The Healing Horse, Ch. 40, Scene 4: Finding the Barn

Photo of red barn

Isn’t it wonderful when the universe gives you exactly what you need at precisely the right time? Young Karen has learned to trust the universe, and once again, it helps her in her growth into a dance instructor and disabilities advocate.

[Image by Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 4: Finding the Barn

On Monday, while walking to Pegasus’ stable after school, she noticed a nice-sized, empty red barn, just around the corner from an exclusive shopping district.

The barn was big enough for her to do her steps, as well as teach. Peeking in through the windows, she saw it had hardwood floors and mirrors that wrapped around the entire main room. It couldn’t get any better. She wondered if it had once been a dance studio, and why she had not noticed it before. But she would not question why. It looked like it had been made to order for her.

This would be just right for me! I hope I can find the owner. What a wonderful place to practice! Pegasus could even put his head through the Dutch door and watch me dance.

It would be a heavenly site to practice and teach, in a dream-come-true location, midway between her house and the stables. It could be her own special hangout. So, with no uncertainty, she walked to the main office of the stable that the barn was part of.

The office was around the corner, with some boutiques. Small shops, each one unique and alluring, filled three blocks of the street. They sold everything from candy to hand-carved artisan furniture to fine art and couture clothing.

The office had welcoming French doors opening from the sidewalk. Kitten peered through the glass at a blonde woman sitting behind a stately, cherry wood Boulevard desk. In her thirties, she had a chic Joan of Arc haircut sculptured around her angular chin. She wore a stylish gray jacket and gray maxi-skirt with a black turtleneck sweater. She looked up and smiled.

Karen thought to herself, Maybe I should go inside. Maybe I should ask this lady a few questions. Maybe she’ll know something. It couldn’t hurt. The worst she could say is she didn’t know! Right? Of course! Why should I be afraid to ask? I give myself permission to be brave. I won’t be afraid! My intention is now clear. I’ll just be myself and see what transpires. It will be a fresh experience in dealing with others. I’ve been through way harder things. This will be a breeze.

She held her left arm in her strong right hand and embraced herself as she nourished her inner self.

She remembered the wonderful feeling of liberation she had felt on the bridge Saturday night, but she knew she had to accept her fear and work with it in order to manifest everything she felt within herself.

Kitten also recognized that it was her fear trying to protect her. Thus, she had to walk thru her fear and become fearless. She had to demonstrate and prove this to herself and the universe. She had to send love to her fear and thank that feeling in order to walk through it and not freeze where she was.

When she asked about the barn, the lady at the desk replied, “Sure, I can help you! You want to talk to Mr. Hellweg.”

She pointed toward a small, older gentleman with short white hair, who was reading the New York Times.

Kitten smiled. “Thanks a lot,” she said, as she marched over to the man.

“Pardon me, Mr. Hellweg. Could I talk with you? The receptionist gave me your name. I saw an empty red barn down the road, close to the stables. I was wondering if I could use it every day to practice my dance routines. These exercises are helping me help others like myself, who have cerebral palsy. I’d like to get as strong as I’m able so I can give of myself and be an example! I give free dance lessons to handicapped children, and I am developing a kind of aerobics for people who have difficulty standing or using their limbs. I call it chair aerobics. I would like to use the barn for that, too.”

Mr. Hellweg grinned. He didn’t have to think twice. He saw the beauty of her goodness-giving light.

“That’s my place! I’m a retired stuntman, and I used to teach Judo classes and indoor stunts there, but I don’t use it anymore. It would be wonderful to have it in use again.”

With a contented smile, he took a deep, delighted breath, and added, “I’d love for you to work out there. It would be a joy to see you dancing and exercising there. I’m glad to be of any help to you, darling!”

Karen said, “I also have a big, beautiful ballet bar that my dance teacher gave me years ago. Would you mind if I brought it down to the barn?”

“Not at all. I’ll even help you attach it!”

Karen was so thrilled she was ready to jump up in the air and click her heels. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Hellweg. This is so generous of you! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me! Thank you so very much!”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


The Healing Horse, Ch. 40, Scene 3: Sunday Heart-to-Heart

photo of bagel with lox, cream cheese, and capers

Notice how careful Karen is with her mother’s feelings. This is not a take-no-prisoners revolution into adulthood. This is a gentle declaration of freedom and thanks. 

