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Running Away on Hooves, Heart, and Hope

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        07-20-2014, 02:02 AM
      #21
    Yearling
    Chapter 7

    It was hard to know the time of day in the infirmary. Though there were windows, they were covered with while drapes, which did a good job of blocking the sun. There were several beds, each with a nightstand that held a dim light. It appeared that they never turned off the light of an occupied bed, for mine was always on. Other than these bed-side lights, there were also overhead lights that were hardly ever on. There was an office in the corner, though, that shone brightly in the otherwise dimly lit room. Assuming it was daytime as there was some light pleading through the window curtains, I sat up and looked towards the office, assuming there might be someone there. There wasn’t.

    Alongside my bed was a small button, labeled “NURSE.” I figured they must have gotten the equipment from a hospital. I pressed the button. For a while, nothing happened and I wondered if the buzzer was connected to the vacant office. Ready to roll over and go back to sleep, the door finally popped open. The bubbly woman I now knew as Vickie came in, to my relief. She had opened the door with great concern, but her face softened when she saw me sitting up contently. She closed the door softly behind her, and made her way to my bed. “How are you feeling, dear? Ms. Tamira told me that you guys took an adventure to see your boy. Was his care to your standards?” She had sat on the edge of the bed gingerly, and spoken with a genuine, caring voice. I nodded with a smile, “Yes ma’am, I’m very pleased that we found – er, that you found us.” Ms. Vickie’s face changed again … sympathy? Or was that guilt? “Yes, Ms. Tamira told me of your story. It’s very touching, dear. I’m sorry you felt compelled to run. Don’t you miss your family, though?” I began to answer her, telling her that I did miss them, though knew I was better off here. Mid-sentence, I remembered something that startled me, in the worst ways. “Oh my gosh … Ms. Vickie, how long have I been here?!” I said with clear worry. “Um, four days honey. You’ve been asleep most of the time, recovering.”

    My heart sunk. Xavier.

    “I need my phone right now please, where is my stuff? I’ll tell you where it is I just …. Really need it.” My eyes wide and my hands shaking, I figured Ms. Vickie saw my urgency. She sat for a moment, questioning my motive, before finally rising. “I know where it is. I will get it for you, but I demand an answer after you call who it is you wish to contact.” I nodded swiftly, begging for the device. He had to be worried sick. He could have called search parties, extensive ones. He could be freaking out right now, and it was my fault. “****it Cassandra!” I smacked my thighs, cursing my stupidity. Finally, Vickie returned. “No language, young lady,” she noted as she handed me my Nokia. I quickly dialed the number. Not two rings – one. “Cassandra? Oh god, Cas, please let it be you.”

    My heart dropped even further, and tears ran to my eyes. The sound of his voice was torn, and it broke my heart. “I love you Xavier,” fell out of my mouth like a brick, so grateful for my best friend’s loyalty. “I love you, Cas, but are you okay?! Please, are you in a hospital? Where can I visit? What room? I’ll get my keys, I’ll be there in a second.” I was laughing now, “Xavier, put your keys down, I’m fine. I made it, Xavi, I’m here! They put me in a nice room to recover from a little … uh, dehydration. But everything is okay. I made it! And Donner is good too, everyone is good.” A heavy sigh from the other end, but a relieved kind, “I’m so happy to hear that, Cas, really. But please, don’t ever go that long without telling me what was going on. I thought you were dead in a ditch. I was about to go searching the entire state for you. Now, since you’ve made it to your destination, would you tell me where that is?” I felt bad, not telling Xavier where I was, but I couldn’t. Nobody could know. “Sorry buddy,” was the only rejection I could muster. A small chuckle, “alright, I understand. Thank you for being alive.” I smiled again, and we held a moment of silence. I had to break it, “well, I have to go. I have some explaining to do to my caretaker – I kind of demanded for my phone.” We both laughed a bit, including Vickie, who was sitting in a chair nearby. “Alright, Cas. Call me when you can. Don’t get dead.” “Okay Xavi, promise.”

    I was about to hang up, when Xav stopped me, “Wait, Cas, before you go … did you mean that? You know …” I smiled wide, unable to contain it. “Goodbye, Xavi.” A quiet second, before a content “Goodbye, Cas.” I finally hung up my phone, laying it on the bedside table. My gaze landed on Ms. Vickie, whom held an interested smile. “Boyfriend?” I shook my head, “Best friend.” She gave a long nod, obviously doubting me. I let it slide, “I called him every night while I was on the run, so that somebody knew if I was alive or not,” I explained to her. She nodded again, more assuredly. “That’s smart, very smart. Tamira told me why you ran off, and I can understand. But honey, I’m not really sure how I can manage keeping you here."

    My moment of happiness ended abruptly. Her words were full of sorrow, and she looked genuinely upset about it. “It’s just … Tamira is looking at it from a budget stance, and it is true that we can’t feed unpaid mouths.” I turned away from Vickie, I had to. I was fearful of breaking out in tears. I didn’t want to stay on the run, forcing Donner through that pain. Vickie seemed to notice this, and continued, “But … maybe we can make an exception. Just until you have a permanent plan. I’ll beg Tamira, though she has the final say. I’ll do everything I can, though, okay?” I turned back towards her, finding that she was now up and making her way toward me. I gave her a small smile, “I would really appreciate that.” She smiled back, patting my shoulder softly. “You are doing much better, you know. Would you like to change into some clean clothes and come into the common area? You can meet the other kids then, and even join us for dinner if you are feeling up to it. We’ve informed you that you’re here, and they’d like to meet you.” My eyes brightened, and I nodded quickly. It wasn’t the meetings that I was looking forward to, per say. But the normalcy of it was extremely inviting. Vickie laughed, leaving to fetch my clothes. She returned with my jean shorts and comfortable t-shirt, folded neatly. “We washed all of your items upon your arrival. Everything should feel nice and cozy.” I thanked her, and she left me to change.

