I walk there twice a day, knowing, as always, that the result will be the same. These creatures have too little time for adventurers such as I.
And yet I persist.
My doctors tell me not to think about it; to broaden my horizons and give the real world more time. Their reality is not mine, for I know what I saw, and I cannot, and will not, forget. For who could forget, if they had been there, with me? The rustle of the leaves, as if a respectfully muted wave of applause had accompanied the breeze that had softly risen and brought with it the clarity, the spiciness, the electric certainty and realization that a moment unlike all others was about to unfold.
I had experienced something like that once before, in a clock store a world away, where the small bell that hung over the front door announced my arrival into a softly ticking room of scent and sound, where the smell of seasoned wood a thousand years old combined with the slightest hint of machine oil to cause me to suddenly stop and stand in anticipation and readiness for a singularly rare event. The door closed silently behind me as my numb hand let slip the handle, and as the street noise faded the experience intensified to become a world where nothing else existed; there was only I at the center of a universe where that scent and sound emanated like twinkling starlight from each golden messenger who now stood, immobile and facing me, to present a single truth in unison. Improbably, all said exactly the same thing: it was two seconds before five, the moon was full, and it was time for them to sound.
And sound they did, until I stood among a choir of cathedral bells proclaiming that yes, this was the time, the moment of momentousness, where everything else fell away and there were only the loudly proclaiming bells stridently marching through an ancient rhythm that pierced my consciousness from all sides. My breath had caught in my throat, and I felt my body yearning to breathe while my mind said, no, not now, stay, stay here, and just be. It was only when the darkness rushed in to eclipse me, and I felt myself falling forward, that I gasped and broke the spell, while still, with mouth agape, I sank to my knees and turned my head slowly to see, hear, smell, and taste the cold, sharp importance of the event. I had passed through much more than a physical doorway, and was now worshipping at a celestial altar. As the last bell faded, I rose shakily and staggered out of the shop, into a man-made cacophony that beat upon me and demanded that I return to the reality I had left just moments before. Yet I knew then that I would never fully return. The veil had been lifted, briefly, just for me, and in the days to come I pondered and struggled with the memory.
Perhaps you will understand, then, why when she appeared, my reaction was not fear, but acceptance and satisfaction. The curtain had risen on the second act. The four polished hooves ascended into impossibly pure and perfect legs that supported a regal frame and a graceful neck that lifted my gaze to be dropped into her eyes. Those eyes had seen millennia pass, had seen empires come and go, and yet they were now focused on me. They saw everything, all my failings, all my yearnings, and all my hopes. There was nothing for me to say; I simply bowed my head and silently waited for her to speak.