It sinks, the ship. Engines failed. First, the ominous thudding. Casual concern. Benign stories shared. Oh, it’s just this. It’s probably that.
But then the cataclysmic cracking tore through the boiler room. Panic. Fire. The Arabian stallion breaks loose. The father loses sight of the son. He, the son, has gone overboard. He paddles on, the boy, in darkness and fear, eventually washes ashore in a fugue and near death. Asleep in the foam.
Stallion keeps head above water, too, emerges onto the same beach, regal but weary and spooked. He is tangled in ropes.
A new day. Shock filled with sun and water. A briny renewal. Boy releases horse from the tangle. It is the first of many salvations.
They play tag, the horse and the boy. Hide n’ seek. But two lone souls marooned together eventually find each other. Need each other. Or at least, they did. Found and needed each other.
They don’t know where they are, but then do any of us, really? In fact, they are blessed. For without society’s distractions, empty duties, hollow misses of relationships and the debris they leave behind, these two can dwell in essence. It is a boy and a stallion on a beach. The boy knows his father is gone. The stallion knows he is, for a time, free. After one sideways approach after another, sniffing and stalling, and with strategic use of the sea itself, for no way the boy stands tall enough to mount the horse otherwise — the boy finally finds horse’s back. The stallion allows.
It is a paradise of sorts. Sunshine raining down on hungry freedom. Shushurring ocean lullaby. A spangle of stars in lieu of thought. Curling, approaching, retreating foam takes the place of memory. What life? What family?
What else does a boy or a horse need?
But they are found and being found, forced into vests and pants with zippers or into gated stalls and bridles. Value recognized instantly when it came to the four legged – there is no hiding his majesty, a form bred for speed, manifest in beauty – but the brilliance now residing in the boy goes at first unnoticed.
He, the boy, sleeps in the backyard. The walls and ceiling are too close. His mother worries and tries not to take it personally, and fails. She sniffs his sheets — is it something she’s done? Omitted? She makes macaroni and cheese more often.
Fortunately for horse and boy, and mother, too, a mensch at the stables puts two and two together. Putting two and two together in this instance means putting horse and boy together. Together, again. He, the trainer, knows horses and in knowing horses, has insight into people as well – especially people who bond with horses (or is people with whom horses bond?) Never mind, he sees the boy’s brilliance immediately and knows the boy needs the horse. Shows him the mechanics of saddle and reins. The uses of speed.
The story unfolds in neighborhoods where houses with sweet porches line the street and on the race track. A rowdy, dusty, clamor of speed and anticipation. Triumph but also accommodation. Races are won, relationships built to last.
A disaster. A companion. A mensch. What looked horrible turned inside out by providence or destiny or something unnameable but big. Maybe it was just the taste of elemental freedom that changed the course of a life. After all, how many of us experience liquid grace and cross-species communion as salvation? And how many of us will be saved a second time by someone who sees us for who we’ve become?
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If you google The Black Stallion, you’ll find any number of trailers.