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Carson. He was my very first horse. He taught me everything I needed to know - how to love, how to fight for everything you?ve ever wanted, and I have to give him credit for that. If I never knew him, then I wouldn?t know half the things that I do know. Now, I?ll share my story with you, just so you can get a taste of what TRUE friendship is.
Chapter one: A new Beginning
When I saw the brand new foal that Susan had showed me, I knew he would be special. Susan always bred the best foals. Susan was like my mother, because when I was little my parents died of a horrible accident, so Susan took me in. Anyway, the horse Susan bred was amazing. He was naughty, and that?s what I loved most about him. But the most special thing about him was that he was born on my birthday, which I will never forget, even to this day. The second his big brown eyes spotted me, so small behind that huge fence, he walked over to me. The soft grass all around us, and his mother just a few feet away. The sun shone through the trees, and landed on his spotted coat. Susan told me that he would be one of the camp horses, and that I would get a fair chance to ride him, just like everybody else.
Once Carson was old enough to be a camp horse, I couldn?t wait to try him out. All the other girls seemed to be buzzing with excitement, and they were all saying that they were going to ride the new horse, Carson. Some of these girls were better at riding than me, so I thought that maybe they would all get to ride him, instead of me.
The first girl was Natalie. She had long dirty blonde hair, and big brown eyes. She was pretty small, and timid too. Not a very good contestant for horses. Susan called over to her, and Natalie walked over to the middle of the dusty ring; her helmet on her head.
?Natalie, which horse to do want to ride?? Susan asked her.
?That one,? Natalie said, pointing to Carson. Somehow I knew that she?d pick him.
?Alright, I?ll bring him over, you get ready,? Susan told her. She walked over to where the horses were tied up on the hitching post. She unclipped Carson from his spot, and walked him over to the middle of the group.
Somehow, the way he walked made me feel all jumpy, like he?d start talking or something.
?This is Carson. He?s our newest horse,? she called out to the group of whispering girls, ?Now, you know the rules. You can pick out the horse you want, but you have to ride him first, just so I can get a good look at how you both move together, and if you don?t quite click, then we?ll just have to try a different horse.?
Natalie climbed aboard Carson, and the second she sat in the saddle, his ears went back and he flew her off. Everyone gasped, and Natalie looked shocked. This was Natalie?s first horse riding experience, and it wasn?t going too good. Carson had just bucked her off, and he had never done it to any of the ranch hands or Susan. Susan was the one who trained him! Every time I rode him, he was just perfect. What was up with him?
We went through the group of girls pretty quick, all of them choosing Carson, but then being bucked off minutes later. I got to be last, so I walked over to Susan, and told her that I wanted to ride Carson. She had a doubtful look on her face when I started to climb aboard him. But I was determined, so once I was ready, I started to walk him, and Carson went all the way around the ring, perfectly. No problems at all. I didn?t dare look over at the group of girls who I could hear whispering. After my ride was done, I climbed off and looked at the group. They all stared at me, shocked.
?Well, I guess that settles that,? Susan said. That was the only noise we could hear. I walked back over to the bleachers to sit with the other girls, who had moved away once I sat down.
?Alright, so now we all get to know what horse we will be riding for this month of camp. Natalie, you will be riding Butterfly,? Susan announced to the group. Butterfly was the easiest horse at the camp. She went through the group, and once she got to my name, I held my breath, ?Our last camper, Lillie, will be riding Carson. Congratulations to all. Now, you can all head over to the main house for the rest of the rules and for our dinner.?
That moment was the best moment of my life. I had beat the odds, and now I got to ride the horse of my dreams for a whole month, wow. I knew that I would be riding him more than that, but I was never prepared for what had happened next.
Chapter two: Carson gets sick
That had happened about a year ago. But now, I wish I could go back in time.
?Is he getting any better?? I asked. Carson had caught something, and the vets couldn?t figure out what it was.
?No Lillie, I?m sorry. The vets haven?t found out what?s wrong with him?but they suggest that we put him out of his misery,? Susan told me, sadly.
