceremony was bohemian and exotic and a far different future than I’d pictured for myself before Madame Romani and Midnight’s performance under the big top. The whole troupe gathered around the bonfire and Jafri and I exchanged vows. Under the furtive scrutiny of clowns, we sipped bittersweet wine and danced.
I had been enthralled by Madame’s sequined costume and magnificent Friesian, all black-feathered hooves and solid flanks, and I told her I’d give anything to be her.
“Said the same thing myself once,” she reminisced, older under the greasepaint than I’d have guessed. “But what of your swarthy young man?” She nodded to where Jafri waited for me.
“I love him, but my family doesn’t. They left New York after 911 to get away from ….”
“…Arabs.” Her gypsy eyes took Jafri’s measure. “My father did not approve my choice either.”
Mischievous, she’d whispered. “We eloped.”
Eloped. Already drunk with dancing, my laughter bubbled over like champagne. I lost myself in Jafri’s kisses and the pleasures of our first night.
I awoke at dawn to terrified neighs, banging metal, and Jafri gone. Shoving legs into jeans, I found Madame standing in the yard by an old horse trailer, a new halter in her hand.
“Quickly Jess, you must calm him before he’s injured.” Frantic whinnies accompanied the scuffle of panicked hooves. She pushed the halter into my hands.
“A wedding gift.”
I hesitated. “He’ll kill me.”
A middle-aged black man I had never seen before came up behind Madame, slipping an arm around her waist. “No. You are the only thing he remembers.”
“Who remembers?” Suspicious, I looked down at the halter. ‘Jafri’ was embroidered across the brow band.
“Jafri?” At my quavering voice, the horse quieted and whickered. A shuddering cold gripped me as I opened the tailgate. A beautiful lathered Arab waited within, his coat gleaming red beneath a thick mane of deepest black and Jafri’s eyes watching me.
“What have you done?” I whispered horrified.
“You wanted to be me.” Madame kissed the older man’s cheek, leaning her forehead to his.
“Turn him back! Please,” I begged as the stallion snuffled a contented sigh onto my cheek.
“He will become a man each anniversary, and you find a couple to take your place.” Madame put her hand to Midnight’s now-human cheek. “Until then, the Show must go on.”
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