This is my offering from Day Two of the Iron Writer's 12 Days of Christmas Challenge. The required elements were:
Two turtle doves
She had always suffered from sehnsucht. She had planted magic beans in hopes of a beanstalk, had opened and explored every closet and wardrobe she could find. It had all led, predictably, to naught. Still, though, maybe, oh maybe this time. . . She walked up to the tracks. The wind was blowing harder now. A veritable gale, Ryan had to work hard to not to be pushed sideways, to be sent skittering across the gravel. Oddly, the American flag at the post office beyond the tracks was flaccid, hanging limply against the silver pole. The ground vibrated and slowly the air itself began to moan. Ryan thought she could see a shimmer in the crisp winter nothingness before her. This was it, then. It was time. Suddenly, she found herself paralyzed, her feet rooted to the ground. What if it were all just foolishness? More than that, what if it weren’t? What if she really were abandoning everything she had ever known in order to become a Rider? And that was the best case. There were other stories, too, tales of the wretched frostbitten souls who were caught in the wind but denied passage, doomed to be forever yanked from one time and place to another, to be bitten by the bitter wind, but never allowed inside. What if that were to be her fate? Ryan took a deep breath and leapt, wrenching her feet from the ground. The wind crescendoed, the world spun around her, a nexus of color and light. There was a thump, and all went dark. When Ryan opened her eyes, she was sitting in an open boxcar, filled with fragrant straw. A pair of doves greeted her with coos.
Three French Hens
Three French Hens
In one corner of the car a magnificent rooster with a great green plume of a tail, and three hens pecked contentedly in the straw. Ryan’s makeshift pillow moved and she sat up, turning to look into the placid, long-lashed eyes of a massive bovine. The cow looked back, unperturbed, and curled its prehensile tongue around a wisp of hay, pulling it into its mouth. Next to the cow lay a donkey. Ryan stretched out her hand and patted its soft muzzle; the creature nuzzled her in reply. Closer examination of the boxcar revealed only a single door, latched securely against the rushing winds. Was this it, then? Then, Ryan spotted it, a small wooden table tucked between some bales of straw. On it laid a silver plate, covered in filigree. In the middle of the plate, seemingly impervious to the rocking and jostling of the massive machine, was a small bottle, stoppered with a cork, and containing a small amount of powder. Ryan felt a tickle in her stomach and an involuntary grin split her face. She picked up the bottle and uncorked it. It smelled spicy, exotic. Her hands began to tremble as she turned the bottle upright onto her tongue. There was another of the dizzying spins, not so bad this time, and when she opened her eyes a door, ornate and incongruous among the steel and livestock, had appeared.