When the sun rose, Lola was awake. She pulled the covers away from her eyes and scanned the attic. The glass cabinet’s door was now closed.
“Quinn,” she said. “Wake up.”
Quinn startled awake.
“Quinn, look,” Lola pointed her ear toward the corner of the room. The pink dog with a torn leg and the yellow teddy bear with a missing eye were lying in a wagon, sleeping soundly. “They’re back.”
Just then, the hobby horse in the center of the room started to rock back and forth on its own. At first, it rocked slowly, then it picked up speed. He opened his mouth and said, “Welcome, friends.”
Lola and Quinn’s eyes widened.
The horse continued, “We have been waiting for you.” His voice was deep and commanding. It woke up the other stuffed animals and dolls in the room. “My name is Spirit. I’m the oldest here.”
Lola leapt from her bed and approached the old horse.
“Come here, little pup, hop on my back. I’ll give you a ride.” Spirit said as he halted his rocking. “Kitten, there’s room for you, too.”
Quinn and Lola looked at each other. They were afraid and curious at the same time. Lola, always the more out-going, jumped on Spirit’s saddle. Shyly, Quinn pounced and took her place behind Lola.
“Don’t worry. I’m an old horse. I won’t hurt you. I’ve been giving rides to friends for… over a century! That’s more than 100 years.”
Spirit started to rock back and forth, gently.
“I was the finest hobby horse in the toy emporium,” she said.
Then she lurched her body, turning toward the glass cabinet. As she talked, the door became a screen and the movie of her life began to show on the glass. Quinn and Lola reached for something to hold on to as her pace quickened. Suddenly, the painted ropes on her back became real ropes. The saddle – a real saddle, and Spirit, a real horse.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. She came into the store in a red velvet dress, her beautiful blond hair flowing like a mane. Gretchen. My Gretchen. She saw me and knew we would be the best of friends. Her father carried me to the counter and pulled out a crisp dollar bill from his pocket. I cost a whole dollar! In those days, that was a lot of money.”
“We rode home on a horse and carriage. We came here, to this very house. Sometimes Gretchen took me outside and we rode through the gardens. She took care of me. She loved me. I’ve never been happier than rocking outside with Gretchen. She, my kind master, and I her faithful horse.”
Quinn and Lola could see the story unfold on the glass door. Spirit had once been a shiny, fancy hobby horse, with a flowing mane. Gretchen was a child from another era, before cars and planes, before video games and tablets.
“What happened to Gretchen?” asked Lola.
“Gretchen did what all toy owners do,” replied Spirit. “She grew up, got married, moved out and left me here. She came with her own children, and I will admit I enjoyed it when they rode on me. But they grew up too. Now I live here, in the attic. And I remember.”
Quinn leapt down. “This is sad. Come on Lola, let’s get out of here and find Sophia. I can’t take this anymore. Look at all these toys. They are all old, and damaged and unwanted.”
“Wait,” said Spirit. “Don’t go. I can help you find Sophia. I can get you back to her. There’s a way.”
Lola and Quinn stopped in their tracks. “How?” they asked.
“Through there,” said Spirit – motioning to the mysterious glass cabinet.
They looked at the bottom fourth shelf, which now seemed to have a glow about it.