Best Friend

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“Are you ready?” I whispered quietly into Santiago’s ear while I rubbed his neck. I sat up straight and nudged my heels into his side and he instantly took off. Guilt welled up inside me for not taking him out earlier, he really had a lot of pent up energy. We took off through the winding trails, dodging trees and jumping over fallen logs. Times spent with my horse were the best times of my life. Who needed a boyfriend when you had a horse who would actually listen to you whine about your problems and deal with you when it was your ‘time of the month’.

When we hit the meadow I pulled Santiago to a stop. I found this place a few months ago and I had been coming back ever since. It was so calm and peaceful, so beautiful. We stood in the shadows of the trees as we stared out into the sun-streaked meadow.

“Here we go,” I said squeezing my legs tighter and clucking my tongue. We took of loping across the meadow and all the while I had my head back feeling the wind on my face. Santiago knew which way to go without me even telling him. I could drop the reins right now and I wouldn’t have to worry about him taking off or going the wrong direction, we were connected mind, body, and soul.

When I felt him start to slow down to a walk I opened my eyes and looked around. He brought us to one of his favorite places, the waterfall. The water was cascading down the rocks into the white foam at it’s base. Sometimes Santiago would get close enough to the cave behind the waterfall that we could feel the spray coming off of it. I tried leading him over to it this time but when we got close he reared up and I wasn’t ready for it so of course I ended up on the ground.

I felt Santiago’s breath on my face and then he started to nudge my cheek. “Sorry boy, I shouldn’t have tried to force you,” I said rubbing his forehead.

“Fall off?” an annoying voice asked from behind me. Of course I knew who it was, I mean who else could it be?

“No, I just like lying here,” I replied sarcastically. I hated when he saw me make a mistake because then he would use it against me later.

“Well at least your horse there stays next to you and doesn’t run off,” he replied.

“Yes Jake, because unlike some people I actually care about my horse and we actually have a relationship,” I snapped. He never took care of his horse, Midnight, he would always depend on the stable hands claiming it was their job to do it.

“Need help?” he asked closer now.

“No I can get up perfectly fine,” I replied rolling out from Santiago’s nose and standing up. I started to brush myself off and then I felt Santiago put his head over my shoulder. I started to rub his forehead absentmindedly as Jake came up beside us pulling Midnight behind him.

“So, uh, you want to ride together?” he asked gesturing towards the trail.

“No thanks, we ride solo on the trails.” I got my foot in the stirrup and hoisted myself off, and then Santiago took off and we left Jake behind in a trail of dust.

“The nerve of that guy,” I muttered and Santiago snorted in agreement. “I mean seriously, first he acts like a complete jerk to me and then he turns around and starts to be nice? What am I only good enough to hang out with him when people aren’t around us?”

Santiago snorted again and I started to pet his mane. He really was a pretty little Arabian horse.

“Athena wait up,” I heard Jake call from behind us.

“I thought I said I didn’t want to ride with you,” I called back and then we took off again only this time following the trails we explored together and no one else knew about them. We jumped over small creeks and up some rocks until we reached an unfamiliar clearing in the trees. “Hey, do you know where we are?”

Santiago shook his head backing up nervously and looking around himself. I started to scan the trees to make sure he didn’t see any other wild animals especially a mountain lion or a bear. Something in the bushes started to move and I strained my eyes to see what it was. Something jumped out of the bush and I screamed while Santiago took off running. I was trying to get him to go the way we came but he was too spooked and we were just running through the trees. I could feel scratch after scratch appear as I hit the tree branches at top speed. I was hoping that Santiago wouldn’t trip and fall because that could be fatal, for both of us.

“Santiago slow down boy, it’s ok, I’m here,” I said rubbing his neck trying to calm him down even though I was freaking out too. “I think we’re even more lost now,” I whispered looking around us. There was a bird calling from somewhere far away and then the answering call from a little ways behind us. Santiago’s ears were turning every which way picking up sounds only he could hear.

“What is it boy, what do you hear?” His ears kept flicking back and forth, completely ignoring me. I heard a growl from behind us and I turned quickly to see a bear coming between the trees. I tried to keep my breathing even as I nudged Santiago to start moving so we could get away before the bear attacked. The bear just sat there looking at us somewhat questioningly and I continued to nudge Santiago begging him to move. Finally we took off running into the trees and I could hear the bear make an angry growl but I couldn’t hear if he was following us.

Santiago started to speed up so I was guessing the bear was following after us. I searched through my mind trying to remember how fast a bear could run and then Santiago tripped and we started to roll down a hill. By the time we hit the bottom I jumped up and started to feel Santiago’s body noticing when he jerked away or flinched. I had to make sure he didn’t break anything before I even thought about checking myself. I listened carefully for any signs of the bear still coming after us and as I ran my hand along Santiago’s right leg, he pulled away and started to cry out in pain. I knew then that things weren’t going to be good.

I willed myself not to cry as I tried helping Santiago to his feet. He eventually got up but he was holding his right hoof off the ground trying not to put weight on it. Tears started to blur my vision and I grabbed Santiago’s reins and started to pull him along. An hour went by and we hadn’t made any progress finding out where we were. I sat down on a rock trying to give Santiago a break and he lay down next to me. The tears were falling feely now, I didn’t know if he would make it.

“It’s ok, we’re going to be ok,” I whispered over and over again while I rubbed up and down his neck. My tears were staining his glossy coat and even though I tried hard to stop crying I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bear the thought of putting him down. He was my best friend, my confidant, I loved him so much. “Please, please, please,” I sobbed over and over again still rubbing his neck.