?WHAT? No, you cant!? I screamed at her, which is something I never do.
?Lillie, he?s suffering. He might die anyway,?
?He?s stronger than this! I know him, don?t you tell me that he?s not! He?s stronger than this?please don?t put him down! They have to try harder! Remember the time he broke his leg? You told me that he wouldn?t make it and he did!? I was crying now. I couldn?t imagine them putting him down. My life had been wrapped around his, but they couldn?t take him away from me!
I could feel Susan sitting on the couch next to me. She wrapped her arms around me, and let me cry into her lap. She patted my pale, brown hair. It was raining outside, just little sprinkles, so I wasn?t too worried that if I had to run away, I could at least stay dry; for the most part.
Once I was done crying, she took me down to the barn, so I could say my last goodbyes. But as I was walking, I remembered something. Something my parents told me.
?Lillie, this kind of flower here has great healing purposes. If you get lost in the woods, remember about this flower,? My mother, Rachel, had told me before they died. I had been so little then, but I knew what I had to do. I had to go and find that flower. It looked like a little pink rose, with white dots on it. I remembered it growing somewhere in our woods, so now I just had to fine it.
I broke away from Susan, ?Susan, don?t put him down just yet. I have a plan, one last thing to try.?
?Lillie, what are you going to do??
?My mother told me about this plant that can help save lives, so I?m going to try it on Carson. If it doesn?t work, then you can put him down. Trust me.?
Then I took off down the path that lead towards the flower patch. It had started to pour, and the wind was picking up. By the time I found the flower patch, I was soaked, and cold. The flowers were buried in the mud, so I dug for them. Who cares if I catch pneumonia, as long as Carson was safe, that?s all I cared about.
Once I finally got three flowers up, my whole body was muddy. I was soaked, and cold. I grabbed the flowers and ran. When I saw the barn, I ran as fast as I could through the front door and to Carson?s stall.
?How is he?? I asked.
?He?s not getting any better, but we?re trying,? One of the vets answered me.
?Well, could you try this? These flowers are supposed to help the body fight off sickness. My mother told me so, well, before she died,? I was really hoping he would try it, but I couldn?t be sure.
?It wont do any good, sweetie. We don?t know if those flowers are poisonous to horses, and we don?t really want to risk it, I?m sorry.?
?Well, if they are, he would die, and you said that he?s going to die anyway, so what?s wrong with trying it? If I?m right then we would?ve saved his life,?
?Susan? What do you think? He?s your horse,? The words stung like a thousand bees, but I knew that it was true.
?Well?? She looked at me, then sighed, ?Yeah, give it a try, it may work.?
?Alright. If it doesn?t work, should we put him down??
?No. Don?t put him down just yet, not until I tell you too, please,?
I knew I could count on Susan.
I fell asleep in the barn that night, and I remembered Susan bringing me back into the house and tucking me into my bed. When I woke up, I remembered about Carson, so I got dressed and went downstairs.
?Morning Susan,? I yawned, boy, I was tired.
?Good morning Lillie,? She paused, ?You cant go into the barn today. The vets said that nobody is allowed in, because the outside germs might interfere. Why don?t you go down to the beach instead? It?s a nice day for a swim.?
I nodded, quite disappointed that I couldn?t go, but the beach was a perfect place to think.
Chapter three: The Wait
I walked down to the most deserted part of the beach. Nobody came down to this part of the beach, so it was quiet. The crash of the waves was soothing, so I had plenty of time to think. I could hear the seagulls chattering farther down.
What would I do if Carson did die? I couldn?t just find another horse to ride. He was perfect. No other horse could match him. But if he did die, I guess I would have to accept it. But I would never be truly happy.
?Oh God, why did you have to put me in this position? I mean, sure I yell at Susan sometimes, but I don?t think that I did anything wrong! Please, if you could save Carson, that would mean the world to me. He doesn?t deserve to die, and especially like this!? I spoke out loud to Him. At least He could do something about this.
