The Belly Riders

After all the waiting, months and months of
preparations and years of training, it was all about to
bare fruit. Aged twenty six, Lorena was about to fulfil
her ambition. Looking though the crowd that seemed to
have materialised from nowhere she watched for the
gates of the compound to open, allowing the contingent
to make its way to the assembly point for the
procession that would start of the first day of Mardi
Gras.

It was not easy to see from her position, looking
through horse’s legs, people with flamboyant costumes
of flowing material, people with almost nothing on
except a head dress, and at the lead position, the
float, representing the subject that had been chosen by
this school for this year’s procession.

Lorena looked around her at the other participants as
she waited. They were of both sexes and of a variety of
ages. She was not the oldest by a long shot but neither
was she the youngest, there were at least a dozen
girls, aged about ten or twelve, out for their first
parade.

Everybody was chatting as they watched for the first
sign that they were on their way. Nobody seemed
nervous, except Lorena, everybody seemed to take it in
their stride, it was to be a lot of fun and if they
should win the coveted first prize for the best float
or costume, well that was a bonus. Primarily this was a
celebration, of life, love and living. They were all
out here to enjoy just that, life love and living.

The streets would be lined on both sides with
spectators from all over the world, all come to see the
wonderful display that made the three day spectacle
that was the Rio de Janeiro, annual Mardi Gras. Lorena
was so nervous that she was sure she needed to pee, but
it was too late now. A small boy marched importantly to
the front of the crowd and slowly with difficulty
pulled the wide three meter high wooden gates open one
by one.

As he started to push on the second gate a man went
over to help him, taking pity on the lad who had such a
monstroustask. “I can manage on my own.” The lad’s
voice rang out over the hoard of competing
exhibitionists. This prompted some laughter, as the boy
felt very proud of being chosen to start the revellers
on their way. But the man persisted and soon others
were there to help start the procession.

The float, with its many exhibitors slowly started to
move and swing out into the road. Coloured in red,
white and violet with intermediate shades of pink,
Lorena thought it made a beautiful sight, and was proud
to be able to take her place in such a distinguished
show of skill and bravado.

The young girls dressed as angels and nymphs followed
the float, followed themselves by a band of men dressed
as devils and demons. These led a group of supposedly
tortured slaves, who in turn led the eight horses and
their riders, of whom Lorena was one. The eight were in
two columns of four and Lorena had been placed third in
line on the right. There would be no obstruction
between her and the observing crowds in the street. She
would be right there next to the people.

She, her horse and the young boy who, dressed as a
tormented soul, led her horse were her own little
group, and the boy was placed in front and to the left
of the horse between the two columns. Everything felt
so right. As the boy took her horse forward to fit her
in to her place in the line, she was comforted to know
that at last it was starting. The horse rocked her
gently as it walked slowly forward, she was led out
through the gates into the wake of the float, and she
thought about the sequence of events that had lead her
to this moment.

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