    I stood cautiously, finding myself a bit dizzy at first, but quickly regaining my stance. After putting on my more normal-looking clothing, I ran a hand over my head. My hair was short, still buzzed, but coming in. I felt my cheeks redden, and I suddenly felt very awkward. The other kids probably wouldn’t think of me as the most gorgeous thing, but I guess it was alright considering it got me here. Vickie came back in a moment earlier, ready to take me to the common area. With a deep breathe, I nodded nervously, and followed her out the door.

    The infirmary was actually a separate building from the common house, nestled between that and the barn, set a bit behind both. The path to the house was nicely maintained, and the door to the common house was a welcoming sort. You entered into a mud-room, complete with small lockers for coats, shoes, and bags. Each locker had the same white-board nameplate system I saw in the barn. I was asked to remove my shoes and put them aside in an empty locker (there were only two empty spots of the seven possible). Some of the names included “Miranda, Chelsea, Lilith” on one side, “Dean, Adam” on the other. I placed my shoes under the apparently female side. Vickie then lead me through another door, this time leading out into a large foyer. The house wasn’t very grand per say, though it was quite spacious. It had many rustic touches, showing it’s farmhouse history. To the right, I was led into an even larger living room, complete with several couches, fireplace, and two giant book-cases. A television sat above the mantel, though it was off. The décor isn’t what caught my attention, though; it was the five pairs of eyes all looking my way.

    Each person held a smile, some more real than others. They stood upon my arrival, showing their vast differences in height and appearance. Of the girls, two seemed to stand close to each-other, and held a judgmental glance as they checked me up and down. I instantly felt a little bitterness coming from them, and glanced around to the guys. The third girl was over by the two boys, looking much more kind. Both guys seemed just as kind, instantly smiling and giving a wave. I returned the welcome, and Vickie introduced us. “Everyone, this is Cassandra, but she prefers to be called Cassie (yup, she must have heard me on the first day). Cassie, this is Dean and Adam,” she said, referring to the guys. They each nodded again at the sound of their names. Adam was shorter than Dean, with mid-length blonde hair and deep brown eyes, almost to the point of them being black. He dressed in a dark tee and skinny jeans, giving him a very “punk-rock” vibe. Dean, on the other hand, had short, dark brown hair, spiked at the top. His clothing was more modest, with looser jeans and a less fitted, green tee. His eyes struck me, though – the deepest, most amazing green color, like no color I’ve seen. It was hard to look away. His smile was generous, kind.

    “And behind the guys,” Vickie continued, “is Miranda.” I broke my stare, looking over to Miranda. She was very pretty, with a bright smile. She gave a quick wave, which I returned. We laughed a bit at our playful waving. Vickie smiled as well, “looks like you two should get along nicely!” I was then introduced to Chelsea and Lilith, Lilith standing in front of Chelsea. Chelsea had brown hair with white highlights, pulled back into a messy bun. Lilith had mousy blonde hair that lay perfectly straight, draping over her shoulder. The girls were clearly close, and also didn’t appear to think much of me. They smiled in a sny way when introduced, batting their eyelashes in an almost intimidating way. I had dealt with people like this before at school, so I paid no mind to them.

    Vickie clapped her hands softly together, “well, I’ll let you make your own acquaintances! Dinner will be served at normal time, 7:00 PM. After that, you can all do your barn chores.” She turned to me, now, “you will simply take care of your boy, as long as you feel well enough to do it. We will show you how we typically do things around here. If you ever feel a little dizzy or otherwise ill, just let me or Tamira know.” With that, she exited the living room, leaving me in front of the congregation of my peers. “This should be interesting …” I thought to myself. This was definitely going to be harder than I had expected.
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        07-20-2014, 09:42 PM
      #22
    Foal
    Love love love love IT!!! More please!
         
        07-22-2014, 03:06 PM
      #23
    Yearling
    Chapter 8

    Miranda was the first to greet me, walking right up to say hello. “Hi, so your name is Cassie? That’s really cool. So you have your very own horse?” She talked quickly, but not in an annoying way. She seemed genuinely interested in meeting me, and I was glad to have someone to help me pop out of my shell. I smiled and nodded, “Yeah! His name is Donner. We did Show Jumping competitions, he’s my baby.” Miranda opened her eyes wider with awe, “Jumping! That must be amazing! See, we have assigned horses here, so we sort of temporarily have our own horse. I really love having my girl. Her name is Kat, you can meet her when you do barn chores with us.” I nodded quickly, starting to match Miranda’s energy. “Sweet, I would love that! Hey, mind me asking how old you are?” I was really curious. She looked older than me, to be honest. “Oh, I’m sixteen, but everyone tells me I look older.” She chuckled, as did I. “I was honestly just about to ask if you were a counselor or something! That’s cool though, I’m sixteen too.” Her eyes lit up, and she was about to reply with something when one of the guys stepped in. “Miranda, quit hogging the new girl, we want to meet her too!”

    It was Adam that walked between Miranda and I, bearing a teasing grin. He offered his hand, which I shook. “Ms. Vick kind of stole my thunder, but I’m Adam. It’s good to meet you.” I nodded in agreement. For some reason, I didn’t feel as comfortable around Adam as I did around Miranda. Perhaps it was because I had only just been introduced, but I had a weird feeling. I shook it off, asking him his age and what sort of music he liked. He was seventeen, a year older than I, and enjoyed (can you guess?) punk-rock. I attempted at a conversation, as I did listen to a little punk-rock, though mainly enjoyed Country music. We carried on for a bit, before we began speaking about the other people. Miranda and Dean were chatting amongst themselves, with Chelsea and Lilith doing the same on the opposite side of the room. “I would watch out for the Blonde Brigade. They’re like snakes,” he warned, keeping his voice quiet. “Miranda is a bit of an earful, but she’s not evil. Dean is kind of aloof; don’t be offended if he doesn’t seem to want to be your bestie right off the bat.” I nodded along, thankful for the information. “And you? What are you like?” I asked teasingly, in a friendly way. “Well, I’m pretty amazing. So we’re cool.” I laughed, as did he. “Come on, I’ll walk to the snake-pit with you. You won’t mind the company, trust me.” I believed him, from what I’ve seen.