?Well, we?ll try our best, I can tell you that,? I heard a voice, and I had never heard it before.
?God? Is that you?? I asked, astonished. Is this really happening?
?No. This is Rian. I?ve seen you around before. You live at the Cliffside Ranch right?? I turned to see a very cute blonde guy walking towards me. He was wearing swim trunks, and a t-shirt. He was tan, and he looked kind of familiar.
?Do I know you?? I asked, a little wary. Guys like him didn?t talk to girls like me.
?No, but I?m planning on working at the ranch this summer, as a summer job. I just got done speaking to Susan. She told me how upset you were, and I asked where I could find you, and she told me that you went here,? He stopped and looked around, then looked back at me, ?It?s nice here. How come I?ve never seen it before??
?Because nobody knows about it but me,? I stopped, then looked at the ground so he didn?t have to see me blush, ?But I guess that now you know. But why?d you come here? I mean, most guys stay away from me??
?Well, I figured you?d want some company?so I went out to find you,? He stopped again, then sat down next to me, ?And I wanted to get to know you. I don?t know why these guys stay away from you. They must be crazy.?
?Well, I was kind of lonely,? I didn?t know what to say, so I started to draw in the sand. I concentrated on drawing Carson, before he got all sick. I felt him watching me, and I could feel my face getting red.
?Wow, that?s good. You do that often?? He asked me, and he seemed pretty interested.
?Well, I get a lot of free time, seeing that we have no internet, and a little tiny TV that only shows fuzzy black and white shows?so I like to do this instead,? Gosh, how lame was that?
?Oh, that?s to bad. But what about friends? Do you have any that live nearby??
?Well, every year we have camp, but none of the girls like me because I can ride Carson, and none of them can,? I looked up at him, but he looked confused so I explained, ?He bucks off everyone but me, Susan, and the ranch hands. So they don?t like me that much.?
He was the type of guy I could open up to, so that?s exactly what I did. He opened up to me, and I opened up to him. He was like the best friend I?d always wanted, and now it was a dream come true.
?So, what do ranch hands do exactly?? Rian asked me.
?Well, Jake is the leader, so I?d go and ask him if you need any help. Ben and Eli are give good advice too, and so does Samantha and Becka,? I told him.
?If you know all their names, why aren?t they your friends??
?Well, they?re all seniors in high school, and I?m just an kid to them. So they don?t talk to me much either,?
?Well, they obviously have no taste,? He leaned in close, and I though he was going to kiss me, but why? I wasn?t pretty, and I had a pretty boring life, so why?d he choose me?
The kiss was soft, and it was full of meaning. He wrapped his arms around me, and then pulled away. I was too stunned to say anything, so I looked away. A second later, I heard something weird. It sounded like someone walking away, but it couldn?t be him could it? I turned around and he was still sitting next to me, looking at the sun. But what I did see was what shocked me the most.
I heard the familiar hoof beats before I saw the brown, speckled body walking towards me. I jumped up, and ran over to Carson, my miracle horse. Carson was really skinny, because he was sick, but he was strong enough to find me. Rian had followed me, and I was hugging Carson like he had just won a marathon, which in theory he did. He beat the odds, and I couldn?t have wished for anything more. I started to head back, with Rian walking right beside me, his hand intertwined with mine.
Chapter four: Recuperation
After that beach incident, Carson had to be put in the Recuperation Pasture. That is where a horse that comes back from a sickness, or injury recovers. Now, Carson never really liked to stay locked in a small pasture, so I don?t think that he was pleased when we had to put him in there, because he kept trying to jump the fence. Now besides the beach, this was my second favorite place, because I could think here, and most of the time I needed this time, because ever since the beach incident, (which was what I called it) I had to think about my feelings for Rian. Did he really like me? Was the kiss a real one? He opened up to me, so it must mean something! I couldn?t be sure. Guys were confusing.
