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Stuck

By , Novi, MI
Titus worked his gloved hands around the scorched metal, bending and twisting and molding. The horseshoe began to take form, its slivery gleam shined through the ashen smoke. The fiery forge engulfed Titus in heat and sweat poured down his back, soaking his torn and ratty shirt. The roar from the burning fire drowned out the twittering birds and the shuffling sound of feet on the boardwalk. The town of Stoney Creek was just miles from Salinas, California. It consisted of an old general store, livery, Titus’s forge, a sheriffs office, and a post office. The town was small and stagnant, and without many inhabitants.
Titus had dark skin, wavy hair, and eyes pitch black like a foggy night without the moon. His strong jaw line was pronounced, and the breadth of his shoulders filled doorways. The stubborn line of his mouth complemented the furrow in his brow giving him a menacing look. Titus saw a shadow cross over the door and looked up from the forge to see a peculiar looking man in worn and dusty breeches. Behind him was a magnificent dapple-gray mare with bright wild eyes. She nervously stamped her hooves and tossed her mane. The mare favored her back right leg and a horseshoe was absent. “She threw a shoe earlier today,” the man said gruffly. Silently, Titus took the reluctant mare by her reins and led her to a small box stall. Quickly, Titus went to work, replacing the thrown shoe with a sturdy new one. While he labored over the shoe, the man eagerly told him about his journey to northern California where another gold vein was discovered. After the last nail was in place, he was handed five silver coins and a satisfied thank you from the older man. The excited owner led the mare outside, mounted, and left the town of Stoney Creek in a trail of swirling dust.

Titus stood outside, staring out at the receding figure in the distance. As he contemplated the man’s decision, he looked around his meager forge. The shingles were torn off and jagged, and the ancient wood was mottled and worn like an old mans leathery skin. The rocks surrounding the blazing forge were chipped and blackened with smoke and the tiny box stalls were deteriorating from the countless horses who had gnawed on the wood before. Several racks of different sizes of horseshoes were located in a dark corner of the forge; their metal dull with lack of light.

Envy bubbled up and anger burned within him. He as well would like to pack up and leave as easily as that man had. Titus weighed his options. He could leave his little blacksmith business with a humble amount of money in his pocket and hope to strike it rich. He could also stay here for the rest of his life, trapped in a morose and monotonous routine. He had nothing to lose.

The morning sunrise seemed to lift from the earth and enflame the sky. Countless streaks of color struck the rich farmlands of California, evaporating the morning dew that clung to the grass desperately. The wind whispered through the land, rustling the young willowy branches of oak trees. Birds chirped furiously at the unwanted awakening and deer entered the light with copious caution. Titus leaned his head against the cool window pane in his cabin. He sighed heavily, stood up straight, and walked to the forge with deliberate, leaden steps.





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