    We walked over to the couch Lilith and Chelsea sat on. They didn’t bother to stand for us. “I see you’ve already obtained the gothic groupie,” Chelsea noted, glaring at Adam. “Well, I…” I was cut off by Lilith, “welcome to the island of misfit toys, Cassandra.” I attempted a smile, “you can call me Cassie.” With a hard stare from Lilith, I decided to keep my mouth shut. “Pleased to meet you, Cassandra. We can talk more at dinner,” Lilith nearly snapped at me. Without waiting for a reply, she returned to the conversation she was having with Chelsea. Adam turned away, and I followed him. “Told you,” he mumbled. I chuckled, and we walked back over to Miranda and Dean. “Saved the best for last,” Adam jeered at Dean, poking him playfully in the rib before handing me off to his friend. He took his turn sitting on the couch chatting with Miranda, while Dean and I stood at the edge.

    “Hello,” Dean started, “Have fun talking to Mr. Skinny-Jeans?” He snickered, followed by a, “I heard that!” from Adam. I returned the laugh, “yeah, he’s alright. Pants seem to be tight enough to restrict his movement though, poor thing.” Adam pointed at me as if getting me in trouble, though the smirk on his face told me he was only teasing. Dean laughed at the comment, and offered his hand. Another handshake, though his was more firm than Adam’s. “Cassie, huh? Interesting name; I like names that you can swap around and easily misspell.” Dean’s dorky, playful attitude didn’t seem to match Adam’s description … at all, though I was alright with it, as he was easy to get along with. We chatted for a bit, and I found out that Dean was also seventeen, though he was a few months older than I. He enjoyed the time he spent with the horses, though far preferred trail riding to arena riding. We agreed on sharing a trail ride, though it was a bitter promise for me – I had no idea when I would be allowed to stay, or when I’d be forced to go. I secretly hoped it would be a long enough stay to get to know Dean better. He was clearly more than a pretty face, and his eyes seemed to hold back things he wouldn’t tell.

    I stuck to Adam, Miranda, and Dean until Vickie called us in for dinner. The three of us talked about all sorts of things, and we became fast friends. When dinner rolled around, it held great resemblance to that of a Thanksgiving dinner. The table was full of food, with Tamira and Vickie sat at opposite ends of the round table. I sat between Dean and Miranda, with Adam between Dean and Vickie. On the other side of Miranda sat Vickie, and the Blonde Brigade sat together between the adults. Dinner wasn’t very eventful, though it was extremely delicious. I was told by the adults not to eat too much as it would make me sick, but I did love what I ate. The table manners of the house were incredible, and I matched their politeness. The BB (the shortened title of Blonde Brigade) spoke to the whole table as if they loved everyone, though the gang I had seemed to be absorbed by occasionally exchanged quick glances when obvious sarcastic kindness came into play.

    Dinner was amazing for sure, but I was pleased when it ended, for that meant it was time to take care of the horses! Vickie came out with me, showing me where everything was kept, and the schedule of which everything was done. She also told me the riding schedules. “Everyone has their own sort of thing,” she started. “Adam doesn’t ride much, but he does tons and tons of groundwork. He’s very in-sync with his horse, and has taught her a lot. When Adam does ride, it’s bareback. Dean rides the trails that we have surrounding the farm. I’ll explain those in a minute. Chelsea and Lilith both ride Western, and prefer barrels and poles. Miranda is our only English rider.” She paused, before adding “well, and you.”

    I smiled wide, happy to be acknowledged as part of the household. It wasn’t set in stone and I knew that, but I liked the sound of it. Vickie kept explaining, “There will be opportunities to ride on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are rest days for the horses. On the ride days, you will be allowed to ride after all chores are completed, inside of the house and out. If we have a community service day, that will obviously take up time as well. We are on summer break right now, so you don’t have to worry about school.” I nodded along, taking in everything she said. The rules made a lot of sense, and I definitely thought it was something I could follow. “As for the trails, you can speak to Dean about that. I know you guys spoke about taking an outing.” I held back a shy grin, though I felt the heat rush to my face. I couldn’t pinpoint why this embarrassed me, but I didn’t want to think about it just then. I simply nodded. “Alright, well go ahead and get Donner taken care of!”

    She left for the house, and I turned back into the round-pen that Donner was in. There wasn’t a stall to muck, but there was a small run-in shed for shelter. While I probably could have just cleaned that, I chose to go ahead and clear the whole round-pen of poo. Since it was a small space, I wanted to make it as nice as possible. “Hopefully they let you in one of the bigger pastures here soon, buddy. I know how much you like a good run. No worries, we can get back to riding tomorrow!” I chatted to my baby as I cleared the pen. Occasionally, he would walk over to me and ask for a good itch on his big blazed face. I would offer a hand, and he would go about his way when his itchies were fulfilled. Many people disagreed with me allowing him to scratch his face on my hand, but he was never pushy about it, so I didn’t mind it. He had a kind, non-dominant disposition.

    After I had finished with my barn chores, I spent a minute just enjoying my horse. I sat in the grass alongside him, occasionally moving as he grazed around. I rubbed on his back, gave him a good brushing, and just showed him that I loved him, and appreciated all he had done for me. “You’re momma’s boy, aren’t you? I don’t know what I would do without you, big guy.” I cooed to the gelding as I rubbed his ears. His eyes drooped, his head resting on my chest as I stood there. He loved having his ears rubbed.