Carson had moved over to where I was, blowing into my hair, making it more messy than normal. Suddenly, he leaped away into a bucking motion, and starting going crazy. After that, he laid down and looked over at me, like he was motioning me to hop on him, and go for a ride. I slid underneath the fence, and walked over to him, put my tiny sketch pad into my pocket, and got on slowly. I never really rode him bareback, but I thought maybe this could be the first time. I nudged him into a slow walk, and guided him over to the gate. As I was unlocking the gate, I saw a note, so I picked it up and opened it.
Meet me at the barn at 3:30.
Well, this had been something I hadn?t expected. Why hadn?t I noticed this before? I looked at my watch. It was two, so I had about an hour and a half. Plenty of time, so I trotted him out into the field, we took it slow at first, so I could get used to what it was like to ride bareback, with nothing but the mane to hold onto. It was pretty easy after I got used to it. I took us down the main path, the easiest one. He wanted to take it faster, so he broke into a canter. I could see the green of the trees blurring past us, the blue of the sky. I couldn?t help but to smile. I had my horse back - well, not my horse, but Susan?s horse.
We took off out of the woods, and into the wide, open field. This was another favorite of mine. Carson seemed to like it best too, because he always wanted to come here. There were hills all over, but right in the middle, there was a deep valley type thing. It looked like someone took a spoon and dug out part of the Earth. My favorite hill, which I named Sun Hill, had a weeping willow type tree on it, so you could sit in the shade on a hot summer day, and in the morning, you could watch the sun rise, and at night you could watch the sun set. It was always pretty here, with the long grass, and wild flowers. I loved the smell of the flowers, and the sweet scent of the grass.
I stopped Carson underneath the tree, so we could rest. I slid off his warm back, and onto the fuzzy ground. He started to graze on the grass, and I took out my sketch pad. I loved the way the sun was shining through the tree and landing on Carson. I started to draw him in that position, but he would move every 5 minutes, so it got kind of hard. But I never gave up, and in the end, the picture turned out pretty good.
I looked down into the valley, because sometimes you can see wild horses running around down there. That was were Carson was born, because the foaling pasture used to be down there, but the rain would cause it to flood, so now the foaling pasture was moved onto higher ground, and all that was left was the fencing. It looked so lonely, and sometimes that was how I felt, but not anymore. I had Carson, and possibly Rian. They were all I needed.
I was awoken from my daydream by Carson chewing on my hair. I hated when he did that, because it got my hair all slobbery. I stood up and stretched. I looked at my watch. It was 3:25!! I was going to be late! I hopped up onto Carson, and started to gallop off. At this rate, we might just make it to the barn on time, but then if we hurried, it would make Carson look all sweaty and someone would question that, so I slowed him down to a canter again. We could be a little late.
We rounded the bend, and headed into the forest. I slowed him to a trot, so we could enjoy the woods a little more. The sunlight seeped through the canopy top of the trees. It made the woods glow a happy glow. Everything in my life right now was perfect; Carson was alright, I had met Rian, and so far everything had stayed pretty normal. There was a log in the middle of the path, something that hadn?t been there before. Carson spotted it also, and started to go a little faster towards the log, and he cleared it.
?Good boy Carson,? I praised him, because everyone needs a boost every once in a while.
I could see the RP in the distance, so I cantered him there. Once we reached it, I slid off his back and started to walk. Carson followed me, just like he always does. As we neared the barn, I stopped to look into the water bucket on the ground. I didn?t normally check my appearance that much, but I thought that maybe Rian would like me better if I looked at least okay.
?Ugh?Carson, I?m glad you don?t care what I look like!? I teased. My hair was frizzy and windblown, and part of it was slimy. I walked through the doorway into the barn, and it was quiet and the lights were off. Did Rian stand me up? I looked at my watch, and it was 3:35. I was five minutes late, but did that make a difference? I could feel the tears stinging my eyes. I couldn?t believe that I thought that a guy like him would ever like a girl like me. I walked into the indoor arena, and the lights flashed on and I saw everyone.
