Kelly, the Flying Angel

Kelly, the Flying Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Kelly, the Flying Angel

Kelly and the pony met when Kelly was seven. She had gone with her father to a neighbor’s farm to buy seed. The shaggy, brown and white pony stood alone in a pen. Kelly reached through the wires to touch the warm satin of the pony’s nose. Kelly spoke softly as the pony nuzzled Kelly’s fingers. “What’s your name, pony? You seem so sad and lonely.”

“She ain’t got no name,” the farmer grunted. “She ain’t much good anymore. She’s old and she’s blind in one eye. I ain’t got no use for her since the kids are gone.” He turned back to Kelly’s father, who had loaded the bags of seed onto the truck and pulled crumpled bills from his pocket. “You can have her if you pay me somethin’ for the saddle.”

“How much?” her father inquired, barely glancing at the pony.

“Twenty.” The old man reached a callused hand toward the money. Kelly’s father pulled off another bill. Gnarled fingers snatched the bills and stuffed them quickly into the pocket of well-worn, dirty overalls.

Kelly cradled the bridle in her arms as they drove home, her excitement mounting. She kept peeking into the rear of the truck to reassure herself that the pony was still there.

“Now, this pony will be your job. You have to feed her and take care of her. It’ll teach you some responsibility. I don’t have time to mess with her. Understand?” Her father’s voice was stern.

“I’ll do it, Daddy. Thank you for letting me have her. I promise I’ll take good care of her.”

Once they were home and the pony was safely in the stall, Kelly threw hay into the manger, then ran to the house.

“Mom, you should see our pony! She was so lonely, but she’ll be happy here.” Joy sparkled in Kelly’s eyes. “I’ve named her Trixie ’cause I’m going to teach her to do tricks.” Before her mother could respond, Kelly was back out the door to see that Trixie was comfortable. It was then that Kelly introduced Trixie to her angel.

When Kelly was a small child, she had been awakened by a frightening storm. She called to her mother, who reassured her by telling her, “Don’t be afraid. Jesus sends his angels to protect little children.” From then on, Kelly had never actually seen an angel, but she felt a presence at times when she would otherwise have been afraid or lonely.

Kelly brushed the pony’s coat and trimmed her mane and hoofs. Trixie responded to the attention by nuzzling Kelly’s neck, searching her pockets for treats and following her commands. As Kelly rode from the house to the back pasture, she taught Trixie to raise the latches on the gates with her nose. The gates would swing open, and Kelly would close them without dismounting.

Kelly taught Trixie a routine, trying to duplicate tricks she had seen at a circus. She rode standing up and eventually mastered the ultimate stunt of jumping through a crudely constructed hoop on each circuit of the riding ring. Kelly and Trixie became the best of friends.

When Kelly was ten, her parents divorced. Kelly and her dog, Laddie, moved with her mom to a small farm several miles away. The problems between her parents kept Kelly from seeing her father anymore, and because Trixie still lived at her father’s farm, Kelly was doubly miserable.

On the day they left her father’s farm, Kelly walked slowly to the pasture to say good-bye to Trixie. She had never needed her angel’s help more. “Angel,” she sobbed, “please stay with Trixie so she won’t be lonely. I have Mom and Laddie, but Trixie will be all alone. She needs you.” With her small arms around Trixie’s neck, she reassured the pony, “It’ll be all right, Trixie. My angel will take care of you.”

Her parents’ divorce, a new school, a different home and the loss of Trixie turned Kelly’s life upside down all at once. Her mother encouraged her to make friends.

“Come on, Kelly, and ride with us,” two of her schoolmates urged as they sat on their bicycles in the driveway.

Following the two girls down the road, Kelly felt the wind in her hair and the warmth of the sun on her face. She needed friends, she reminded herself, and pedaled faster to catch up.

During the summer, Kelly and her friends rode their bicycles to the park and around the track at the school. With her strong legs, she could match any of them when they raced.

After racing on the track one sunny day, Kelly pedaled home with her new friends. As she bounced along the bumpy, dusty road, the hard edge of the bike seat dug into her leg. She wished she were sitting in her smooth leather saddle on Trixie, gliding over the fresh green grass of the pasture.

Suddenly, the front wheel of the bicycle swerved into a rut. She turned hard to the left to get it out, but it was too late. Hurtling over the handlebars, she bounced off the edge of the road and into a ditch. The girls hurried to her.

“Her injuries are minor,” the doctor informed her mother after Kelly had limped home, “but you’d better keep her quiet for a couple of days.”

Though sore and scratched, Kelly returned to her bicycle in a few days. One morning, she awoke with a numb feeling in her legs. Slowly, she slid her body to the edge of the bed; but as she attempted to stand, she collapsed on the floor.

Puzzled by this development, the doctor examined her carefully.

“Her injuries have healed, but there is some psychological trauma,” he said. “I’ve scheduled therapy, and stretching exercises should help.” Kelly went home in a wheelchair.

As she sat on the porch, she hugged Laddie close and stared wistfully across the field. “Please, God, please bring Trixie and my angel back to me. I need them so.”

One day a letter came from Kelly’s father:

Dear Kelly,

  Your aunt told me about your accident. I’m sorry to hear about it. I have made arrangements to have your pony delivered to you next week. She has been opening all the gates and letting my stock out of the pasture. I think she is looking for you. Maybe having her will help you feel better.

Love,
Dad

In a few days a truck arrived, and Trixie was led down the ramp. Nuzzling Kelly’s neck and snorting at Laddie, the pony checked out her new home. Kelly petted Trixie’s head and neck as far as she could reach from her wheelchair, and kissed her on the nose. “Trixie, Trixie, I knew you would come. Thank you, thank you.”

Kelly awoke the next morning with renewed determination. She wheeled herself to the barnyard with a treat for Trixie. Grasping Trixie’s mane, she pulled herself up from the wheelchair and stood beside the pony. Stretching to reach Trixie’s back, she brushed her until the pony’s coat shone.

Kelly’s legs grew stronger each day. Then, eager to ride, she climbed up the wooden fence and struggled to pull herself onto the pony’s back. Trixie’s coat was warm and silky against Kelly’s bare legs.

“Look! I’m riding. . . . I’m riding!” Kelly yelled as Trixie’s slow trot bounced her up and down like a rag doll. “Go, Trixie!” Kelly dug her heels into the pony’s sides, and they raced through the gate to the open pasture. Kelly squealed with delight, and Laddie ran after them, barking wildly.

When school started, an enthusiastic Kelly sprang onto the bus with a cheerful greeting. No more wheelchair for her! At home, a poster of a circus hung in Kelly’s room. It showed a smiling angel. In Kelly’s bold, colorful printing it read, “Kelly, the Flying Angel—Shows Nightly and Weekends.”

Louise R. Hamm

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