The Golden Key
The water rushed over the pebbles, carrying small branches and bark with it, as it surged towards the sea. Little rapids created mini waves as they hit rocks in their path. The sun began to move westwards and a chill crept into the air. Soft white clouds drifted across the darkening sky and Em pulled the shawl over her shoulders. A stray seagull shrieked at her, accusingly, as he flew past towards the sea. She slid her feet into the moss climbing up the bank. Funny how a river held such life around it. Creatures came to be near the water, build their homes there, find twigs and bits of grass for their nests. The river itself had its own life. Her eyes moved across the water and settled on the waterfall downstream. The thunder hypnotized her and all the day’s worries and cares were caught up and tumbled in this roaring, powerful rush of water.
A misty curtain formed between her eyes and the waterfall. As she focused, a form materialized slowly. Em gasped. She rubbed her eyes and checked again. Slowly the shape formed and a beautiful dark horse tossed his mane and flared his nostrils at her. She stepped back slightly, but met his gaze. The horse reared and let out a powerful whinny. A soft white hand smoothed his mane and golden locks brushed his mane as a woman leant forward to quiet him Em saw the fall of the shell-pink sleeve, the silky skirt, trimmed with tiny pearls. Bare toes peeped out from under the garment and a tiny ankle tinkled as the bells around it moved.
Em moved towards the vision. She wanted to touch the horse, let her fingers slide across the silky skirt. She hesitated and then smiled tentatively at the golden-haired woman. As she took another step forward, the woman put up her hand and turned her face away. The horse pawed at the mossy floor. Em stepped back. She felt hurt and unworthy. Her head bowed and her shoulders dropped. When she looked up again the woman spoke to her. “You must prove that you have enough self- love to approach us.”
Em was dumb-founded. “How do I do that?” she whispered. The answer came.
“Go back home now and climb into bed. Put a piece of lavender under your pillow and ask the gods to grant you vivid dreams tonight. Come back here tomorrow evening and you’ll see us again.”
Em did all this and in the morning she woke up startled. Her dreams had been vivid and in them she had had to overcome many hurdles. She had stood up to her bullying sister and answered her scary ballet teacher even though her knees were wobbly. Her bossy classmate had not managed to take her favourite sandwiches and swop them for bread and butter. She was exhausted but pleased with her night’s work. She dressed quickly and made her way down to the river. As she sat on her rock, she prayed that the vision would appear once more. Hours went by and no one appeared. Em closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around her knees. “I do love myself. I am good and kind and helpful to everyone I meet. I try never to hurt anyone and I always take an interest in other peoples’ lives. I am good at many things. I can sing and dance. I play the piano. I try not to give up at school, when things get too hard …” A soft puff of air against her cheek made her look up – into the deep brown eyes of the stallion. His gentle breath tickled her neck and she reached up to put her arms around him. His rider bent down and lifted Em onto the stallion’s back. Em squealed with delight as she felt soft arms encircle her. Golden locks caressed her face. She leant forward and put her cheek against the stallion’s soft mane. Gentle words found their way to her ears.
“You are worthy now. You have shown us that you can love yourself. That is the golden key to all our joy. As long as you keep that love in your heart, you are always welcome to visit us.”