The Italian Carousel Part 1


I just wish I could get lost somewhere. I know there’s not any point in trudging through this world day after day, like being trapped in a snowstorm with the thick frost feathers swallowing up your knees. 

And I want to go alone. Wherever that is. Unless, of course, Eira agrees to come with me. She’s one of those people that carries herself like a goddess, with hair and skin so white that she is the embodiment of a snowdrift. But not a snowstorm; I would never have to trudge anywhere to find her. I can just follow the honey-glazed sound of her ethereal voice like a silk road. Music, something I don’t have much of a taste for myself, but Eira loves music. Eira is music. But it is not love, and she is not beautiful. It is more of a fascination for the Divine. 

I’ve heard a saying that we all have our own kingdom festered in our minds. I don’t know how much of that is true. My mind is bleak, hopeless it seems, filled only with a deep longing for something else. What is that something else…color? Adventure? The need to escape?

If I could get Eira to come with me, I would follow her to the edge of the earth. Wherever that is.



“Where are we going?” I asked nervously as Eira led me in and out of the dense Colorado woods. 

“A place that’s very special to me, I want to show it to you. Don’t worry, Ashwin, I think you’ll like it.” That didn’t reassure me though, my worry deepening with each crackling step of the dead leaves beneath our feet. Eira began to hum softly, with a voice that could make the forest dance. The only music I ever wanted to hear.

We pushed through condensed clumps of conifers and into a clearing where an abandoned park crumbled. I stared wide-eyed behind her, moving my head wonderingly around at the ramshackle ruins of playgrounds and benches and fountains dried up like a once-prosperous desert oasis, blanketed with crumpled leaves. 

“So this is the place.” 

“It’s a cool right? Quiet, too. But you haven’t seen the best part.” She beckoned me forward toward the sight of a little Italian carousel, delicate and elegant and strewn away by the world. The kind of carousel that is painted to perfection with royal details, that could sweep you off to a faraway land on the back of an artificial horse to call your own. Once touched by the stars and illuminating the light, now left to rust and decay: a vision of the Roman Empire. 

“Huh. Interesting,” I said.

“I’ve heard the horses come to life if you ride them,” she added. “Want to try it out?”

“Isn’t that how carousels work? The horses come to life.” I made quotation marks in the air. 

“Yes…but this one has been out of operation for years. So I guess, it’s haunted or something.” 

“So…is that why it’s special to you? Because it’s haunted?”
She sighed. “No! I’ve been coming here since I was little, and I don’t know, I’ve always found it inspiring. But if you don’t think it’s cool, that’s fine,” Eira said dully.

“No, no, it’s cool, sorry, I was just…distracted.” 



 The following day, Eira was sitting at the edge of the abandoned carousel with staff paper scattered sporadically around the ground. She sang, throwing her voice up and down, bending her creations into shape, and turning to the blizzard of paper to scrawl down a thought. Like a snowstorm, but not quite. It was another one of her songstorms.

“I think I really underestimated this place,” I remarked, emerging into view so that Eira jumps and papers are sent dancing in the air. 

“Gosh, Ashwin, what are you doing here?!” 

“Hey, you’re the one who brought me here, to begin with.”

“Alright fine,” she sighed. “But this is still my Italian carousel. It works well for…what do you call them?” Eira stared down at her work pathetically.

“Songstorms,” I shuffled through the leaves to accompany her at the carousel’s edge.

“Songstorms, that’s right. It’s kind of a mess, I know…” 

“Eira,” I began, almost teasingly. “What goes on in your head?” 

“We’ve been friends for almost a year and you never stop asking me that,” she laughed uproariously.

“I never get an answer.” 

She laughed again. “It’s kind of hard to explain. It seems like you would know if anyone. There’s probably a lot of music, is all I can say.”

“You make a valid point, even though I know you’re embarrassed to be around me. Maybe your other friends would know…”

“Hey, not usually!” Eira replied. “But you are a little weird sometimes.”

“Says the girl having a songwriting explosion in an abandoned park.”

“Whatever.” She suppressed a smile.

“Hey, want to sit on this creepy carousel?” 

“I suggested that a long time ago!” she scolded. “But of course, I want to.” 

Eira perched on a regal, white horse coated with dust and rust, decorated with a once-brilliant, muted saddle dotted with dainty designs and a faded feather atop its head. She gripped the neck as if the horse could take off at any second. I boarded a gray one in front of her, clasping the cold metal bar that impaled the body of the horse, prepared for the little Italian carousel to collapse. Awkwardly I spun around to face Eira, her eyes closed intently as if trying to summon the horse to life. 