[Image by Newmila, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 3: Sunday Heart-to-Heart

The next day was Sunday, and Karen got up early to fix breakfast for Mama and herself. When Mama woke up, she smelled coffee and toasting bagels.

In the kitchen, she hugged her daughter and said, “My Krana Layala, thank you for breakfast. You really made my day.”

Karen had thought about what she had to tell her Mama and how to put it gently so she did not hurt her feelings. She poured her a cup of coffee and put it on the dining table with her own cup of peppermint tea. Then she spread cream cheese on half a bagel and added lox for protein before placing a few capers on top for extra flavor. That was for Mama. She made one just like it for herself and put them on the table.

“Thanks, Mama. You make my day, every day. Let’s sit down and talk for a minute.”

“Sure, my dear, but I can tell there’s something on your mind. It’s about the dance studio, isn’t it? I promise you, I can find a suitable space for you. I’ll get right on it and stay on it until I find the perfect place.”

Karen sipped her tea and dunked the peppermint tea bag before replying. She did not want to reject Mama’s help, but she needed to find a studio independently—in her own way and time. In her mind, these were two different things. She watched as Mama sipped her coffee in silence.

“That’s just it, Mama. I’m eighteen now, and I feel I should be able to do things free from outside help or influence. How will I ever find a studio independently if you keep aiding me? I feel like I can’t even do things interdependently. This is really important. I want to have my own sense of interdependency between us. I want to gain my own worth and self-confidence. This will never be possible if you keep taking control.

“I appreciate your help and everything you have done for me my entire life, but I need you to back off. How will I ever grow up and learn to do anything on my own if you keep taking over? And how can I be expected to teach dance if I can’t even find a studio space alone? How will I ever be able to live my life in this world if you keep doing these things?”

It was Mama’s turn to pause, and Kitten wondered what she would say.

Mama gasped. There was silence for a moment or two. “Do I really do that to you, Krana Layala?”

“Yes Mama, you do. All the time. I know you only want the best for me, but how will I ever live in this world and function as a healthy person if you keep doing everything for me?”

“I am so, so sorry I do this to you. I had no idea you felt this way… I never meant to hurt you like this. You are my daughter. My life. My world. I have no meaning or purpose without you! I understand what you tell me now and how I naturally take over. I really need to change and do something about this. Sometimes, I forget that you’re growing up and must do things for yourself. There is nothing wrong with that. Those are feelings we all go through, whether or not we are disabled… I even went through it. All people go through this in their lives. This is part of living life to become more of yourself. I apologize if I took that desire away from you.

“I also recognize that you want to rely on your strengths, resources, and powers to grow as a person. I don’t want to take that away from you! If not, you will remain my little girl, never knowing how to care for yourself. I am always here if you need me or my opinion. So, go ahead, my child, grow and bloom. I will support you and whatever you want to accomplish. I don’t want to be that mama you described. I apologize if I take those healthy acts of growing up away from you. I’ll help if you ask, otherwise, I’ll take a step back. All right?”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


The Healing Horse, Ch. 40, Scene 2: Advice and Healing

photo of decorative bridge

Sometimes in life, we reach a point where we must cross a bridge from one stage to another, from where we are to becoming more who we truly are. This is such a moment for Karen.

[Image of Decorative Bridge by Christine Westerback, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 2: Advice and Healing

She found Pegasus, and they strolled up the slope toward Joshua’s ranch. When they reached the Old-Fashioned Garden, at the beginning of his property, she dismounted. Inhaling the lilac fragrance and letting the spiritual essence enter her, she told Pegasus what happened.

He asked, “How do you feel about this now?”

“I’m grateful to Mama for trying to help, but I feel like she is my dear, dear Mama and will always be overprotective of me. But she is too helpful. She is taking over and doesn’t realize all the time that she allows me to do things for myself. This time, it’s allowing me to find a dance studio on my own. I want to learn from this experience. I want it to be my learning experience, not mine and Mama’s. I need to do this independently, and I hope she understands. I’m eighteen now, and I can do things for myself. At least, I think I can.”

“Do you feel like your Mama is holding you back?”

“No. Not exactly holding me back, but doing too much for me, so I can’t grow.”

