My winter wonder land continued (at last):
Luke shifted Honey and then started swinging his legs. “You know, most people don’t have doors to other dimensions in their closets. Most people don’t have extra doors in their closets either.”
I growled at him. “And little boys shouldn’t go into girls’ closets. Or their rooms, for that matter.”
Annie looked between us for a moment, then said, “Why were you in Kacey’s room?”
Luke laid back on the bed. Scratching Honey’s ears and still swinging his legs, he replied, “Well you see, I don’t socialize much, so I came down here because it seemed like the least crowded place. And I figured I might tell you that the other kids were playing twister. When you didn’t answer my knock, I decided to make sure you hadn’t killed yourselves.”
I rolled my eyes. “Really? How would we have done something like that?”
“Easy, tripped on one of your horsey toys and split your head open. And then your friend probably did the same thing trying to help you.”
Annie rolled her eyes. “So, what do we do with him?”
Luke grinned. “Well, you can’t make me leave because I’ll tell on you guys having a separate dimension stashed in your bedroom.”
I squinted my eyes at him, something snapped around him, but he waved it away. “Honestly, why can’t we all get along? It isn’t like I’m going hurt your perfect little world. Honestly,” he said.
Suddenly Annie clapped. “I know what we should do. We’ll have a horse race. Didn’t you say you had a nice old obstacle course outside, Kacey? Just a nice and normal horse race. If Kacey wins, Luke has to leave. If Luke wins, he gets to stay. Either way, Luke is not allowed to tell on us having this separate world thing. Anything done to make the race abnormal or unfair, and the culprit instantly loses. I’ll be the judge.”
At first I pretended to fight the idea, lull Luke into thinking he had a chance at winning. While I was thinking, I imagined up the course. Fairly simple, because I had plans to not ride Beatrice.
While Beatrice was nice for some things, racing wasn’t one. Instead, my mind went to Elementary. In a normal world, that would be impossible. However in this world. . .
The first thing we did when we stepped outside was place the track. Then as we walked to the barn, I discussed the rules with Annie. “Is it really cheating for me to just move one of the horse’s training along? I’ll make it so that they’re all close in training. Their personalities and abilities won’t change a bit, they’ll all just have the same amount of training. I mean, if Luke was to make the mistake of choosing an untrained one, he might have a horrid accident.”
Annie thought about it for a minute, then agreed. Happily, I inserted the information into Elementary’s head as soon as I entered the barn.
I quickly saddled Elementary, after Luke choose a bay gelding name Rusty. Rusty was a good jumper, but testy; he didn’t tend to do well with untrained riders. However, I didn’t say anything about Luke’s choice.
It wasn’t until we were out to the course that I turned to Luke and said, “You can ride, right? Should I give myself the handicap of having to jump while you get to go around them?”
He grinned, “I think I’ll make out all right. I’ll meet you whenever you get to the finish line. Heh.”
Obviously I wasn’t thinking straight, or I would have realized that Luke must have something up his sleeve. I knew he’d had some riding lessons, otherwise I wouldn’t have let him race in case he got hurt, but he surprised me.
After we warmed up, we went to the start. Annie waved, and right from the get-go Luke was at a canter. Elementary, however, was at a buck. True to my word, I’d only made it so he knew how to do everything, and what the signals were. It didn’t mean he had to like them.
It took a bit to straighten him out, and by then Luke was halfway through the course. I was just in time to watch him make a startlingly good jump. I got Elementary to it. I was pretty positive I couldn’t catch up, but I wasn’t about to not try.
Once he was done misbehaving, Elementary flew through like air. He was a fine jumper, and quick on his feet, and I’d never been particularly heavy. We managed to get through three-quarters of the track before Luke finished.
When I came up next to him, he grinned. “Mighty fine racer, but I think you need to work on the start.” I glared at him.
I decided after that to simply ignore him, go about my plans with Annie. After I showed her around, we discussed what horse would be best for her. I put her on Beatrice and continued to ride Elementary.
We started riding down the trail, and I hardly noticed Luke riding behind us until we got to my tree house and he asked about it. I told him sharply that it was nothing, and hated him all the more afterwards because I didn’t want to prove that it wasn’t nothing by showing it to Annie.
It was Annie who decided she wanted to followed the animal trail. It branched off the main trail, something I’d never noticed before. I assumed Peter must have put it there, and since he hadn’t warned me off it, I went ahead.
It flared out onto a trail I scarcely remembered. It was one my family used to ride a lot, just at a walk. Then a tree fell down, and we stopped riding it.
This part was beyond the tree, and I turned and led on. I let Elementary have his head to check for any pot holes, which there were none, but I kept a close eye on him to make sure he didn’t spook.
When we reached a clearing that had a river running by it, I smiled. This had been a favorite picnic spot before the tree fell.
What happened next startle me as much as it startled Beatrice. A rabbit streaked through Beatrice’s hooves, and having never liked bunnies, Beatrice twisted around.
Annie would, and should, have just flown off. However as a security measure we’d put glue on the saddle. Annie lurched, Beatrice stumbled, and they both fell in the river. And just to make my day, Elementary bucked and sent a distracted me to the ground.
[To be continued . . . .]