Fleur sat very still in her chair, unconcerned about the hard wood or the fact that she was still too short for her feet to reach the ground. Discomfort didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except.... Her big, blue eyes continued to stare at the door as she watched the other students walk into the classroom.
The first day of school was always the hardest. Every year, she felt sick on the bus ride into town on the first day of school. The last day was pretty bad too, knowing she might not see her friends over the summer, feeling alone and isolated as she walked home for the last time that school year. But now it was the beginning of the school year. Now she waited, praying that her friends hadn’t moved away over the summer.
The first day, she had no information, no knowledge of her friends’ activities. She was relying on hope, prayers and the vagaries of life. Having been abandoned by her parents had caused some serious, emotional scars in Fleur’s heart.
Silvie came through the door and Fleur’s eyes showed a small bit of relief as her friend hurried over to take the desk next to hers. “Is Bella here?” Fleur asked after Silvie gave Fleur a big hug.
“Yeah, I saw her out in the parking lot. Her father drove her to school today.”
A bit more tension left Fleur’s shoulders. Two down, two to go.
Melissa entered next and Fleur allowed her shoulders to touch the back of the chair slightly. “Did you see Jenny’s sweater?’ Melissa asked with a horrified expression. “I wanted that sweater but she was at the mall the same day and knew I was going to buy it!” Melissa said as she took the desk right in front of Fleur.
Fleur barely heard the conversation as she stared at the door, waiting. Just waiting. The teacher walked in a moment later and Fleur almost shouted that class couldn’t start yet! Danielle wasn’t here yet, she hadn’t arrived! No class until everyone was here, until Fleur knew that all of her friends showed up.
Thankfully, a group of kids walked in just as the teacher was clapping her hands. Danielle’s huge grin caused the rest of Fleur’s tension to dissipate. All of her friends were here!
Fourth grade was going to be okay! No one had moved away or mysteriously disappeared over the summer months and the nausea that had been plaguing her for the past several days, magically went away.
The teacher called everyone to order and started to explain how fourth grade was going to work, how it was different from third grade, all the wonderful things that the class was going to experience over the course of the year.
Fleur heard none of it. She was just too relieved that all of her friends were still here. No one had moved over the summer break!
That wound was going to kill him.
Fourteen year old Hunter stared at the wild horse’s hindquarter, knowing that he’d have to help the big guy. The wounded animal was going to die if Hunter didn’t get him some help.
Problem was, the horse was huge…not to mention he was wild which only complicated the whole situation.
Not a problem, he thought with a grin as he bent down lower. Crouching down, he let the rough rope slip through his hands, getting the loop ready. Staying upwind so the horse didn’t detect his scent, Hunter carefully moved closer.
At the last minute, the stallion caught sight of Hunter, but it was too late. Hunter had already whipped the rope around the stallion’s neck and, as the horse tried to bolt away, Hunter pulled himself up onto the animal’s back.
Whispering soothing words, he held on as the stallion raced across the prairie, trying hard to buck, scrape or knock Hunter off. But Hunter hung on, refusing to give in. The horse’s life depended on it. Yes, he was wild, but he was also in need of medical attention. If there was one thing Hunter hated, it was seeing an animal in pain. This big guy was hurting. Hunter sensed it even as the horse started to slow down, running out of energy after the wild run across the dried up, crispy grass.
As the stallion finally slowed to a halt, Hunter patted the big guy’s neck, still whispering soothing sounds, watching the horse’s ears twitch back and forth because his ears would give Hunter clues as to what the stallion was thinking and feeling.
With a skill that most fourteen year olds didn’t have, he guided the stallion back towards his father’s ranch and talking to him the whole time, letting the horse start to recognize his voice.
Coming into the stables, he talked the horse into remaining calm. The horse pulled back slightly at the sight of other people, including his friends Joe, Vince and Droon from the ranch next door. Either he was over at their place, or the three of them were here at his father’s ranch. Usually, Halley, their cute but still annoying baby sister, was tagging along unless the three of them managed to ditch her somewhere between the two places.
“What happened to him?” Droon asked, taking the rope and using his hands to allow the anxious stallion to smell him.
Vince and Joe did the same thing but then stepped back, not wanting to spook the nervous horse by crowding him.
“I don’t know. I found him out in the south field. He’s not only wounded, but hungry and thirsty. Can one of you call my father over? We need to get the vet out here to take a look at this wound. It will probably need stitches and a lot of antibiotics.”
Droon rushed out of the stable in search of the older man while Vince walked around to look at the gash in the horse’s hind quarter. “It’s pretty deep. The big guy might not survive.” Vince walked over to one of the shelves and grabbed a numbing ointment, bringing it back to his friend.
Hunter jumped off and took the rope, letting the horse know what he was doing every step of the way by talking to him and running his hand over the horse’s matted coat, staying far away from the wound. “I know, I but I’m going to try to save him. He’s already starting to trust me so I can’t let him down now.”
Leading him into the stables, he let the horse smell the salve before he put it on the wounded flank. He then brought him over to a big trough of water, dumping a big bucket of oats into the stall.
The horse followed, finally trusting Hunter to not hurt him, to take care of him.
That night, as Hunter slept in the space right outside of the wounded horse’s stall, he thought about the night sky, about all of the amazing things that were in this world. But he doubted there was anything more amazing than trust.