The pullover was where I remembered. The fields had grown up; no one farmed them anymore. We passed the skeletons of a 55+ development. Eventually the dirt road wound down into a gated community. Farm land here sold cheap.
When she asked where we were going that afternoon with the clouds touching high ground, and the creeks running fast. I had said into great-uncle’s past.
She never met him, but she was full of all his stories and adventures. She’d asked if she could have a photograph. She chose the picture of him as a young man, heading off to World War I, standing so proud in his uniform.
The war always haunted him. WW 1 shell shock; today’s PTSD. As an adult, I realized he was hollow, as if a bullet had torn out his soul. He had this far away stare, oblivious to the present, locked in the past.
He loved to tell stories to children. To see their wide-eyed smiles. To hear their giggles. To watch them fall under the spell of his tales. Then the war was a million years and miles away.
Great-uncle and I shared a love of good luck charms. My favourite was part of any ride to town I took with him. He would pull the car over, turn off the engine. We’d scan the horizon for them. Waiting, watching. As a little girl, the anticipation and excitement was almost too much.
Then they would come over the ridge of the hill. Horses. But, we were looking for a very special one, racing each other to catch the first glimpse. I suspect great-uncle let me win most times.
It was a white horse we needed for our charm, our chant, our spell. I doubted horses of any colour still grazed here. When I was a child, they were hold-overs from another world, another way of life.
She knew the white horse story, but not our spell. So, I showed her the hand movements and taught her the rhyme.
lucky lucky white horse, lucky lucky lea, lucky lucky white horse, bring good luck to me.
Thank you great-uncle. My childhood was special because of you. I’ll make sure her childhood is too.