The four children slid off the back of the White Horse. They looked around, noticing the trees, the tall grass, and then looked at each other. “Are we safe now?” Little One asked of Tessie, the one the White Horse protected. Tessie didn’t answer immediately, turning instead to look into the eyes of the White Horse. Returning her gaze, he nodded his large head.
“Yes, we are safe now,” Tessie said with confidence. Little One slumped down to sit in the grass, relieved, Tessie joining her. They leaned toward each other, bumping shoulders, smiling. The other two children, a boy named Nuff, and one called Jeffy, saw the two girls at ease and ran towards the trees. “Bet I can climb higher than you!” Nuff shouted, grabbing a lower limb and starting upward. “Oh no you can’t, you dweeb!” Jeffy yelled back, laughing as he climbed up higher in another tree. The girls, ages 6 and 7, laughed and teased the boys. Nuff, himself seven, scampered higher and higher up in the branches. Jeffy, being nine, had height on Nuff, as well as longer legs and laughed as he looked down at his younger counterpart, now below him. “Give it up,” Jeffy taunted the younger boy. Nuff responded by moving higher in his chosen tree. “Never!” he grunted as his foot slipped off a branch and he had to catch himself to keep from falling. Jeffy laughed again, Nuff got red-faced, and Tessie called out suddenly, “Guys! Something is coming! Come here! Hurry!”
Both boys dropped to the ground, hearing the urgency in Tessie’s voice and saw she and Little One standing by the White Horse, who was now facing the direction they had just come from. No one spoke, but the children moved closer to each other, presenting a unified front. Tessie reached up and placed her hand on the White Horse’s neck. “What is it?” she whispered to the White Horse. He stood still, staring, the muscles in his legs twitching at different times. No one spoke, but all looked where the White Horse looked, straining to see something, anything. Their ears were trying to discern some noise, some clue to what was coming. Then they heard a muffled, soft clip-clop, slowly getting louder and seemingly nearer. All their eyes could faintly see was a cloud of dust that seemed to grow in size. Nuff whispered to Jeffy, “Should we run, ya think?” Jeffy, who considered himself a protector since he was the oldest, shrugged and moved toward the horse’s head and Tessie. “Hey, Tess,” he whispered, “ask White Horse do we need to run, okay?” Tessie didn’t answer, but the horse turned his large head so he could look Jeffy in the eyes. Jeffy didn’t move, but the horse briefly tossed his head, which Tessie interpreted and said, “No. He doesn’t think so. He isn’t running so we shouldn’t either.” All eyes focused forward again.
Shapes began to form in the dust cloud that now covered everything. The White Horse did not move, nor did the children beside him. All stood quietly, ready for whatever. Slowly, the children’s eyes widened. The White Horse tossed his head. It was a massive herd of horses approaching them! Deer, moose, antelopes, wolves, bears, and other animals were mixed into the ever-growing cloud. Little One squealed in delight, pointing to the sky! Crows, falcons, eagles, hawks, so many birds seemed to fly over the herd of animals, escorting them! Nuff and Jeffy jumped up and down in wonder and excitement. Tessie leaned against the White Horse, tears flowing as she smiled and nuzzled her wet face into his shoulder.
“What does it mean?” Jeffy asked with wonder. No one answered him, but Tessie waved her arm over the scene and suddenly they understood. A black stallion pulled up short in front of the White Horse. Much neighing, pawing of hooves on the ground, head tossing was seen between the two. Then the White Horse lowered himself to the ground. Tessie spoke, “Come on. He wants us to get on. I’ll explain later, so hurry up. Get on!”
The children scampered up on the White Horse’s large back and he stood and they were flying towards the tops of the hills. All the animals followed, never wavering, pushing on behind the White Horse who now led them with the Black. They ran and ran, children amazingly not bounced off , but wisely hanging on to each other and the White Horse’s mane. It seemed they were running into the sunset. Then the animals, as well as their leaders, slowed as the dusky skies gathered about them. Just before the darkness settled in, they all slowed to a stop. Some started to graze, others bedded down. The White Horse lowered himself for the children to get off, still wondering, full of questions–full of awesome wonder at what had happened. Tessie and Jeffy started a fire as the night brought a chill. So amazing had their ride been that even Nuff didn’t ask for food or complain. Tessie moved to look into the White Horse’s eyes.
They stared intently at each other, with Tessie sometimes smiling, sometimes nodding. The other children knew she was communicating with the White Horse, finding out what had happened, and hopefully, what was to come. They waited, quietly, knowing soon they would know from her. Finally, Tessie went up to the White Horse’s broad forehead, kissed him, whispered words to him, and came to where the other children sat by the fire. “We are special,” she said softly. “Really special. We are allowed to stay with the animals, to be a part of them. Few humans are allowed–but we are,” and her love and happiness washed over all.
“What did he tell you?” Jeffy asked quietly. Tessie took Little One’s hand as she sat beside her and suddenly, Little One had that same look of love and happiness. “We are good and accepted,” Little One said, almost in a whisper. The two boys sat watching and waiting, not moving at all. “He told me that now that the sickness has come to the people, the animals can thrive once more, mother earth and her oceans can breathe once more. He told me that here, where we are now, this place, is SAFE and we are all safe. But want to know what is most beautiful? He said us and few like us are now kindred spirits!” Nuff let out a muffled, “WOW! ” then, “Like we are one of them and they are one of us?” Tessie nodded, Little One looked like she was in heaven and Jeffy just grinned and grinned, silent for once in his overwhelming joy.
Tessie went on, “They will care for us and we will care for them. The White Horse said this is how it was meant to be in the beginning, but people were killing them off, hurting the land, and…well, now, it is back to how it should be!” The children grinned, smiled, tears of joy ran down their faces. Then Jeffy seemed worried. “What if they come with their guns? Do it again like they have before? How can we stop them? How!” Little One smiled a knowing smile. “They can’t. Not now. Not yet. And by the time the sickness leaves, the earth, the waters, the kindred spirits of the animals and the birds will have grown stronger, braver, and loads smarter. And he said there are others, like us, kindred spirits. So we will be with them and all of us together will make it right! Peace for everyone! Love for all the kindred spirits!”
Nuff ran up to Little One, hugged her. Tessie hugged Nuff and Little One. Jeffy hugged everyone as he kept saying, “Cool! Oh, cool! This is soooo cool!” The White Horse watched them, neighed softly and nuzzled them each , pushing them down gently to rest. One would have thought they were in a fairy-tale, gazing at four children, holding hands as they slept with a white horse and a black horse watching over them, crows and hawks and other birds in the branches above them, watching also. A wolf thanked the heavens for all as he bayed. Dreams of kindred spirits filled the little heads.
The universe replied with stars to light the sky and whispered, “Kindred spirits all.” And the world slept in peace.