The carousel animals haunt me because I know them. When they began their procession through my childhood home, I had known no other animals. My father, intolerant to the messes that came with typical household pets, had declared a moratorium on all things beast before I’d even existed. That is, until he discovered the carousel horse.
The house evolved. What had once been a simple roof overhead was now a cross between a ghoulish zoo and a museum. Glassy, unseeing eyes. Legs bent in motion, carrying lean bodies to nowhere. Gaping mouths, gasping for breaths that never came.
Every night, my father would slowly climb the stairs to my loft. As horse with the pink ribbons looked on with unseeing eyes, my father would scrutinize the sanguine floors and the furniture and the closets for anything out of place. No matter how hard I would try, I was never quite as immaculate, as utopian, as that horse. And there, throughout my childhood, she stood. The sterile sentinel.
So many years from horses and blood beneath my feet and daddy’s expectations, I am just a dream away from a time when I wished so desperately to be another carousel in his collection. I think, in truth, he wished it too.
Some nights, I allow myself to look closely at those carefully crafted forgeries, and I see my own wild desperation mirrored in their icy eyes. They long to break free of the fetters of familial expectations, and I long to help them. But who am I to lead this parade of wooden souls, I wonder, as I neatly fold my clothes into the drawer and check to see, before I close my eyes, that everything is in its place.
Kimberly Hamilton lives in the beautiful
Gunnison Valley of . When her dogs and husband aren’t vying for her attention (food), she does laundry. And writes, from time to time. She is a student in the mainstream and genre fiction graduate program at Colorado Western State College.