“What are you doing?” I asked with a laugh. I received no answer. “Eira?”

“Huh? Oh, sorry, I just started feeling strange, like I was dreaming or something.” I glared at her, puzzled, distress fading into her face. 

“The ghosts must be getting to you. Maybe the horse is coming to life.” 

“That’s the thing…it almost feels like it is,” Eira mused, dazedly patting the wooden horse. 

“Uh, you know I was kidding, right?” That’s when the carousel screeched and slowly began to move. 

“Eira? You said it hasn’t been in operation for years, right? RIGHT?” I shouted, panic arising between us.

“I thought so, I don’t know!” The horses rose and fell, spinning and moving the wind, accelerating with the pounding of my heart. Eira reverted to her meditative state, icy eyes still closed and hands still gripping the rusty pole that held the stoic horse to its circular path. “Eira! What are you doing?!” Once more she didn’t answer. The carousel suddenly picked up immense speed, whirling about much faster than a normal one should be going. I grasped the neck of the wild wooden horse for dear life as the piercing metal bar bent. 

“We have to get off!” I screamed. “EIRA!” Her white hair whipped backward, entwining with the broken bar, yet her face was peaceful as if her soul was somewhere else. I knew I should get off, but looking back at the divine being captured my motion and forced me to potentially kill myself on a paranormal horse. The burnt-out lightbulbs along the carousel exploded to life, sending sparks flying and bright beams blasting in all directions, weight shifting from side to side, summoning seasickness. I squeezed my eyes shut, pretending I was somewhere else, waiting in desperation for the tempest to end. 



I opened my eyes to snow, the cold wetness seeping into my clothes. Lying on my back, blanketed in white, I let the fine flakes powder my black hair before coming to my senses. The air was crisp, but not bitterly cold, and my clothes dried almost as soon as I jolted to my feet. I noticed I was wearing a long, elegant trench coat, with a long scarf to top it off. How is any of this happening?

My surroundings soaked into view: the white plane of snow upon snow, clusters of conifers crowding the area around me and over the mountains in the distance, merging with a glassy sky, and a glowing city, simple and almost medieval-like, but magical all the same. Going forward into the village, rubbing my temples to erase my mind’s fogginess, I felt a hum from the heart of the kingdom, a blissful vibration that stopped me in my tracks. Music. 

Victoriously, melodies rose. Melodies played with instruments I’d never heard, melodies ringing out and floating and completely entrancing me alone in the pouring snow. I didn’t know where I was or how I got there, but all of my questions melted away with the languid sound. Eira must be here, too. I can feel it. 

I walked toward the music of the village, overcome with an urge, picking up speed into almost a run. Past a frozen fountain adorned with a horse, over white-dusted cobblestone streets. The people of the village stood still, each wearing the same long trench coat and scarf, decorated with unique,  ornate patterns and colors. I turned to the direction they faced, the direction of the music, a clear view of a mighty palace. Summoning my courage, I approached a man in a lapis blue coat, hoping for some kind of explanation.

“Excuse me?” The man stared, perplexed, and I worried he didn’t speak English. “I’m not from here. I was just wondering, where am I?” The man smiled. 

“Where else, but Lumik, the purest of kingdoms!” he proclaimed with the most perfect voice I’d ever heard.

“But…how am I here? I was on a carousel and suddenly I just arrived, and my friend is gone. Is this still Earth? Is this place magical?”

“My, so many questions, young foreigner. Perhaps you were brought by the Hevonen, the horse spirits of old.”

“What kind of spirits…” Someone tapped me firmly on the shoulder before I could ask.

“Please keep it down and show some respect, young one. Can’t you see that we are in the presence of God?” a woman whispered sternly.

“Where? I don’t see anything,” I said, craning my neck above the crowd.

“Not see, hear.” She turned away from me as I focused my attention once again to the music, listening for divinity. Something I never searched for much beyond Eira. My thoughts were interrupted by the sudden aureate tones of royal horns from the palace balcony. The town crier emerged between the horn players, clearing his throat.

“We honor the Deity that our melodies embody, Creator of the realms, invoked by the masters,” he called from above.

“Glory to Song!” the kingdom reverberated.

“We honor the Hevonen, wild spirits of time immemorial, guardians of the mind.”

“Hail the Wandering Horses!”

“We honor the High Priestess, gracious ruler of Lumik, bearer of the divine voice.”

“Hail Regina Exalted! Hail Regina Exalted!”

The sacredness of music; the divine voice…my mind jumps to Eira. Eira! Where was she? I had never been so entranced by music before, drawn away from reality. She wasn’t with me, in this strange new land, I have to find her. Must find her…