“Kitten, the time has come in your life when you must take charge. That’s why your Mama could not find a dance studio for you. She could not find one today, and she can never find one for you. You need to grow beyond any limiting beliefs and distorted destructive tapes about yourself as a person with a handicap. This is your growth process, and your Mama cannot help you. You need to meditate and release all sources of negativity, fear, anxiety, and doubt. You need to accept what is taking place in the moment, in the here and now, so you can align yourself with the universe. And when you do this, the universe will provide.”

He let his words sink in.

“You’re right, boy. Let’s go to The Bridge of Silence, and I will meditate on this while the healing energy of the universe reintegrates me and brings me into alignment with it.”

She climbed onto her mentor’s back, and they proceeded to the tiny, arched bridge. She sat absolutely still on his back and turned her attention inward. She felt the healing energy do its work of detaching her from the half-truths that held her back and replacing them with the full truth of her self.

After a while, Pegasus said, “I sense you are now healed.”

“Yes. Let me also be grateful for this moment and this learning experience.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


The Healing Horse, Ch. 40: The Red Barn

Welcome to Chapter 40, The Red Barn. Have you wondered how little Karen’s life would play out when she stopped being little girl Karen and became young lady Karen? First, she earned her driver’s license. Meanwhile, the world whirled on. But she stayed centered in her heart, guided by her spirit. In the story, her heart is represented by Pegasus the magical horse. In reality, it was me being true to myself. It was me, and I am still me. 

Remember, if I can do it, you can do it, too! Love yourself. Accept yourself. You are lovely, and I accept everything about you.

On to the next chapter! Stay with me!

[Image of MacBird performance by Steve Lang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 1: Growing Up Fast

Karen’s high school years passed, hairstyles changed, and hemlines rose. Lyndon Baines Johnson continued as President, and R. Crumb became the greatest living cartoonist, while MacBird! became a popular play, and the Viet Nam War raged. Twiggy, with her painted-on eyelashes, became the leading fashion model.

Karen grew from being sweetly naïve into a sophisticated young woman of the world. She was not afraid of being a normal person. Karen allowed nothing and no one to impede her. She felt good about herself. No one could take away her confidence and self-worth. She built her character and worked hard on this throughout the years. She was levelheaded, and so could confidently take on new, mature matters by herself and reap the rewards of her growing independence.

Mama was ecstatic that her disabled daughter was blossoming into a young woman who not only expressed her joie de vivre through dance and horseback riding, but who shared it with students. Karen dedicated every moment to becoming the strongest and smartest person she could be. She wanted to give back. She became the change she wanted to see in the world.

She not only studied with Gilberto. She taught at his studio. And she taught disability horseback riding for Joshua. He wanted to pay her, but she refused. Gilberto paid her, and she donated her earnings to help Joshua turn his disability horse ranch into a proper business.

However, she needed more space than when she was a child. Gilberto’s studio was too busy for her to use for practice. Besides, along with teaching classes for him, she had taken on several disabled children as students, and she needed a studio to teach them. Her bedroom was too small. There was hardly room to practice spot turns without bumping into the bed or chest of drawers, much less teach kids to dance. She tried using the living room, but it was not much better. Finding an ample, peaceful space for practice and teaching became Karen’s primary goal.

One Saturday morning, over their usual breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and lox, Mama said, “My Krana Layala, we have to find you a proper studio to dance. You’re going to hurt yourself trying to use your bedroom. You’re too grown up now. Nevermind those kids you teach. It’s too small even for them!”

“But Mama, I asked Gilberto, and he says finding studio space is nearly impossible. There isn’t enough to go around.”

“You just let your Mama do her magic. Didn’t I find you a stable for Pegasus? Didn’t I find you Miss Natalie, for your math? And didn’t I find you Gilberto for your dancing? I’ll use the phone book and the classifieds, along with my natural intuition. I’m sure I’ll find something for my girl.”

Karen left to spend the morning with Pegasus as Mama sat down at her desk with the yellow pages and the newspaper.

When Karen got back, they ate lunch. Karen changed into a leotard and tights with a light purple striped dress that had a bow in back over them. They jumped into Mama’s car and drove into town. Mama had found four places that rented out studio space by the hour. Unfortunately, the first two were dirty. The third was clean but fully booked during after-school hours. A rude man who operated the fourth scoffed at Karen for having a handicap.

They drove home, and Mama called some friends. No one knew of any spaces.

