@Roadyy I was hoping you would find this! Aw, thank your daughters for me, they sound awesome :)
“I think she’s coming to. She’ll have a lot of questions; hopefully she’ll have a lot of answers too. Try to keep her still when she wakes up.” I heard footsteps, and then felt just the knowledgeable presence of one person. I shifted over, trying to open my eyes. With dizziness and a cloudy head, I managed to get my eyes working. Glancing around the room, I noticed a lot of doctoral things. A few beds, clean white sheets, scrubbed walls and tile flooring. The sight was oddly relieving at first. But then, realizing my situation, it just got frightening. I tried to sit up, my mind suddenly clear as a bell. The small woman next to me placed her hand on my chest, gently pushing me back down onto the bed. “No dear, you must stay still for now. You are still very likely to pass out again. You’ve been quite sick,” her voice was kind, sweet, gentle. Her blonde hair bounced up into messy curls, complimenting her deep blue eyes. She was a beautiful woman, both inside and out, you could tell. Her petite stature made her even more likable. While I wanted to comply, I had bigger things in mind. “Where is my horse? Where is Donner?”
The woman smiled, “We have him, dear. He’s out in a private pasture, untacked and happily munching on some grass. We knew he had to be yours, given he had your ID and stuff packed on him … well, and the fact that he never left your side.” I was overcome with relief, so glad to hear that my boy was okay. I let my head fall back on the pillow. Just before I drifted off, I managed to ask her “where are we?” With my eyes closed and my mind already half asleep, I could have sworn I heard her say the words I’ve been waiting for, for the past month. “You are at The Boys and Girls Haven, Cassandra. You are safe now.” I thought I had made myself ask her to call me Cassie, but I was off into sleep before I could hear her reply.
When I woke again, I was feeling much better. I was able to sit up comfortably, and survey the room. Emblems danced across the room everywhere, reminding me of where I was. I smiled at each little tag, so happy to have finally made it here. I wasn’t sure how they found me or how they got me here, but for now what I knew was more than enough to keep me going. Donner and I were safe. I let out a relieved sigh.
Suddenly, I heard the clicking of a door. I whipped my head around to the entrance, though moving my head so quickly reminded me that I wasn’t 100% well just yet. This wasn’t the kind, bubbly lady I had seen before. This woman was taller, thinner, and overall a bit off-putting. Her brown hair stopped sharply just under her chin, not a strand out of place. Her thin black glasses set in the center of her nose, outlining the small wrinkles that danced across her thin face. When she fetched my eye-contact, she gave a brief smile, but after that it was all seriousness. I scooted back uncomfortably in the bed.
“Hello Cassandra, how are you feeling?” There was a stool next to the bed which she took a seat on, folding her hands in her lap. I nodded carefully, “I’m doing okay. The other woman told me I was at the Haven … How did I get here?” She gave a tight nod, “Well, honestly it wasn’t exactly a good situation. You see, one of our horses is a master at unlatching the gates, and one of the students forgot to fix the bolt correctly. He got loose, and we thought your gelding was him. We came up on him, and found the lot of you sitting there, clearly not doing well.” The woman tried out a wayward smile, and offered her name, “I am Ms. Tamira. The other woman you met earlier is Ms. Vickie. I am the secretary, she is the owner. I also deal with admissions here.” The tone in the last sentence changed quite a bit, which caused a bit of worry. Surely I didn’t come all this way for me not to be admitted … what was my other option? She seemed to be waiting for a reply of some sort, so I offered what I could, “I see … well, thank you for bringing me back. I’ve actually been traveling in this direction for quite some time.”
Ms. Tamira squinted her eyes, and asked “what do you mean?” I began my story, telling her of how I had run off with my horse, and researched this place and chosen it as my destination. She nodded along with the story, but her stoic expression didn’t give me any clues as to what she thought of the idea. When I finished, she nodded slowly before she continued. “Well, that is certainly a very inspiring story. You see, we only have a certain amount of rooms and spots open for our guests. While we do have one or two openings, we are usually paid by some sort of organization for taking these foster kids, and giving them this Haven before being sent to a foster home. With you, you have nobody to fund your stay. We would have to take care of you and your horse with spare change, and there isn’t a lot of that going around here, Cassandra.” I bowed my head, not thinking of this before. I didn’t have any money to give the facility, but I did have work ethic. “What if I paid my own way? You know, I could clean up in the barn, brush the horses, feed … I could be your own personal stable hand.” Unfortunately, Ms. Tamira shook her head. “Each kid here is allocated a horse, and they are responsible for those horses. We have no stable hand type system. You would be taking care of your own horse, if you were allowed to stay, but that is all.” I frowned. It seemed like there was no way around this. “I mean … I know it is a lot to ask, but could I just stay until I found another alternative? I hadn’t thought that far, to be honest … I was hoping to find a safe place here.” I hated pulling on people’s guilt strings, for they never took it well. But frankly, I was well out of options.
The secretary sighed, “Well, you can’t be released until you are complete with a clean bill of health. I suppose we can keep you here in the infirmary overnight tonight. Vickie and I will discuss what will come after that.” Her tone was curt, but I nodded politely anyways. I smiled externally, but inside I was crushed. I could only hope that Ms. Vickie would be able to provide some sympathy for the torn runaway. “Ms. Tamira … would it be alright if I saw my horse? Just for a moment?” I knew it was a lot to ask, and I was pushing my luck. Thankfully, she allowed it, but only if she tagged along. Of course, I was fine with that.
We got to the barn, which I was immediately impressed by. Everything was state of the art, with beautiful wooden stalls with gorgeous wrought iron bars. The horses were out in the field at the moment, but the stalls were apparently well kempt. Each stall bore the name of the horse in a brass plate, with a smaller plate below that that held a white-board. On the white board were the names of the children that were taking care of said horse. The temporary appearance of the boards was a bit startling. The Haven probably got a much quicker rotation of kids than I had anticipated. It made me feel a bit uneasy, to be honest.
Once we got past the barn, the pastures came in sight. The fences were just as immaculate, with plastic three board fencing all around. The pastures were split in threes, probably for pasture rotation purposes. To the left of the pastures was a large round pen, where Tamira was leading me. I figured this is where I could find my Donner. The fencing was all wood, and stacked about six or seven feet tall. We eventually got to the door, though, and Tamira allowed me through. Donner was there, munching grass in the center. He lifted his head immediately upon my appearance, and to my delight came trotting towards me. I felt Tamira reach out for my shoulder, but she released when Donner reached me calmly, pressing his nose gently into the crook of my arm, as he typically did. He was such a sweetheart. Tamira seemed almost shocked by this display of affection, but at this point I paid no mind to what she was doing. I loved all over my dear horse, noticing that he hadn’t appeared to look any different from when I last saw him – except for the fact that he was spotless. When I asked who brushed him, Tamira responded with the owner’s name. “Vickie has a soft spot for the horses. The equine program was her idea, and she just loved your boy. We used un-opened brushed, and the buckets in this pen are new as well. That way, we reduce the chance of infection between your horse and ours.”
I was very, very thankful for their system, and told Tamira of this. After a good long time with my boy, I was beginning to feel lightheaded again. Tamira led me back into my bed, where I told her his feeding instructions (she asked for them) and told her where she could find the servings of grain I had left in my stuff. She agreed to mention this to Vickie, and then went on her way. It wasn’t long before I was asleep again, complete with a smile. I hoped that Vickie would be kind to me and Donner – I was really starting to like it here.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx