Chapter One (ish) - MAYBE THIS WILL HELP
She sat down in the small sitting room of her and her mother's apartment and sighed. It had been eight whole years since she was in a court room and she really didn't want to go back.
Mrs. Isabelle Carnegie sat down beside her daughter and hugged her. "I know this is the last thing you want to do, but it's better in the end. My income doesn't support both of us anymore."
Andrea or Andi, as she liked to be called, looked at her mom and their matching bright blue eyes met. The little girl just nodded.
When Andi was little she had the perfect life, a loving mother and a loving father, Marcus, Isabelle and Andi. Until Andi turned five when fights started and they got a divorce. Andi's perfect life had fallen apart and she was now living with her mom in a low income apartment during the week, attending school, and living with her dad on the weekends.
Soon after the divorce Isabelle started drinking and was out late nights with friends and Andi's grandmother would have to come and watch her from when she got home from school 'til she went to bed. Isabelle's mother became very ill and couldn't be watching a rambunctious little girl all day and night so Isabelle had to find an alternative.
The custody battle was already too much on Marcus and sadly didn't want to take in Andi because work would be taking too much of his time as it was. As the divorce settled it, Isabelle had full custody and everything was in her hands now.
Now fifteen and not really fitting in with the school kids Andi took up riding horses in a nearby town. Since she didn't have enough money for lessons she became friendly with the instructors and owner of the barn, and they allowed her to muck and work in exchange for lessons.
With everyone against Isabelle and her choices with Andrea, Marcus his parents, and her parents talked and said it'd be best to send her to a boarding school. Isabelle's mother objected and said she needed to be with family, or someone they trusted. “You can’t trust boarding schools,” Isabelle yelled.
She looked into it and started talking to an old family friend. Andi’s godmother and father, whom Isabelle lost touch with after the divorce, said they would gladly take in Andi on such short notice.
Andi looked at the clock, 3:59 it read. She tapped her foot to the second hand waiting for the bell to ring. It was the last day of school and the only thing Andrea wanted to do was run out that door to catch the 4:15 bus to Chapel, where she could finally ride before her social worker, Mrs. Williams picked her up.
Since the divorce and her grandmother became ill, Paige Williams became like a second mother to her, driving her places and "babysitting" her. Mrs. Williams was the mother Andi didn’t really have.
Andi was almost out the door after the bell rang, when Mrs. Williams grabbed her shoulder. "Surprise!" Mrs. Williams piped up.
"You bet it is…what are you doing here?" Andi asked.
"We have another court session, your mother dropped some clothes off at the office so we'll have to hurry to the court house so you can change."
"I'm not going. I'm sick of that stupid place. I'm going to ride."
Unfortunately Andi didn't get her way and was soon in Mrs. Williams car on their way to the court house.
The judge slammed down his gavel and Mrs. Williams escorted Andrea out of the
Courthouse to her car. On the way back to the house nobody talked. Andrea was so used to the awkward silences, she just rolled down the window and let the cool Southampton breeze whip through her hair. “The air is on. You might want to close the window.” Mrs. Williams informed Andrea. Andrea sighed and did as she was told.
“You’ll be with a family in no time. I didn’t know the paper work and court sessions were going to take this long.” Mrs. Williams looked at her young client. Andrea forced a smile, but continued to look out the window.
She was fifteen, nearly sixteen, and very mature for her age since she took care of her mom, herself, and the house. She had naturally black hair that hung just above her shoulders. Her bright blue eyes were usually the first thing to catch your eye, hidden behind long, dark, think eyelashes. She very thin though, normal height, but very thin.
“Will you drop me off at Glendale’s? I’ll walk home from there later.” Andi asked Mrs. Williams.
“Okay. You sure you don’t want me to pick you up later?” Andi shook her head. “Alright, just no riding. Those are your nice clothes and we wouldn’t want you getting them dirty.” Andi nodded and waited until Mrs. Williams drove up the short dirt driveway to small private stable where Andi took lessons.
“We’re having beef tonight if you’d like to eat with us.” Mrs. Williams called out after Andi who was already quickly walking to the barns.