She hung up the phone and said, “Oy vey! My Krana Layala. This is tough, but I don’t give up. We’ve done enough for today, but I’ll keep trying next week.”

Karen looked into her heart before replying. “Thanks for being my Mama and understanding, but you’ve done so much for me my whole life. I need to think this through for myself. I need to go into our garden, amongst our serene oases and listen to my intuition. I need to listen to my most beautiful and powerful self before talking with Pegasus. I feel that now, from the direction Pegasus, Mama, and Gilberto have given me, I can make my own now. I will begin to rely on and trust the answers that are within me. As a young woman of twenty, I feel I can turn to myself and the choices I make. I will become emotionally stronger and I will become more self-sufficient and reliant.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


The Healing Horse, Ch. 39, Scene 7: The Stop

A magical, spiritual influence has always run through my life. In this scene, I express my thanks. And it ends with me becoming a real California driving girl and listening to Simon & Garfunkel while I drive.

Scene 7: The Stop

Driving up the long road to their Topanga Canyon bungalow brought back memories to Karen. She gripped the wheel of the big Chevy and maneuvered it through the heavy traffic, but in her heart she dwelt upon Pegasus and all he had done for her, all he had given and sacrificed for her, over the years. Like Gil, he always stood by her. He always stood by her side and gave her the wisdom to cope.

She glanced at Mama. “Do you mind if we make a stop on the way home? You know where.”

Mama smiled. “I think that would be very appropriate.”

Karen drove past their home and on to Tex’s ranch. Pegasus was waiting for her. He stood in the pasture next to the parking lot, and when she opened the Chevy’s door and stepped out from the driver’s side, he neighed. That said it all.

“Hi boy,” she said, as she always did.

He grinned. “You did it, didn’t you, Kitten? You got yourself a driver’s license. Do you still need me?”

Karen nodded. “I will always need you in my life, boy. I got my license, but you will always be the one who brought me from being less than myself to becoming my true self, and riding on you will always transport my soul.”

He smiled and let her return to her thoughts.

Oh, how accomplished and proud she felt! Once again, she had proved to herself that she could do anything she set her mind to.

From then on, she drove the streets of LA, the Valley, Westwood Boulevard, and Santa Monica—wherever her heart desired—while listening to Simon and Garfunkel on K-EARTH, blasting on the radio, with the windows rolled down, and the beautiful California breeze blowing through her hair.

As she drove, she improved her skills. She found she could slide her right hand across the steering wheel to trip the turn signal. Her left arm grew stronger and straighter by reaching, extending, and stretching as she drove. Truly, just as she mastered dance and horseback riding, she became a Southern California driving girl.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 39, Scene 6: The Test

You probably know how this scene will turn out. Karen is on a roll and scores another victory for her increasing independence. Hooray!

[Image by Atlantic Training CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 6: The Test

Over the summer, Karen completed her Driver’s Ed course and practiced driving every chance she had. Mama felt so confident in her daughter’s abilities that she had Karen drive whenever she needed to run an errand. So, driving the two of them from Topanga Canyon to Culver City was fairly routine for Karen. What was not routine was driving to the DMV to take her driver’s license test. 

As she drove, her mind churned about the written test. She knew she could pass the driving part, but was not sure about memorizing the questions in the pamphlet. After a few minutes of letting her imagination forecast failure, she took a deep breath. I can do this. I know the laws about driving, and even if I have to take extra time, I can pass the written test. With this affirmation, her mind stilled, and she breezed through both the written exam and the driving test. 

The short, chubby DMV clerk behind the counter pushed her curly brown hair out of her eyes, then smiled at Karen and said, “Here’s your temporary license. The permanent one will come by mail in about a month.” She slid Karen’s license over to her. For her, it was just another license. For Karen, it was a license to freedom. Karen picked it up, and her heart swelled. Beside her, Mama gasped.

Karen said, “Thank you,” but in her mind, she said much more. I did it! I knew I could pass the driving test, but I aced the written one, too. 

Mama threw her arms around Karen. Mazel tov! My Krana Layala. You did it. You can drive, now. I always knew you could do this, but now it’s official.”

They hugged for a moment, then Karen brushed the tears of joy off her mother’s cheeks. “Come on, Mama, we’re holding up the line. Let’s go outside.”

She led her mother out through the plate glass door and onto the sidewalk. “Mama, you’re more excited than I am.”

