My Winter Wonderland continued *bows*:
The bay Arabian colt glared at me as I slid the bit into his mouth. “It’s okay, Elementary. We’re almost done for today, but you have to get used to the bit,” I said.
“Kacey!” I could hear my brother calling. I sighed and let the bit drop out of Elementary’s mouth and let go of his halter. I left the halter on, to make it easier to catch him and to get him used to it, but I’d take it off before I left. He didn’t like it at all.
I marched off to where Peter was saddling Jinks. My horse Beatrice was waiting, and I started tacking her up. I’d gotten Beatrice and Jinks ready to be tacked when I got here, before moving on to work with Elementary.
Our ride was fairly quick. Then I led Peter out into the field so we could work on Elementary together.
Elementary trotted right up to us and head-butted Peter lightly, stood for a second, then turned to me. I grinned. He’d be receiving no treats from either of us until this was done, but he could dream.
I started to clip on his lead rope, and he took a quick step back. I tried again and received the same reception. When I tried the third time, he trotted away, then turned and looked back at me. I don’t know if most horses are really supposed to be able to smile, but this one sure had an annoying boyish grin.
“Great,” I said, kicking the ground with my heel. “Now he thinks it’s all a big game.”
Peter started to laugh hysterically, and everyone turned to look at him — meaning me and the horses.
“He reminds me of Jinks, when he was a colt,” Peter said, and chuckled quietly. I rolled my eyes and started to circle around Elementary. The colt watched for a while as I tightened the circle, but when I got close enough, he head-butted me.
I sat down hard and said something unintelligible. Elementary looked at me curiously, and I could almost imagine him saying, “Why, whatever are you doing down there? Let’s get back to the game.”
I carefully got back up and started scratching him as I took a firm hold of the halter. I tossed the rope over his neck, then released the halter to pinch it together and make a loop before clipping it.
I led him to the barn, groomed him, and then let him loose. Peter helped groom him, but I was in a sour mood and went back to my real home as soon as we were done. Well, at least, to my home that wasn’t just a figment of Peter’s and my imagination.
The one good thing about everything disappearing as soon as you brought it back through the portal, was that you didn’t have to explain why you needed to clean off your old riding boots, or why your bottom was covered in mud.
The moment I stepped through the portal, my mud-smeared jeans became just as neat and proper as they had been when I went in. Even the hole I’d imagined into them repaired itself.
The thing was, as soon as I returned home, my spirits sank, back to good old “home”. I wondered if it was possible to completely live in the other world.
I shrugged out of my heavy coat and dumped it in the corner of my closet, checked that no one was around, and slipped back into my own room. After tightly re-closing the closet door to hide the portal, I went upstairs.
Father was waiting for me. I looked at his scowling face in fright, wondering if he’d been looking for me while I wasn’t in the room. I wished time could just freeze while Peter and I were in the other world.
He looked at me and looked slightly disappointed, then said in his deepest you’re in trouble now, missy voice, said, “Kacey Holmes! You, girl, have no right to—,” his voice changed, and he suddenly grasped me in a breath-taking hold, “not be as excited as a monkey with a truck load of bananas!”
I stared at him as I wriggled out of his grip. He let me go, and clapped his hands together like a little boy. “You mother and I are going to throw a party. We’ve already invited the neighbors, and your mother’s calling the Days right now!”
He sounded like the family had just won a million dollar lottery. I looked at him blankly, so he continued, “It’s on Friday night, and if you’d like, your mother was going ask Annie’s mom if Annie Dannie could stay over.”
As soon as I heard his new nickname for Annie, I slapped my face and groaned. “Dad, that’s worse than Kacey Macey!” Though I had to admit to myself, it was better than Peter Eater.
My father, of course, just laughed and half skipped to the kitchen. I wandered after him, hoping Annie didn’t mind my father giving her silly nicknames. I doubted she would, but it still felt uncomfortable.
Luke gets on my nerves. . . again
I grinned as soon as I saw Annie. She was wearing a bright green shirt and jeans, and had her hair pulled into a neat ponytail. She also wore a ridiculously wide grin.
She was the second one to arrive. The Hunters were in the kitchen, helping to set up.
I welcomed the Days enthusiastically, and Annie joined me on the fold-up chairs to wait for the rest of the guests. I don’t know why it had landed on me to do the greeting, but it was a lot more fun with Annie there with me.
I grinned at her after we’d welcomed a larger group of guests (two families had come together). “There’s one more. Dad would have invited the whole neighborhood, except our house couldn’t hold that many. As it is, we’ll probably need to disappear to the basement to make room.”
Annie pretended to looked distressed and put the back of her hand against her forehead dramatically. “Oh no, not the basement! Oh horrors of horrors that we’d have to stay in the basement!”
We were both still laughing when we answered the door for the next family and led them to the kitchen for some snacks.
We fixed ourselves a plate of pastries and donuts and chips, and I grabbed some coffee while she poured herself lemonade. We mixed with the others for a bit while we snacked.
Luke was in a corner, separate from everyone but watching intently as he munched on a carrot. I ignored him.
After awhile, my mother relented and told us to go downstairs. She had insisted that we didn’t run away immediately, but she said that we looked so bored that a sloth couldn’t look boreder.
We got permission from Annie’s dad, and then went out to the car to get her stuff and headed downstairs.
I grinned at her, once we’d dropped everything in the basement. I whistled to Honey, who we’d kept downstairs, and went into my room. I opened the closet door.
“Come on, I’ll show you my ultimate hideout! I’m sure my brother won’t mind.”
I went ahead and took Honey through the portal with the two of us. He instantly imagined himself some dog treats, and I chuckled. “Didn’t know dogs could use these thought-places, too. Heh.”
We left Honey in my other-world bedroom while I gave Annie a tour of the house, then came back to check on Honey before we visited the horses. Luke was sitting on my bed, with Honey happily munching on bones in his lap. He gave us a very hard look, and I really wanted to punch him.