“Maybe.” Andi shrugged and kept walking her skirt rustling against her legs. Mrs. Williams drove off toward her house without Andi taking a second glance.
Since Glendale was privately owned no one was usually around the stables unless they were getting their horse ready for lessons or something. Andi loved going here and getting away on days she had a court session. The apartment was too claustrophobic for her now, she needed space. The pain her mother was going through, was hurting her as well. They both needed the space.
Andi walked into the barn where Scooter, a Camargue pony she rode for lessons, was kept. He whinnied at her arrival. “I can’t ride today. Another court session, more nice clothes I can’t get dirty.” Andi sighed and threw off her shoes skipping to his stall. He jumped back a little as Andi practically skidded to a stop at his box door. “How are you, Scooter?” She asked, which he only replied with his big dark eyes looking at her.
She looked around the stable, trying to find something she could give him. She found a spot of hay littering the aisle and handed it to the pony, which greedily gobbled it up. “You’re a good pony, Scooter.” He nickered, pushing his nose through the stall grille, hoping for more to eat. “I don’t have anymore.” Andi leaned against the wall and blew into his nose. Scooter threw his head back and neighed. Andi couldn’t help but laugh.
Scooter walked up to her and blew into her face. Andi closed her eyes letting the heat from the evening and Scooter’s loving gesture calm her down. “Today has been a rough day. Mrs. Williams is very nice, but she’s not my mother.” Scooter just kept looking at her with his soft dark eyes, which were quite visible against his white, flea-bitten coat.
“He understands.” An old raspy voice called from behind her. Andi quickly turned around to find Jimmy, the old stable hand. He was the owner of Glendale, Mr. Harper’s, father. He didn’t do much of any work, but he loved the ponies and stuck around for them.
“I know. I’m going to miss him.” Andi sighed, looking at him one last time before getting up from the wall.
“He’s going to miss you, too. You can always come and visit.” Jimmy filled the water bucket he was carrying and started for the exit. “He’ll be here for awhile. Just don’t go and get yourself too attached.” Jimmy smiled, his infamous half-smile and walked off. Andi looked at Scooter who was starting to doze off in his box so she decided to go help Jimmy to pass the time until she had to go home.
It was around eight by the time Andi was slipping her shoes back on and latching the front gate. She smelled the evening air and started down the driveway. It was quite a long walk home, but Andi was in no hurry to return to the lonely apartment she called home.
She started down the tarmac and onto the brick laid street. Cars passed and she watched them as she kicked side rocks on her way. She had to jump out of a couple cars’ paths as they hit puddles, sending water everywhere. A couple people said hello from their small shops and honked from their cars, but other than that Andi tried to avoid the main streets. Like usual in England, it started raining.
Andi finally got home with her feet soaking in mud and her body aching from the long walk. She took off her shoes and threw them in the hallway and opened the door. It was rather quiet until Andi made it into the main hallway when she came upon her mother sleeping on the couch.
She tried to make as little noise as possible, but her mother jolted up and let out a little gasp of surprise. "I'm going next door for a bit. I'll be home before bed time." Andi instructed her mother. Mrs. Carnegie just nodded and fell back asleep.
Andi slid out the heavy door and into the next one where old Mr. Spotnik lived. He always loved company and so did Andi so she usually spent most nights in the old man's apartment.
“Mr. Spotnik, it’s me, Andrea.” Andi stated before entering the room. Mr. Spotnik was a very old man, blind in one eye and partially deaf.
“Heh?! Oh, darling. Come in, come in.”
She leaned over towards Mr. Spotnik, sitting down in his favorite chair, hugging him. “You smell like the barn. You been seeing Scotch again?”
“Scooter, it’s Scooter. Yeah I went and visited him again. I’m leaving next week.” Andi said, seeming like the millionth time, but she enjoyed Mr. Spotnik’s company.
“Where ye’ going?”
“Away. Far away.” Andi hugged Mr. Spotnik again, “I’m going far, far away.”
* * *
The next morning Andi woke up early. It was Saturday, which meant she had the day to herself without any court hearings or papers to sign. Andi got dressed, made her bed, put her hair in a ponytail, and started downstairs. On a small table in the hallway was a list of more chores for Andi to do before she went off to Glendale. "Sweep the floors, wash the dishes, feed the dogs, dust, and start the laundry. Hmmm," Andi sighed in disgust.