Mama blinked back more tears of joy and dug into her purse. “You’d better put that license into your wallet, my Krana Layala. And here’s something to go with it.”

She lifted a sparkling silver key and dangled it in front of Karen’s eyes. Karen held out her hand, and Mama gently placed the key in her palm. It was attached to a key fob.

“Oh, Mama.” Now it was Karen’s turn to tear up. She held up the fob. “It’s a lavender flying horse. It’s Pegasus.”

“I knew you would pass the tests, but without him, none of this could ever have happened.”

Karen wrapped her arms around Mama and held her close. They hugged, sharing the joy of victory. After a few minutes, they stepped back, still smiling.

Karen raised her eyebrows and grinned. “May I offer you a ride home?”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 39, Scene 5: Driving

Scene 5 continues the saga of learning to drive—with a near-disaster! Why the YouTube of a transit bus? Read on… 


Scene 5: Driving

At last, the day came. Karen had her learner’s permit, and she was ready to drive.

Mr. Dominguez led her and her three classmates out of the classroom into the hot California summer sun. There, parked in front of the school, was the car. It was a new Plymouth Fury, a beautiful white four-door sedan with a V-8 under the hood and an automatic transmission. It had power everything—brakes, windows, and steering. The gray steering nob bolted to the wheel at twelve o’clock was just like the simulator. This car was exactly what she needed, and she felt it, deeply, as she opened the driver’s door and snuggled into the hot, muted gold upholstery of the driver’s seat. She inhaled. Even the hot vinyl smelled good. This was her Driver’s Ed car. The tension in her stomach went away. Learning to drive was a gigantic step toward independence. She had found the courage to sign up for the class. Now, her heart swelled with the courage to drive.

Karen’s three classmates crammed into the back seat. Mr. Dominguez opened the front passenger door and slid in. He looked around and said, “Down here by my feet, I have a brake pedal I can use if there’s an emergency and Karen doesn’t react fast enough. That’s for safety, but I hardly ever have to use it. Now, what’s the first thing you do when you get in a car?”

“Fasten your seatbelt.” Karen and the kids in back all said at once, and four seatbelts clicked shut.

“What’s next?”

“Start the engine.” They all said it together and laughed.

Karen swallowed hard and reached for the ignition key. She felt Mr. Dominguez and the other kids watching her strong right hand as she turned the key and the engine roared into life. She had done it. “Now I check my rearview mirror and look all around before putting the car into drive, right?”

Mr. Dominguez said, “You know the steps, Karen. Do them in order, and everything will be all right.”

Karen checked the mirror and looked around. She put her strong right foot on the brake pedal and pulled the transmission lever on the steering column into drive. She released the parking brake and eased off on the brake pedal. The big car rolled forward. Mr. Dominguez had her practice driving around the school parking lot, using the turn signals, backing and driving forward, and parallel parking.

After a few minutes, he said, “You’ve got it, Karen. Let’s see how you do in traffic. Do you feel ready?”

“Yes, sir! I am ready.”

He grinned at her and said, “Turn left when we get to Grand Avenue. It’s not busy this time of day, so just take it easy and let yourself get a feel for driving.”

Karen let the car idle across the lot to the stop sign at the end of the school driveway. She looked both ways. No cars. Nobody on foot. Nobody on a bicycle. She pushed the turn signal lever down with her left hand and began her turn. In a few seconds, she was out on the road and driving thirty-five miles per hour with the traffic flow.

She drove with ease and confidence. After the many weeks in the simulator, she had now taken the wheel of a real car.

After three or four miles, they were heading toward downtown. Suddenly, a big orange and white transit bus pulled out from the curb, right in front of her. No signal. No warning. She slammed on the brakes so fast that Mr. Dominguez did not have time to use his emergency brake pedal. The other students shrieked in terror, and Mr. Dominguez grasped his chest.

“Are you okay, sir?” Karen asked.

“Yes. I’m fine. I have a heart condition, but I’ll be all right. That bus could’ve killed us all. Your fast reflexes saved our lives.”

He raised his voice and said, “This is a good example of how dangerous driving can be. It’s a combat situation. Drive defensively, like Karen. Then you will be safe. Now, who wants to drive next?”

The car was silent. Karen glanced in the rear-view mirror at her classmates. They burst into giddy laughter. One of the boys said, “Can this just be Karen’s lesson? She’s doing a great job, and I’d kinda like to wait until tomorrow.”