    “You and him seem to really like each other!” The voice from behind startled me a bit, and woke Donner from his day-dreamy mindset. “Yeah, we’ve stuck it out for a while now,” came my response. The voice had come from Dean, who was standing at the entrance gate to the pen. “You can come in, if you like. He loves to meet people,” I invited. Dean took the invite, unlatching and entering the pen. After closing the gate behind him, he made his way over to Donner and I, who still stood just in front of me. With ears perked and eyes sparkling, Donner blew big breaths into Dean’s open hands. Donner then lifted his head up to the boy’s head, and continued breathing into his hair. Dean and I chuckled. “He likes you, too!” I announced, happy to see my horse enjoying the company of this person. Dean reached up to stroke Donner’s wide blaze, “he’s mighty gorgeous, Cassie. Rides good too, I bet.” He noted, ruffling Donner’s forelock. I nodded, “yup, one of the best jumpers in his barn.” Dean nodded, patting Donner’s neck before turning to me. “How is he on the trail?”

    I smiled, happy to think of finally getting out and riding again. “Well, he did carry me all the way here,” I joked. The comment inspired a chuckle, “then I guess he better be pretty good! Well, it’s your lucky day then. Tomorrow is Thursday; it’s the best day for trail riding. I’ll sign us up for a nice trail that goes out to a lake. Ever swam with him? It’s great fun. Indy, the mare I ride, loves it.” I nodded enthusiastically, “we went swimming once with some friends of mine, he did really well! I would love to give it another go.” It was Dean’s turn to grin, “Perfect! Well, wear a swimsuit under your riding clothes tomorrow. Miranda might have a spare if you don’t have one. I’ve invited Adam and Miranda as well, if that’s alright?” I nodded, “that sounds great!” We confirmed the outing, and chatted for just a second about his horse, Indy. She was a big paint mare that I recalled seeing in the barn before when I walked through. She wasn’t out to win any races, but she was a sweet girl as Dean described her. I was excited to meet all of the horses, and learn them better. I was also pleased to see that Dean seemed happy to call me his friend, for he seemed very likable. Miranda and Adam seemed friendly too, and I couldn’t wait to meet them better tomorrow.

    Soon enough, we were called back into the house from the barn. I met up with Miranda once we were back in. “Hey, Dean just invited me out on the trail tomorrow, and said you might have an extra swimsuit. Do you think I could borrow one?” I asked. She smiled wide, nodding quickly. “Do I! I love swimming, so I have about five or ten pairs. You can have your pick! Let me just tell someone I’m taking you up to my room for a second, and we can check it out.” I nodded, and waited for her to return. Once she did, she bounded up the stairs. I followed closely, while trying to admire the photos on the wall. “Previous kids,” Miranda explained. “Everyone that’s ever been here goes on the stairs. It’s pretty cool, I think.” She sounded a bit embarrassed at her liking of the photos, but I couldn’t help but to agree. There had been a lot of kids cycle through the walls of this house, that’s for sure.

    We passed a couple closed doors before finally finding her room. Each door had another whiteboard with the names of the kids, in different colors and fun designs. I noticed that there were only four doors, and that Dean and Adam; and Chelsea and Lilith shared their whiteboards. Many other doors were blank. “Why don’t Adam and Lilith take a room of their own?” I asked Miranda, who had a room to herself. “They like sharing their rooms. It’s kind of nice, having a roommate. I had one, but she got deported,” she must have noted my quizzical look, “deported is what we say when someone gets picked up by a foster parent,” she explained. I nodded, and Miranda unlocked the door to her room. Inside was very nice, and extremely spacious. The room had two beds, one on either side of the room, with a dresser in the middle acting as a nightstand for both beds. A light in the middle showcased some pictures of Miranda and a few other people. I assumed they were her previous friends. Her bed was complete with a fun bedspread, while the empty one lay empty of everything but some basic linen. The room wasn’t extremely colorful; neutral colors canvassed the space. Miranda had decorated the walls, though, with posters and pictures and paintings and anything else she could find.

    I gathered from her fun room that she was also a country music fan, which we excitedly fan-girled about for a while. Finally, I was led to the closet, which was connected to the bathroom that the room kept to its own. She pulled out the numerous bathing suits. She wasn’t kidding about having about ten of them, either. “Okay,” she explained, “so we have all sorts. Fringy, colorful, neutral, one pieces, two pieces, multi-colored … oh, you probably don’t want this one…” she grabbed a suit that appeared black, but I noticed a familiar symbol. I gasped, “OH MY GOSH YOU ARE A SUPERNATURAL FAN!?” I nearly yelled. Miranda’s eyes lit up like fireworks, and we both started jumping up and down, yelling crazy gibberish. I mean how could you not?! It was Supernatural!! Only the best television show!

    Naturally, we HAD to talk about Supernatural for probably 20 minutes. It was then settled that I just had to wear that particular bathing suit. She agreed to that, and picked out an equally adorable suit of color. After The Picking of the Suits, we sat on her bed for a long, long time, enjoying each other’s company and talking about things we enjoyed. Miranda turned out to be a lot like me. We easily could have been related, except for the difference in appearance. I told her about my stories from running off, and why my hair was so short (it was starting to grow out to look like a boy cut, now. My hair grew quickly). She spoke a bit about her previous friends and relationships, and we could have gone on all night had Tamira not come up for me. “It is time for bed. Cassandra, we will have you in the infirmary again tonight,” I was bummed, but nodded. I said goodnight to Miranda, and followed Tamira back to the infirmary.

