By Alexzandra Noble
Sitting in the school bus, I stare out the window, watching the fields, occasional stores, and houses go by. I am oblivious to the laughter and talk of the other students around me: Tommorow is the first race of my life. I can hardly hear my neighbor, Ben, shouting at me. Now he pulls my hair, and I am snapped back to life. I glare at him, and I say through gritted teeth, “What.”
He sits back as the bus driver scolds him, and stares down at the floor. “Good luck with your race tomorrow.” I can’t help softening my expression, and I say “Thanks. You coming to watch?”
He shakes his head. “I have baseball tomorrow. Sorry.” I shrug. Ben has been a “friend” since fifth grade, and a neighbor since third. I would have made friends with him sooner, but he has never been real nice. Always throwing eggs at me during lunch in elementary school, he was the school bully. After getting suspended, he shaped up a
Bit, but still wasn’t cured. I seize my backpack as the bus comes to a slow, noisy halt. I am the first one off, and Ben bolts down his driveway. I run to my driveway, and see that mom has just come home. She is carrying a large, odd shaped box, and I help her by grabbing a bag of groceries.
“How was school?” She asks me as we put away groceries.
“Good,” I say, putting away a box of macaroni. My mom turns to the odd box, and pulls out a brand-new racing saddle, with a beautiful bridle. She puts the saddle in my arms, and I am over whelmed with the beauty and lightness of the saddle: It was for the race tomorrow. Now, she lays a jockey suit on the table.
“It’s for tomorrow,” She said, “But, you’ll need to put up your hair.” As a girl, no one knows but my mom that I am to be the jockey on Prince, my Thouroughbred gelding, so secrecy is important. I take my gifts to my room, and see the answering machine flashing, meaning there is a message for me. I push the play button, and hear a male voice, crackling and fading in and out, as he was using a cell phone.
“Shane,” Came the voice, using my name, “This is your dad.” At “dad” I freeze. Dad. My father had been traveling for work most of my life, then, just recently, he enlisted for the army. The message continues.
“I want to wish you luck for your race tomorrow,” So, he called today. “I heard someone special was coming, and wanted to wish you luck before I went to bed. Goodbye, sweetheart.” He hung up. Now, I am suddenly more determined than ever to win the race, for dad. I pick up the saddle and suit that I just set on my bed, and head out to the barn. Prince, short for Prince Edward, my horse, whinnies at first sight.
He was bought by my dad as a colt for ten thousand dollars, being good racing
Prospect. My father began training him, but then work came up, so mom and I trained him from then on. I bring him out and tack him up, and we ride out to the track. I ride him into the small gate, and, pulling a lever, the gate flings open. He is off, like a streak of black lightning, mane and tail flying. We are flying, and if gravity didn’t exist, we would be to the moon by now.
His speed is astounding, and soon, the run is over. I would have run him again, but not wishing to exert him, I brush him, bathe him and put him away.
The next morning, mom and I are sitting in the cab of the truck, with Prince pawing in the trailer. Half an hour later, we arrive at the state race track. We get registered, and I go to see Prince in his stall, pawing at the tile floor. I pause, looking at my beautiful partner. I quickly dress, and make sure my hair is bundled up under my helmet. We get ponied into the gate, and the other horses paw with anticipation.
The bell rings, and in a flash we are flying. The other horses are invisible; I hardly notice one pulling ahead of us. A distressed whinny escaped from Prince, and I snap back. Now that he knows I am paying attention, he picks up speed. Soon, the last stretch is before us: Three horses are fighting for first, and Prince and I are neck and neck with them.
Fifty feet ahead is the finish line. Prince is as determined as I am. Suddenly, I feel wisps of my shoulder-length blonde hair slip out from under my helmet. I don’t care if they know, I say to myself, I started racing, and nothing can stop me. The loudspeaker blazones out “Prince Edward is taking the lead! And -- what?! A long-haired jockey! A female jockey!!” The cheering in the croud quiets, then grows louder than ever as we rush past the finish line. I realize we left the other horses behind by
Inches, and we won!
I unbuckle my helmet, and shake out my hair. Mom and another few people come running down the grandstands. Mom and another man walk towards me, and the man looks up.
“Shane,” Says mom, “This is Jim, your Father.” I now notice he is wearing a military uniform, and he is limping on a cane. I smile, and I am gone to the winners’ circle.
The next day, I am sitting in the barn with my parents. It turns out that my father hurt his ankle in combat, and now he is no longer required to fight. I still am over joyed by our win, and now I know what I will do the rest of my life. Prince has a lovely trophy sitting on a shelf by his stall now, and my family is living off the reward from the race. From now on, there is one word to sum up the feel of racing: Freedom.