?Surprise!? They all shouted. Had I missed something?
?Uhh?what?s the surprise?? I asked. I was so shocked, because my mouth was hanging open, and I could feel my face getting redder and redder. Clearly something was up. Susan walked over to me and gave me a hug.
?Lillie, the barn staff and I thought about it, and we decided that since you saved Carson, you deserve him, which means that you own him, and no one else can ride him unless you let them,? She was smiling at me, and I didn?t know what to say.
?Uhh?this is soo unexpected. I don?t know what to say,? Had they really given me Carson? Or was this a dream? Did I fall asleep in the field and I?m just about to wake up? Rian walked over to me.
?Congrats, beautiful,? He gave me a hug.
?Thanks everyone, this means so much to me,?
?Well, you deserved it. After everything you?ve been through, you deserve him. You were the one that saved his life, so this is the least we can do,? Susan told me. She was always so generous. This was the best day of my life, or so I thought.
Chapter five: First ride
The next morning, I woke up to a gentle rain outside. Everything seemed so perfect. I slowly got out of bed, and walked over to my window. The sun was just coming up, and the rain made everything sparkle. I got dressed into my barn clothes, and slipped out of the house - quietly. I didn?t want anyone to spoil this moment.
The only noise I could hear, was the crunch of the gravel underneath my feet, and the birds who were just starting to wake up. I could feel the glow of the sun just rising above the hills in the distance, and the rustle of the leaves that the wind was gently moving. The rain had stopped falling, but it was still damp out. I walked over to the main pasture, to go catch Carson. As usual, he was waiting for me. I walked into the barn to go get his halter, and I stopped dead in my tracks.
The lights flicked on when I walked in, and I saw Rian leaning against the wall. He looked absolutely perfect. I faced Carson?s stall so Rian wouldn?t have to see me blush. As I was reaching for Carson?s green halter, my hand was pulled back.
?Why are you up so early, beautiful?? His voice was near my ear, his breath warm on my neck.
?I?uhh?thought that I would go for a ride today?? I stammered; unsure of where this was heading.
?It?s not safe for pretty girls like you to wander around in the woods - especially alone,? He let go of my hand and grabbed Carson?s halter before I could get it.
?What are you doing?? I asked, still frozen. I concentrated on the wood grains on the stall door, something that I do to calm me down.
?Go get Warrior?s halter,? He told me. Where was this heading?
?Okay?? I unfroze and turned around to go get Warriors blue halter, before I changed my mind. The fabric felt soft on my fingers, and I turned around to walk back over to Rian.
He took the halter from me, ?Thanks. Where?s Warrior?s other tack??
I pointed to the tack room, ?It?s over in the tack room. Top row under ?Warrior?.?
He walked over to get Warrior?s tack, while I stood frozen on the spot. Many thoughts crowded my head. What was he doing? Stealing Warrior? What was up with all the question?
He was back before I expected, ?Go get Warrior.?
I did as I was told, and went out to get Warrior. The feisty mare had a jet black coat, and scars all over her face, with a lightning bolt face marking that completed the look. I took the prancing mare back to where Rian had the crossties ready, ?Here you go.?
He didn?t say anything, just tacked up Warrior. Once Warrior was ready, he turned to look at me. He studied me, and then handed me Carson?s halter, ?Now you may go get Carson.?
I through the barn door, and outside. The sun still wasn?t up yet, so it was still pretty chilly out. I walked over to where Carson was waiting, and brought him inside. I hooked him up to the crossties, and started to tack him up.
All of a sudden, I got this burst of bravery. I turned to Rian, ?Why did you tack up Warrior??
He didn?t even hesitate, ?I wanted to see how the best rider at the barn rode, and to maybe learn some of her secrets,? He winked at me.
I looked away and blushed. I unhooked Carson from his crossties, then stopped. I quickly took a piece of paper from Susan?s office, and wrote her a quick note, just so she wouldn?t get worried. Once the note was finished, I put it over by Carson?s stall, then grabbed Carson?s reins and walked him outside to the gate leading to the trails. I turned around and sure enough Rian was on his way with Warrior.