    “I will get you for breakfast in the morning. Make sure you are up and dressed by 8 AM. I will give you your chores then, and afterwards you may take your ride. Goodnight.” She left without much conversation, though I smiled, nodded, and waved where it seemed appropriate. I dressed in my nightclothes and slipped into bed immediately, as it seemed like the smart thing to do considering we would be up early. Just before heading to bed, I grabbed my phone off the nightstand and called Xavier. He answered quickly. We spoke about everything. I told him about my new friends, and how Donner was doing. He told me about some local events back home, and how my old friends were. For hours and hours we went on and on, talking about everything and anything. When I found myself tired, I would just shut my eyes and keep listening. I’m not sure when I fell asleep, but I don’t remember hanging up, and woke in the morning with phone in hand. I smiled, noting the length of the call. I missed my best friend.
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        07-22-2014, 07:28 PM
      #24
    Weanling
    I really, really like your characters in this one. And Dean...Supernatural...I see what you did there
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        07-22-2014, 10:39 PM
      #25
    Yearling
    @fazia425 -- Shhh, I was trying to be discreet ;) I mean, with the green eyes and Dean's haircut described, it's not like I have ... an obsession with Supernatural or anything ... *cough cough*
    I'm actually really loving the characters in this one too. I feel much more "in tune" with this particular story, and am enjoying writing it. Almost more than I enjoyed writing Heartlines, in fact. Probably because of how close the story hits home, but who knows!

    More tonight or tomorrow morning!
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        07-24-2014, 09:49 AM
      #26
    Green Broke
    I like the energy in this one alot! I can feel it in your typing of every word.
         
        07-28-2014, 08:53 PM
      #27
    Yearling
    Chapter 9

    While I might have fibbed about how close the last installment would be, I took the liberty of going ahead and writing a few chapters ahead. I will have one chapter up each day until it's finished, now! I didn't think you guys would mind any! :) Without further ado, Chapter 9!

    ~*~

    I was dressed and ready when Tamira came in, to her pleasure. She smiled and nodded, leading me back to the house. The chores consisted of many things dealing with basic housekeeping. There was a large chart set on one wall, a whiteboard sectioned off with tape and filled with dry-erase marker. The chart was divided horizontally by each person, labelled with a name on the far left. It was divided vertically by chore. Check marks went where the columns and rows intersect, when someone had completed a chore. While I was shown the system, my name remained off of the board for now. Instead, Tamira checked off the chores I was to do under a blank name-spot.

    Once I was finished sweeping the kitchen floor, dusting the common area, cleaning up the place I slept in the infirmary, and watering the plants outside of the house, I was finished and allowed to use my barn recreation time. We had already taken care of our horses as a part of our chores (they weren’t on the board because it was done daily, at set times), so I was ready to ride. Beforehand, I ran to the infirmary to clothe myself in a bathing suit under a comfortable t-shirt and jeans. I threw on my riding boots and half-chaps over my jeans and head out for the barn. Dean and Miranda were already getting tacked up, but we were still waiting on Adam. I got Donner’s saddle on, but waited to put his bridle on. I walked him over to where Dean and Miranda were also waiting. “Adam’s usually a little late leaving the house when we go on rides,” Miranda noted. “Yeah, he has to fix his makeup for the deer,” Dean joked. We laughed, but I was curious to know why nobody knew exactly what took Adam so long. I shrugged it off quickly when he finally came out. “Sorry guys, I’ll grab Chester and we can be on our way,” Adam called to us as he hurriedly entered Chester’s stall. Chester was Adam’s assigned horse. He was a short, stocky Quarter Horse, with a nice, dark roan coat. I noticed Miranda and Dean slipping their bridles on, but asked why they were doing so already, “doesn’t he have to tack up still?” Miranda shook her head, and pointed back to Adam. He already had Chester out in the aisle, brushed, and dressed in a Bosal bridle (a type of bridle that has no mouthpiece; bitless) With nimble skill, Adam jumped right up onto Chester’s back, turning back and jeering at us, “what’s taking y’all so long?”

    I was a bit shocked, but quickly got Donner’s bridle on and joined my friends on horseback. Adam led the way with Dean next to him, and Miranda and I rode side-by-side just behind the boys. The trail was wide enough to where this worked out well. The path was beautiful, neatly trimmed and clearly well-traveled. “We come out here on the weekends mostly every week during the summer. It’s one of the best spots you can find, and the girls never take this trail, so we can avoid them pretty easily,” Miranda explained as I nodded along. “They typically stick to the arena, working their horses around the barrel patterns. They get around pretty quick, but they aren’t super friendly about it. They are constantly wailing their legs on their horses’ sides to get them to run faster. They compete with each other since we don’t go to showing events or anything, so I guess it’s enough to keep them occupied.” I nodded along, “how do the horses react? Do they seem to put up with it?” I asked. Miranda swished her head side to side, “they don’t seem to dislike it, and the girls do take care of them. I mean, they are required to, but at least they don’t slack on giving them water or anything. I don’t think they really have any sort of bond, though.” I gave a wayward frown. I loved the bond I had with Donner. I couldn’t understand how someone could work with a good horse that worked hard for them, and not feel anything towards them. I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, though, as we reached the lake soon after the conversation.

    The water was gorgeous, not green or cloudy at all. It seemed almost pool-like, full of large, flat stones and smooth surfaces. The lake included spots of sand, and stretched a good ways. There was a large fountain on the far side, built of rocks and a barely-exposed PVC pipe that turned the fountain into a beautiful waterfall. It was obvious that the pond was man-made, but it looked extremely natural, and was even stocked with large fish. “Pretty amazing, huh?” Adam came up jumped off of Chester, tying him to one of the two hitching posts, “it was one of the house’s big budget projects, when they got all kinds of funding from start up.”

    I jumped down with everyone else, tying our horses with quick release knots. We had all brought halters with us, of course, and that is how we tied them. Everyone started stripping into their bathing suits, so I did the same. The boys had just thrown t-shirts on and rode in their trunks, but Miranda and I had come fully clothed. We threw our clothes into one big pile, on top of an old worn picnic table. Miranda and I gushed over my Supernatural bathing suit for just a minute, and then we proceeded to untack our horses. Our saddles went on small saddle racks that hooked onto the hitching posts, and we hopped back on our horses bareback, with nothing but our halters, with lead ropes looped over as reins, and tied to either side of the halter’s rings. The only one to break our mock dress code was Adam; he continued riding in his Bosal bridle, as it wasn’t made of leather like everyone else’s bridles were.