Andi turned around and got a broom out of the closet across the hall and started her chores. They weren't very tiring, but they definitely were time consuming.
While she was coming from the basement with a dry load of laundry, a young lady and her two-year-old daughter were passing.
This was Mrs. Jillian Balling and her daughter Quincy. She lived with her husband Tom in apartment 12, but he was working at school most of the time and was rarely home. "Hello, Andi. What are you up to today?" She asked. Andi wasn't really in the mood or had time to stay and chat, but she thought she'd ought to be nice.
"I'm probably going to go into town for the day. There's not much to do here and I'd rather not stick around."
"Sounds good to me, I wish I could, but Quincy has gotten sick and can't go anywhere. I wish I were still young." Jillian laughed and kept walking, Quincy at her heels sniffing. Andi continued down the hall and threw the clean laundry in a bigger tub and set it in her mother's room without waking her.
She grabbed her riding boots and helmet and headed for the sidewalk. She opened the side door and took out her bike, pushing it down a narrow sidewalk to the street, and peddled on her way.
By the time she got to Glendale, the horses were already fed and watered. Now she'd only have to wait a half hour before she could ride. Jimmy held that rule with the riders so the horses wouldn't get so worked up and possibly get sick.
A couple riders walked from the old Mason barn to the newly renovated Wallow barn. "The early lesson…" Andi mumbled under her breath.
She always hated to ride around the early lesson riders because they were the girls that loved riding the most and were the most dedicated. This wouldn't bug her, but she always felt lazy that she got up later than them and not good enough when Jon, the instructor critiqued her in front of them. She looked at her watch. 8:15, the class would start in another fifteen minutes.
A neigh came from a close pasture, Andi looked to find Pancake. He was a little gelding pony that all the beginners start out with. "Why hello, sorry I don't have anything." Pancake looked at her, breathed in deep and trotted away, off to find something else to eat. He was an interesting pony.
"If it isn't Andi Carnegie." A snotty voice came from the Wallow barn doors. "You don't have lessons today, so what are you doing here?" It was Emma Larson. She wasn't one of the early dedicated riders, she was just a boarder that came around whenever classes where.
"I came to ride Scooter. I'm leaving in a week and Jon said I could ride."
"I came to ride Scooter." She answered in a mocking tone. "Why are you still riding that stupid pony? I moved up from him years ago. Oh well, some people just never grow up." She turned on her expensive heels trolling down an aisle of stalls. Andi sighed and went into the Mason barn. At the sound of her boots shuffling against the dirt, horses started shifting in their stalls.
It was dark and a little wet. The doors creaked and a smooth breeze often came through the cracks in the stalls. But it was Andi's favorite place to be. She loved old barns, especially old barns that housed ponies named Scooter, but he wasn't in his stall. Andi looked in the other ones and through a Dutch door window to his pasture, but he wasn't there either.
Andi ran to the Mason barn where the indoor arena was and there was Scooter trotting along, mane flapping. "Jon, why is Scooter being ridden?" She asked nonchalantly. Jon turned his attention to Andi.
"Oh, I didn't know you were coming today. After Jimmy closed up yesterday Rocky, Kimmie's horse fell in the pasture and sprained his leg. I'm sorry, Scooter was just the closet one to Rocky." Jon shrugged it away like no problem.
Andi just stood there and watched Scooter for a minute before going up to the hayloft to watch from above. "You were always such a good pony." She smiled to herself remembering when she had first ridden Scooter; it had been a year ago. Jon had tried to move her to other ponies and even his schooling horse, but Andi always wanted to ride Scooter.
Andi liked Kimmie so she decided it was okay that she was riding Scooter. She didn’t really have any other choice. Next week Andi was leaving and she wouldn't get a chance to ride Scooter before she left, because Rocky's recovery time would take a least a couple weeks. Soon watching Scooter turned into pulling hay and straw from her hair and Andi was getting frustrated, climbing down from the loft.
