By Christina Tang-Bernas
The gray clouds pressed down in the steely sky above the Welsh coastline, damp winds wrapping around our throats and threatening imminent rain. Arthur’s Stone balanced before me, complete with a deep slit sliced into it. Per our guide’s instructions, I rubbed my hands together and pressed them to the hard surface. The logical side of my mind scoffed at the cheesiness of the situation. I pushed it aside and closed my eyes, imagining the latent energy coiled within this massive ancient stone. Whether or not King Arthur had pulled his sword from its depths, or even if King Arthur ever existed, didn’t detract from the sheer number of years this rock had weathered. After five slow breaths, I pulled away to let another have their turn.
As we tromped back to our tour bus through the tall grass, a herd of wild horses wandered along. Only ten or so, a few babies wobble-kneed beside their mothers. They paid little attention to our small group clicking away, cameras pressed to our eyes or held out in front of our faces. Only one stopped, a bit separate from the rest. His dark ragged mane draped over his neck and onto his shoulders, thick winter coat patchy with the oncoming spring. Most striking, however, were his piercing blue eyes, the pristine blue found in the shallow water-pools we’d waded through half a year ago in Pamukkale, Turkey.
We’d stepped onto an airplane bound for Bangkok nine months before, unsure of whether we were doing the right thing. We’d given up our apartment and two steady decent-paying jobs, put everything we owned into storage except what could fit into two carry-on suitcases and backpacks, and taken off with our hearts in our throats. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for on this trip. Myself? My future? My faith? All or none of the above? All I knew as the plane rumbled down the runway was that I didn’t want to live with any regrets, and that my husband agreed.
We wandered through country after country, their cultures and histories and presence clinging to us as we passed, and now we were in Wales. I’d longed to return since our honeymoon four years previous, remembering the crumbled grandeur of Tintern Abbey and the bare bones of a long-ago Roman amphitheater pressed into the ground. This time we’d wanted to explore the rocky coast, cliffs of bare stone topped with unruly grasses.
Which led to me, standing here, my hands still tingling from pressing them against Arthur’s Stone. Wild magic rose up, enclosing me and the shaggy chestnut blue-eyed horse in its embrace. I couldn’t see any fear in those striking eyes, only a calm peace that comes from being fully in its element.
Yes, I thought. Yes. Any doubts that still sought sanctuary in the chambers of my heart melted under the onslaught. We’d made it through three-quarters of a year on our own, in parts of the world I’d only dreamed of before under the cover of night. And not only had we survived, we’d transformed. This was a magic all on its own, contained within the confines of my skin. Whether or not I’d been looking for it.
The horse tossed its head, snorted, and moved away to catch up with the rest of its brethren. My husband laced his fingers through mine, and together we headed towards our waiting bus.
About the Author:
Christina Tang-Bernas recently spent ten months absorbing all sorts of intriguing ideas in her travels around the world. Her work has appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Still Points Arts Quarterly, 3Elements Review, and Women Arts Quarterly Journal.
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