    “Alright everyone, let’s plunge in!” Dean shouted, with a jaw-breaking smile. He looked over to me and laughed, using his hand to gesture me into the lake. We entered through a part made of rock, with no-slip mats covering them. The rocks made a gentle ramp into the water, and it was obvious that this was made just for the horses. Dean went in first, trotting Indy at a quick pace into the water. It was obvious that they had done this many times. Adam trotted in behind them on Chester, while Miranda walked her horse Maverick in just ahead of my boy. She laughed as we watched the boys frolic about in the shallow end of the pond, trotting their horses in circles and letting them paw at the water with big, powerful strides. The boys jeered and laughed, teasing each-other and splashing about. Donner was a bit timid, but Maverick seemed very sure of himself. Miranda gently led us into the shallow end of the pond, and I kept Donner just a few strides away from everyone as he got used to the cool water. Miranda let Maverick wade around just a bit, before she led him right into the deep end.

    Maverick clearly enjoyed swimming, as his ears flicked about and his step bounced a bit more as his body was slowly cloaked with more and more water. Just after the water lapped up onto Maverick’s belly, Miranda slipped off of his back and into the water, letting her legs float behind her and she stayed an arm’s length away from Maverick’s shoulder. She kept a grip on Maverick’s lead as he carted her around, holding his head up above the water like a professional. You could see his big, powerful legs kicking and swishing about below the surface, proud and quick. Miranda giggled the whole time, and Maverick took her around the deep end with gentle power. I was just watching in awe, smiling ear-to-ear, excited for me and Donner to take the plunge. I patted his wet neck, as he seemed to begin to relax. Suddenly, I felt a cold burst of water splash up onto my torso!

    I quickly shot a glance to where the water came from, only to see Dean laughing his head off just a few feet away, with Indy prancing about under him, “Got you!” he called. I laughed, “ohh, I’ll get you Dean!” I teasingly threatened, pushing Donner into a swift trot. Dean spun Indy away from me, trying to flee as he was unable to control his laughter. It wasn’t long before I caught up to the pair, turning Donner in front of them. Indy stopped short, putting Dean onto her neck. Without resisting, Dean let himself fall into the water before Indy, laughing the whole time as it happened. I stood proudly upon Donner, trying to keep myself from bursting into laughter as well. “Now I’ve got YOU, mister!” I stuck my tongue out as Dean shook his head, whipping water from his hair. “Oh yeah?!” He taunted, before jumping over to my leg, “Not for long!” He chanted, as he pulled me off of Donner and into the cool, clear water. While we kept a grip on our horses, we stood between them now, gripping onto each other’s arms with our free hands, laughing hysterically. “I think we may have to call this a draw,” Dean pleaded, through breathless laughter. “Yeah … or …” I jeered, just before dunking his head under the surface. He rose from the water with wide eyes, and an even wider smile, “I’ll get you, Cas!” He called to me as I climbed back onto Donner’s back to make my escape. The nickname stopped me for a moment, sending a warm feeling through my skin. I felt no urge to tell him to call me Cassie, that that nickname was reserved. Instead, I found myself egging him on, “Oh yeah? You’ll have to catch me first!”

    The whole gang swam for a good, long while. Everybody splashed, jumped about, roughhoused, and otherwise made fools of ourselves, leaving us all pretty tired. The horses were allowed to munch on the grass they could find around the hitching posts, while Dean and Adam busted out some sandwiches for all of us. Miranda and I thanked them for thinking of the lunch, for we were all pretty hungry. We chowed down, joking and laughing about like old friends. I really felt close to these guys, even though I had only just met them a few days ago. I secretly hoped that the Haven would allow me to stay, for I could barely tolerate the thought of having to leave again.

    Soon enough, Miranda checked her clock, “Hey Dean, when did you tell Vickie we would be back?” “Sometime around five or six; we left at two, correct?” She nodded, “It’s four thirty now. You think we should head back?” She asked. Dean dropped his shoulders a bit, biting his lip. “You and Adam go ahead; me and Cas will clean up around here. That okay with you?” He asked me, to which I nodded. Miranda looked to me through the corner of her eye and snuck in a wink, to which I replied to with the best evil-glare I could muster. She would get a talking-to later! Adam stood quickly, Miranda following short after. “See you guys at dinner! I’ll tell Vickie you’re coming in a little bit behind us, so don’t take forever!” Miranda called back to us as her and Adam rode their horses back up the trail. Dean stood up now, and I followed. We started cleaning up as Dean had stated, and I mentally told myself that Miranda had gotten the wrong idea about his intentions. I did decide to use the alone time to my advantage, though.

    “So, Dean … I don’t mean to pry, but Adam said something about you being kind of quiet when I got here. Was he just messing with me, or…?” I asked timidly, a bit shy to ask. The question had been bugging me, though, I had to admit. Dean stopped for a moment, making me think twice about asking such a question. Before I could repent, he began speaking. “No, he wasn’t messing with you. I guess I kind of felt comfortable around you pretty quickly. You just seem kind of … real, I guess.” He laughed at himself a bit, though I didn’t know why. He continued, “I’m not really a people person, Cas. Here, come sit.” We moved over to the sandy area near the pond, as Dean played with a stick in the water while he talked. I simply watched the designs he made as I listened, sitting close to him but not touching, “I’ve been in the foster system for a while. I remember my parents, surprisingly. They dropped me when I was six, I think. Put me up for adoption because they couldn’t afford to keep me, I was told,” he shifted his weight uncomfortably, and I reached out for his hand, hoping to comfort him. He gripped it, looking down at my arm as he kept going. “That made me a little mad. I mean, it’s not a puppy, it’s a person, you know? You don’t just give a kid away like you do a dog.” I nodded softly, squeezing his hand, trying to keep him from getting too upset. He squeezed back. “Anyways, I’ve been shuffled around since then. When I was ten, I thought I had found somewhere nice, a family that would actually keep me. Well, I thought that for five years. Sometime after I turned fifteen, they got pregnant. Said it was a miracle, an act of God. Needless to say, they didn’t need someone else’s kid to love anymore. I had made friends, thought I had a family, even made some memories in a house I thought I might have called home. Then all of a sudden, it was gone.” His voice cracked in the last sentence, which cracked my heart along with it. I pulled him into a hug, as he dropped his stick and let himself fall into my lap. I held him there for a while, letting a soft silence remain between us.