Karen took a deep breath, and her heart expanded with gratitude and pride. She loved driving.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 39, Scene 4: The Learner’s Permit

Image of interior of Culver City DMV

Young Karen continues her string of victories when she goes to the DMV and walks out with? Her Learner’s Permit!

[Image from Looks like this DMV office still gets good reviews.]


Scene 4: The Learner’s Permit

Session after session, she worked on her driving skills that summer. When it was not her turn to use the simulator, she sat in the classroom and watched films about defensive driving and studied the driver’s manual, if Mr. Dominguez were not lecturing, that day.

As she practiced in the simulator, she learned to use her left hand to operate the turn signal. For the headlights and other controls, she used her right hand. Using her left was spontaneous and spiritual as her body responded to her need to use it.

After passing the classroom written examinations and meeting all the school standards on the simulator, Karen at last sat peacefully in her mother’s 1964 Chevy Malibu Super Sport as Mama navigated the roads between Topanga Canyon and the nearest California DMV office, the one in Culver City.

Mama reached her right hand across to Karen’s beautiful disabled left hand. “I am so proud of you. Look what you’re accomplishing. You’ve proved to me you can do everything you put your mind towards doing. I apologize if I ever doubted you, my sweet daughter.”

A knot of emotion released from Kitten’s center. She lifted her left arm and reached back toward Mama’s hand, gripping it and beaming with an inner feeling of love.

Another few miles and they were almost there. It was a clear, crisp day, and the weather was perfect in Southern California.

Mama parked in the DMV lot, and for a moment, feelings overwhelmed Karen. She thought to herself, Kitten, you can do this. You can pass this test. You are fearless—do this thing that you fear the most. Know that you are safe. Just believe in yourself. Now, walk through your fear and through the DMV door.

Karen got out of the car and took the lead. Mama followed her. Karen opened the plate glass door and took a number from the machine. She and Mama were number 213, and the current number was only 198.

The room was not full. There were lots of places to sit, but none where two people could sit together. While sitting down in a chair away from her mama, Kitten gazed at the number machine, repeating her affirmations. Steadily, she thoughtfully contemplated them to reinforce and fortify her positive beliefs about herself.

When her number came, she thought it was not her. But it was her. Number 213, and she aced the test.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 39, Scene 3: The Simulator

In the 1960s, schools used a simulator so students could practice reacting to situations they might encounter while driving. This was like a tiny car with a movie screen in front of it. The movie would show things like trucks pulling out in front of the car or a train suddenly roaring by. This sounds difficult, but it was actually a lot of fun. And it helped prepare me for the real thing. 

Too bad this one has already been sold. You could’ve bought it for your living room (just kidding).

[Image from]

Scene 3: The Simulator

It was now the warmest season of the year, when the sun blazed and children giggled, swam, and played, all while eating hot dogs and ice cream on a stick. It was the first Monday after school got out for the summer.

Her Driver’s Ed class would start this morning. Karen arrived early. Mama had signed the permission slip. Karen had it in her purse, not in her binder. Her binder was for ordinary school work. The precious permission slip belonged in safe keeping with her wallet and other valuables.

A large travel trailer converted for classroom use had been moved near the front entrance of the school, where the buses usually sat.

She took the front row center seat so she would not miss a word the teacher said and unfolded the permission slip so she would have it ready when he asked for it. A few minutes before eight, Mr. Dominguez arrived. He was going to teach the class personally. He complemented her on being early and then settled in behind the big desk in the front of the classroom. The other three students arrived promptly at eight and sat in a row beside her.

After he collected their permission slips, he gave each student a copy of the official California Driver’s Handbook and the California Vehicle Code Summary for them to study.

“Now, it’s time for one of you to try the driving simulator. Who wants to go first?”

She looked beside her at the other students. No one moved, so she followed her intuition and raised her strong right hand. “Me! Karen!”

Mr. Dominguez said, “I had a feeling it would be you, so let’s go to the simulator trailer. You other students can begin reading your driver’s manuals. I’ll be back as soon as I get Karen started.”

She followed Mr. Dominguez down the steps of the classroom trailer and back up more steps into the converted travel trailer that was next door and held the driving simulator. A smile quietly quivered on her lips. This trailer was a twenty-footer, not big enough for classrooms, but big enough for the simulator.

The simulator looked like one of the miniature cars on a Disneyland ride. It had a steering wheel, a gas pedal, a brake pedal, a turn signal lever, and a dashboard. The wheel also had a steering knob bolted to it at twelve o’clock, so she could steer using only her strong right hand. She worked it, the gas, and the brakes with her right foot and hand. For the turn signals, she learned to use her left hand. A movie screen in front of the car showed a film of driving situations, and she responded to them by using the controls. Again, her mouth curved into a smile.

Mr. Dominguez looked on as she practiced through frame after frame of the Driver’s Ed movie. She smiled back at him, when he smiled as she corrected herself whenever she went over a line or swerved too far. After he saw she was getting the hang of it, he went back to the classroom and left her to perfect her technique on her own. Kitten tilted her head with pride. She was blown away by her ability to acquire these driving techniques.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 39, Scene 2: Mama Reacts

photo of green salad

Scene 2 continues young Karen’s pursuit of a driver’s license as she discusses what it means with Mama.

[Image by Shijan Kaakkara, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 2: Mama Reacts

The bus stopped in front of Karen’s house, and she easily hopped down the steps to the ground while remembering how difficult this used to be. She thought about the two sheets of paper tucked into her binder with the rest of her school stuff. Somehow, she would find a way to discuss the subject with Mama.

After she visited Pegasus, she walked back home and helped prepare dinner.

Mama broiled chicken and baked potatoes to go with Karen’s green salad. Together, they carried the food to the table and sat down. It smelled wonderful.

Karen swallowed a bite of food, then said, “Mama, something happened at school today that I’d like to discuss with you—a genuine opportunity presented itself for me to become more independent.”

“That’s wonderful, my girl,” Mama replied. “How do you want to become more independent?”

At that moment, Karen remembered, I can’t be afraid of talking to my own Mama for her consent to learn how to drive. I don’t have time to beat around the bush. I just have to say it.

Karen paused. She had discovered the opportunity.

“Well, Krana Layala?” Mama asked.

Karen’s eyes lingered. She looked down before giving more detail.

“Well, Mama, I think I could do more for myself and not be such a burden for you to take care of.”

Karen got shy again and crossed her arms. She felt defensive about this conversation. It was most difficult, but she did it with a spirit as if she were facing danger. She never ever told Mama these feelings before.

“Oh, honey. You have never been a duty or a burden to me! Where did you get that from?”

“Well, I know how much energy you put forth. Every day you wake up early to feed me, tie my shoes, zip up my dresses, do my pretty ponytails, wash and starch my clothes, and take me to and from dance, swim, and tutoring sessions. That’s how you show me how much you love me! You have even returned to school to bring me homework assignments when I forgot them.”

Mama Katie smiled. “What did grandma put me here on earth for?”

Karen beamed. “What”

“You are my light and joy. What you were named after, Krana Layala.” Mama said.

“Do you really mean that?” Kitten asked.

“I don’t say things I don’t mean, honey. I love you with all my heart. You should know your mama by now.” Mama smiled wisely.

Karen felt relieved. Her sense of assuredness came back in full force. “I’m sixteen, Mama, and I’d like to learn how to drive. Would that be all right with you?

Mama took a deep breath.

“That’s my Krana Layala. That’s my independent girl. This will not be easy. I remember when Grandpa taught me to drive, so I didn’t have to ride the bus with diaper bags and satchels in one hand and you in the other. Nothing you have done has ever been easy. But I am so proud of you and your determination to conquer all, including getting this license. After you get your driver’s license, you can take your dear old Mama to Ohrbach’s on a shopping spree.”

They both broke out giggling.

Karen watched as her mother’s eyes crinkled with delight. Mama looked up, directly into Karen’s eyes.

“My precious Krana Layala, I’ve always known the day would come, and honestly, the thought scared me. But I also knew that I would have to let you spread your wings, grow up, and follow your own dreams. I will not stand in your way anymore, my darling. That isn’t fair to either of us. I learned my lesson long ago when you firmly spoke up to me about preparing dinner like an equal. You showed me how you put your attention and mind into your actions.”

Sharing in this way connected and bonded them more deeply than ever before. They enfolded each other in their arms and kissed and held their embrace with new praise for and celebration of each other.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.