Jimmy was all done with chores so Andi dawdled through the aisle of stalls through to the pastures until she came back upon Emma and she turned right around.
Kimmie was untacking Scooter in the cross ties when she turned to Andi. "You can do the rest if you'd like. Jon said to walk him around a bit, before you put him out." Kimmie smiled and went to the tack room across the yard.
Andi looked at the pony who was munching on a horse treat, not really paying attention. She patted his white neck, which was wet with sweat. "She worked you too hard. I wouldn't have done that."
Even though Andi worked Scooter as hard as he should be, she didn't like to think Scooter would enjoy any other rider except her. Scooter shook his head and looked at Andi, nickering as if to say, "Brush me!" Andi laughed and kissed his muzzle.
Andi didn't really have any friends at school or the barn, since she usually kept to herself. She went to school, went home, did chores, and went to Glendale without really talking to anyone. She would answer if anyone talked to her, but she just didn't open up much. Not that she didn't trust people since her parent’s divorce a couple years ago, but she just didn't find small talk inviting.
The next couple days were spent mostly at the barn, not really on her homework, spending as much time as she could with Scooter. Since Kimmie was riding him during early lessons, Andi didn't get much time with him and usually spent lessons helping Jimmy with chores or tidying up the barn.
It was Wednesday, three days before she would leave for her new home and Mrs. Williams stopped by Glendale to check up on Andi. "This must be Scooter. Mr. Spotnik told me. He's told me a lot." She smiled. Whenever Andi wasn't at the barn she was spending it with old Mr. Spotnik. She found his stories more interesting than some preteen gossip, plus he used to own a white pony. His name was Barney. He was just a lead pony for Thoroughbreds, but Mr. Spotnik loved him.
Andi was leading Scooter back to the old barn, which was now reserved for Jon's own ponies, to eat dinner. "Yep, this is Scooter." That was all Andi could mutter. Even as a second mom to Andi, Mrs. Williams didn't seem like someone to talk to either. Andi didn't want to, but she blamed her for making her move so far away from Scooter and Glendale. It wasn't Glendale she would miss as much as it was being at a horse barn.
"There will be plenty of riding where you're going to live with magnificent horse barns." Mrs. Williams said with a smile.
"No Scooter, though." Andi replied.
"Well, no, but other white ponies."
"No Scooter, though." Andi was now taking off Scooter's halter letting him eat from his grain bucket. She wanted to leave this place behind so badly, but Scooter was holding her back.
"Well I have to speak with Jon Harper for a bit, do you know where I could find him?"
Andi looked at the indoor arena. "Past the first aisle of horse boxes, in his office. There weren't any lessons today so he's probably doing filing work." Andi closed Scooter's box door and listened to him munch on his grain.
He paused for a bit and looked at her, whinnying after her like she was going to leave him that instant. Mrs. Williams jumped at the loud noise and hurried off to where Andi told her the office would be.
"I'm right here, Scooter. Hurry and eat because I won't be here forever." Andi smiled at the little pony that taught her to ride. Her mother always used to love Scooter, riding him a couple times herself. Her father on the other hand, didn't like ponies and horses, thinking Andi should grow up. Andi closed her eyes and leaned on the door. Scooter blew in her hair, the sugary smell of maple and sweet hay engulfed her, for the last time.
* * *
Saturday morning came all too early. Andi sat in the car on the way back from Glendale's. Jon and the other riders threw a little party for her, dressing Scooter up in clown's garb.
A couple of her suitcases fumbled around in the trunk, the rest of her belongings would be delivered later that week after she was settled in.
"You know I'll never be settled in. I want to live with my family." Andi grouchily protested, but Mrs. Williams wasn't really listening.
"You'll love it," She answered nonchalantly.
Andi tried to count how many times she had said that, but she had lost count. Instead she looked out the window at the passing trees on the highway. How boring, She thought to herself. This is never going to end. Before she knew it, she had dozed off and the only thing she could do know was hope Mrs. Williams was right and that no Emma Larsons lived with the family.
Andi's heavy, bright blue eyes finally closed into thoughts of Scooter and how long Kimmie would ride him. Just please Scooter, remember me.