    I stroked his hair for a long time, gently massaging his head. Every once in a while, his breath would shudder, and he slipped out a whimper, but it was basically silent by the lake. I think it must have been six by then, because shadows began to cast themselves on the lake, but that didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to fix all of Dean’s problems, turn his memories into happy ones, do all I could to help him. After a long while, he took a deep breath and spoke again. “I’ve been here ever since. It’s been nice, but people come through in here so fast. Here one day, gone the next. You become close with someone, and then they’re gone. I only let myself open up to Adam because … no foster families wanted to deal with a punk teenager. Miranda sticks close to us too, but I’m still even afraid to get too close to her, you know? She’s the type to be taken home at any given day.” I took a deep breath, suddenly realizing that the Haven might not have been the refuge I thought it was. Dean flipped on his back now, facing upwards as he continued to use my lap as a pillow. I attempted a slight smile, “I’m not going anywhere,” I whispered, trying to keep myself from crying as well. “I’m not going anywhere, Dean.” I repeated, stronger this time.

    And that’s when I, Cassandra, had my first kiss with a beautiful, yet partially broken, boy named Dean.

    ~*~
    Oops, my romantic novelist side fell out
    What do you guys think, team Dean or team Xavier?? I felt like getting a little more depth to this particular story, let me know if you like it or would prefer to keep it more solely horse-oriented!
    faiza425 and horsedream568 like this.
         
        07-29-2014, 02:32 AM
      #28
    Foal
    Ahhhhhhhh!! I don't mind a little romance as long as the whole story isn't based on it. As for who I don't know??? I really don't know!!!
         
        07-29-2014, 08:48 AM
      #29
    Weanling
    I think the story needs a bit more Xavier before I can decide! But Dean and Cas ;) I certainly am liking that. I don't mind the romance aspect at all. I'm ready for more!
    xJumperx and horsedream568 like this.
         
        07-29-2014, 02:25 PM
      #30
    Yearling
    Chapter 10 Pt. 1

    @faiza -- Man, you've got me figured out!! (ahem, Destiel is OTP, ahem)

    Anyways, your daily installment! This one moves a bit quicker, so there's more going on in a shortened amount of time. Hope you guys don't mind! Enjoy!

    This chapter is broken into two posts, because I reached maximum character count.
    ~*~*~*~

    We had gotten back right after six, only saved from punishment because of Miranda and Adam telling everyone exactly where we were, and that we were cleaning up. We had rode back right after the moment by the lake, once Dean splashed his face with water to hide the tears he had shed. The ride started quiet, but we were back to joking playfully with each other before we had gotten back to the Haven. Dinner was nice, though Miranda was prodding me the whole time, telling me that I owed her a visit to her room after dinner. I agreed.

    Of course, being girls, we had to discuss everything that had happened. Miranda was super excited about the fact, wanting every single detail. “I’m telling you, that’s literally it! We were just sitting there, joking around, and boom!” I kept it as short as possible, knowing I couldn’t delve into everything Dean had told me about his past. It wasn’t for me to share, and I felt the things we had said belonged between us. Miranda was obviously displeased with my cliff-notes, but soon enough I was able to edge her onto a different topic, and all was well.

    Eventually, Tamira was back at Miranda’s door. This time, she wasn’t calling me back to the infirmary though. She led me down back into the dining room, where Vickie was sitting before an open binder. I couldn’t tell its contents, but my blood instantly ran cold. What if they were kicking me out? After I had just told Dean I would stay … “Stupid, stupid!” I chastised myself in my head, praying that that wasn’t the case. I sat down facing the women, who sat together behind the binder. Vickie started, “we’ve decided that since you were well enough to ride out with the others, and based on your health stats, that you are completely healthy. There is no need for us to keep you in the infirmary any longer.” My heart sunk. I was getting kicked out. This was it. I was going to be just another kid to come through here … “But, we don’t see any reason to put you on the road, either. We have plenty of open spots here, and the kids would appreciate an extra set of hands with the chores. You worked hard this morning, and we feel comfortable enough with our financial situation that we think we can make accommodations for you.”

    It took a minute for it to set in. Were they really keeping me? Would I really be allowed to stay? “Thank you, so much. I … I don’t know what to say,” Tamira spoke next, “this isn’t permanent, dear. We can’t turn this place into an adoption home. While we can keep you for the meantime, it is only until you can find a permanent place.” Tamira’s voice was stern, but Vickie interrupted, “But, we can house you until then, for as long as it takes to find that permanent home,” she said with a smile. I grinned at them both, “Thank you, so very much. I will work as hard as you need me to, and then some. You’ll never have to worry about me, I’ll be on my best behavior!” They nodded, “that’s what we thought we would hear,” Tamira added. “You’ll be roomed with Miranda. The spare bed will be made up with a bed spread that you can pick from what we’ve got in the storage room. Everything is clean. You can make up your bed tonight, but worry about decorating your room tomorrow. It is already past ten, so everyone must stay in their rooms now. Tomorrow after your chores, I will bring you into my office so that we can discuss the rules of the Haven in detail.” I nodded in agreement, and I went to select my sheets. I picked something fun that went well with Miranda’s décor, and entered Miranda’s room with them. When she saw the set, she instantly knew I was there to stay.

    We squealed into pillows and danced around the room for a while, before I finally made my bed and we settled in. It took us probably a half an hour to say goodnight through the giggling and the fun, but I slept very well that night when we finally got to rest.