I buried my head into his shoulder and then I notice his ears pricking up. If it was the bear then I would be glad, the chances of Santiago surviving this were slim and if he was going down, I was going with him. Of course, luck was never on my side.

“Athena, Athena where are you,” I heard voices calling from a distance. I tried to call back but my throat was all chocked up and all that came out was a sob. Someone stumbled out of the trees and started to run towards us relieved.

“I thought you were dead,” Jake said slightly joking and then his face fell, “What’s wrong with Santiago.”

“He—he—fell,” I sobbed out and then I felt arms around me.

“Shh, it will be ok, we’ll get him to a vet,” he soothed.

“No it will not be ok,” I snapped angry now. My voice started to rise as I continued, “This is all your fault, if you wouldn’t have stalked me and tried to follow us, none of this would have happened. I hate you,” I said screaming out the last part.

“Athena you can’t be serious, I didn’t do anything,” he replied.

“You killed my horse,” I screamed. Suddenly I had the urge to punch him right on the jaw, but before I got the chance more people started coming through the trees.

“Call for a trailer,” I heard one person say and then they all came running up.

“We heard you screaming,” Sam said coming up to me.

“Santiago is hurt,” I said tears running down my face again, I thought I ran out of them when Jake showed up.

“We’ve got a trailer on the way and Mrs. Violet is here to look over him.” He replied and Mrs. Violet stepped over to Santiago and started to feel his leg.

“It looks like a bad fracture,” she said solemnly.

“What’s going to happen to him?” I whispered.

“We, well, we might have to put him down,” she replied.

“Oh,” I whispered, and then I fainted.

******

“Athena wake up,” someone said and I opened my eyes slowly.

Jake was staring down at me and as I looked around I found we were in the hay loft and I was lying down.

“Wow, I just had the craziest dream,” I said.

“Really, about what?” he asked smiling a little.

“Well you were stalking me, and Santiago and I took off running and there was a bear, and then Santiago tripped and we rolled down a hill and then Mrs. Violet said that he fractured his right ankle and—.” He cut me off, “No that was all real.”

“What?” I whispered dreading the answer.

“Athena, I’m sorry but, that all happened,” he replied looking right into my eyes.

“No, no it didn’t, it couldn’t have,” I said shaking my head in denial.

“It did,” he said nodding his head sympathetically.

“No! You’re just a jerk who’s playing a really cruel joke,” I replied and then I took off running. I was going to prove that Santiago was ok.

I skid to a halt in front of his stall and I poked my head in, “Where’s my horse?”

“At the vet clinic,” Jake said coming up behind me.

“Why?” I asked confused, he didn’t need a checkup for another month.

“Athena I told you, he fractured his right ankle.”

“Stop lying,” I screeched and then I took off running as fast as I could to the vet clinic. It was about five miles away and I ran the whole way there without breaking stride. I went straight up to the front desk and started banging on the bell that was there.

“Yes?” an irritated voice asked poking their head from one of the examination rooms.

“Mrs. Violet, where’s my horse, where is Santiago,” I asked frantically. I had to prove to Jake and myself that Santiago was ok.

“He’s out back,” she said sympathetically.

I took off running again and then I saw him lying on the ground in one of the corrals. “Santiago, here boy,” I called. He didn’t get up he just lifted his head in acknowledgement and then lay back down. I jumped the fence and ran over to him pulling his head into my lap.

“It wasn’t a dream,” I whispered and then tears started to fall down my face. I felt a hand rest on my shoulder and I looked up to see my dad’s sad face looking down at me. “Dad, I can’t do it, I can’t kill my best friend, he saved me.”

“I know sweetie, I know,” he whispered and then he too sat down and started stroking Santiago.

“It’s time,” my mom said coming up behind us.

“For what?” I asked slightly panicked.

“Honey, we have to do it, it’s not right to keep him alive in his condition.”

“No,” I whispered.

“Athena, we have to,” she replied sternly.

“I won’t let you,” I screamed back and then I started to sob into Santiago’s mane. Mrs. Violet started to walk up with the needle in her hand and I sat there and sobbed for my best friend begging for a miracle.

“Good bye,” I whispered.

***

3 months later

I sat on top of the fence looking out into the pasture. We had a lot of land now that we moved from our suburban home out into the country. The grass was swaying as the wind blew across it. It looked like a scene out of a western film, the only thing that would make it perfect is—.

I whistled long and loud until I could distantly hear an answering call. I sat and waited for a while until I could see his head coming up over the hill. I whistled again and he tossed his head letting out a whinny and galloping at top speed towards me. He put his forehead against mine and I started to stroke his neck.

“I love you Santiago,” I whispered and he snorted back in agreement.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

ashley_y27 said...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 11:28 pm
Not Cool Dude, What did I ever do to you? I would understand if you commented on my story saying that the story was horrible or offering some sort of criticism of my writing but what was the purpose of your comment? To tell me that vampire stories are bad? Please tell me what that has to do with a story about horses because somehow I cannot see the connection. It seems to me that if you want to run around putting people down on the Internet because you need some outlet for some misguided anger ... (more »)
 
Kaitlyn said...
Apr. 24, 2009 at 8:55 pm
This is really GREAT!! But poor poor Jake, he was just trying to help Naw I'm just kidding he is a freaky stalker kid!!! But anyways....Awesome story!!!:D
 
Not cool dude, replied...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 11:02 pm
stalker is a bad word. No one reads vampire stories. THey suck! People who read them suck
 
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