    That night, I found myself dreaming of home. Specifically, Xavier.
    These dreams came in the form of memories. Several of our fondest times, but probably my favorite memory of our friendship came to the forefront in my mind. Ironically, my happiest memory was of one of my saddest times: the nights before I left home. I had called Xavier in frantic hysteria. I was pleading with him to take me away, to start the car, come get me, and let us drive forever. I just couldn’t be home anymore … for the house I resided in just wasn’t home anymore. He would deny it, saying I was being irrational. He said he couldn’t stand to see me leave, but would help me plan a more logical way if I literally couldn’t stay. “Think of it Cas,” he would say, “You couldn’t leave Donner. I mean, you’re freaking out because they’re selling him. I won’t let that happen, not to him or to you. But we have to slow down, okay? Let’s just think.”

    For hours, we’d stay on the phone, talking about the path I would take and where I would go. The whole time, he’d be asking me to reconsider. The whole time, I’d tell him I was set on this. The next day I would go to his house. We would consider planning, writing everything down and studying places I could go, eventually landing on the Haven. Soon enough, Xavier would beg for a break. “Cas, come on, let’s walk up and grab some ice cream or something. We can come back to this.” I agreed, and we would take off. We frequented this ice cream shop, as it was only a mile or so away from our homes. We were almost neighbors, just a street down from each other. On the way we would prance around the sidewalk, jumping the lines and acting like complete fools. We would nearly fall over, and grab each other for stability. We were the epitome of best friends, and I never thought we would go our separate ways. We discussed going to college together, renting apartments together … I guess it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be with Xavier, at least as a friend.

    We had been this way since grade school. After our several years together, I had no doubt in my mind that I loved Xavier. He cheered me up when I was down, and made living with my overbearing parents bearable. He was the brother I always wanted, and that’s how I always thought of him; as a brother. We would flick our ice cream at each other on that last day, staining our clothes and making our skin ten kinds of sticky with the frozen cream. A few nights later, he would drive me to Donner’s barn, and watch me leave over the hills. I’d give him one last wave, and in that moment, I would feel a pang of pain that told me that maybe Xavier wasn’t just a brother to me. When I woke the next morning, I swore I would call him that night.

    ~*~

    The group wasn’t planning on anything specific the next day, so I figured I would get Donner into the arena and give him a good schooling. I thought he might still remember his training from before, but he may be a bit slow to get back into it. After the morning chores (I finally had my name on the board!), I head out to the barn immediately. The only issue was that when I entered the round pen, my horse was gone.

    I instantly panicked. My blood ran cold, my breath ran out, and it took everything I had not to scream. Where is Donner!?

    I raced into the barn, as I knew I saw someone go in there. To my displeasure it had been Lilith, but I was welcome to talk to anyone that might know where my baby boy was. She was getting into her horse’s stall when I came up behind her, “Lilith! Please, please tell me you know where my horse is. Lilith I’m begging you,” I was nearly on the verge of tears, while Lilith just looked me up and down like I was crazy. “Stall behind Indy, you obsessive weirdo. Maybe look around before spazzing out?” I paused for a moment, not sure if I should punch her or hug her. I decided to just leave her be, and ran over to where she instructed me.

    Sure enough, Donner was placed comfortably in the large stall. He munched from a hay net in the corner of his stall, looking up when I appeared at the stall door. “Hey buddy!” I called, extremely relieved to see him there. I looked down at his name-plate, expecting to see both of our names in whiteboard, as it had been made clear that we were temporary visitors. Instead, I found the bronze emblem emblazed with DONNER, with CASSANDRA in smaller letters just beneath it. While the plaque was contained in a temporary slip, I loved how “set in stone” it was. I couldn’t hold back a wide smile as I entered his stall, halter in hand. I tied him to a tie ring in the stall, and proceeded to tack him up. I found my stuff in the tack room, under a locker with my name written on the whiteboard above. Once my boy was fully dressed, I headed out into the arena. I noticed Miranda out there as well, and she stopped by the gate when she saw me enter.

    “Hey! What’s up fellow English buddy? I’ve set up some jumps on the far side over there, but I couldn’t jump without a spotter before. Want to do the honors, and I’ll spot you?” Miranda looked very excited, and I had to admit I wanted to get jumping as well. I nodded, “I’d love to!” Miranda beamed, “Cool! You can also help me out with my jumping if you don’t mind. Vickie sometimes gives me pointers when she’s not busy, and I watch videos all the time, but other than that I don’t really have lessons or anything.” I agreed to the arrangement, and we began warming up our horses.

    Miranda had already been out there for a while, so while I trotted around, she went over a few cross rails. While she did have a good base position, I was able to tell she wasn’t lying about her lack of instruction. She was skilled enough to be safe, though, so I just had to remind her of little things to perfect her position. Donner was working perfectly, as if we hadn’t missed a day of practice. After a good warm-up and lots of pats, I decided we were ready to start jumping. Donner and I had been competitive in the 3’ divisions back home, but I asked how high Miranda had gone, and she only responded with 2’6”. I decided it would be best to keep Donner at that height today anyway, as he hadn’t jumped in a few weeks.

    We took turns going over the small vertical, both of us sharing tips and hints each of us had learned. Donner did fabulously. It was so fantastic, the feeling: a shock of bliss, flying over the jump, completely in sync with my boy. I didn’t realize how much I had missed jumping until I started again. If Donner had been able to, I could have jumped all day and all night. Eventually, I knew we had to stop for the day, though I promised Donner we would be back in the arena on the next ride-day. I gave him tons of love and pats as we cooled down, as I was more than ecstatic with him. Since Miranda started first, she was also finished first, so she headed back to the barn to take care of Maverick, her horse. I agreed to put the jumps back where they belonged.
         

    Tags
    horse stories, novels, runaway, running away, teen

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