?Ready for this?? He asked, but I was way ahead of him.
We were walking down my favorite trail, which I named Deer Trail. I named everything, but this trail always had a lot of deer on it. We had just finished warming up, and now the fun began. This trail led to Jumping Trail; which was my other favorite. There were a ton of logs that were lined up in different spots, and you could practice jumping over them.
I brought Carson to a canter, and yelled over my shoulder, ?Catch me if you can!?
All I could hear were thundering hooves, which were right behind me. I glanced behind my shoulder, to see a flash of black pass me. Gosh, Warrior was fast!
We reached the first jump, and I jumped it first, and cleared it. Warrior may be a retired racehorse, but she sure wasn?t a jumper! I flew past some of the other jumps, and stopped at the end of the trail, so I could wait for Rian.
Sure enough, Rian came cantering through the woods, and we walked together towards Sun Hill. The sun was up now, and it was a good thing that we left Susan a note. We rode to Sun Hill, and dismounted. Warrior and Carson grazed, while Rian and I relaxed. This was just how I wanted to spend my day; along with Rian, and he was the first to speak.
?It?s so pretty up here,? He said, looking around.
?Yeah?this is where I spend most days,? I said. Boy, that sounded lame!
?There?s like no one around to bug you, and there?s no interruptions?it?s perfect here?? He looked at me again. I wondered what was going on in his mind.
But soon, I knew what he meant. It happened so fast, but somehow this time I was ready. As soon as he leaned it, I knew what he wanted. This kiss was more passionate then the first one. His hands were in my hair, and mine were in his. There were so many questions in my head. Was this supposed to feel so good? Am I his first? Am I his official girlfriend? This kiss didn?t last as long as I thought it would.
?Wow?? That was all he said. I was thinking the same thing.
?Was this what you wanted all along, then?? I asked him. Since when was I so brave?
?Well, part of it. I wanted to come along with you, because I can?t stay away from you. I don?t know why, but I feel pretty weird when I?m around you, like it was meant to be or something,? He said softly. I didn?t know guys could be so open with their feelings, because I always thought girls were the open ones and guys weren?t.
?Oh. So, I?m like?what?? I asked. I knew what he meant, I just wanted him to say it out loud, so it could ring in the valley, and be stuck into my head forever.
?You?re the prettiest girl I?ve ever met?and I want you to be with me forever. I know that sounds corny, but that?s how I feel,? He told me quietly.
I moved closer to him, ?Then you know exactly how I feel, then.? I put my head on his shoulder, and I slowly drifted off.
I woke up to see the horses sleeping on the ground, too. Rian and I must?ve fallen asleep, and I lifted my head up and a wave of pain hit me.
?Oww?what happened?? I asked, not really expecting an answer. I must?ve laid on my neck funny. It felt stiff, so I stood up and stretched. I looked around, and checked my watch.
?What time is it?? Rian asked. He got up and stood next to me.
?It?s 2:30, should we head back?? I asked. Susan must be wondering why I missed breakfast and lunch. Just as I expected, my stomach growled.
?Are you hungry?? Rian asked me.
?Yeah, I guess I missed breakfast and lunch?? My voice sounded weak.
?Alright, lets head back,? He said softly. We got the horses up, and walked them slowly back towards the woods. Then I remembered my shortcut. I turned Carson towards a small gap in the trees, and broke into a trot.
?Hey! Where are you going?? Rian called from behind me, ?The path is this way!?
?I?m taking a shortcut!? I shouted back. I hoped he followed me, but I wasn?t sure Warrior would want to go in this dark of the woods.
I was right in front of the gap when I stopped. I waited for Rian to head in to where I was, ?I don?t think Warrior will want to go into these woods, she?s never been this way before.?
?Well, we might as well try it. I mean, if she doesn?t go in there, then we can take the long way,? He said.
I walked Carson into the woods. He went easily, and I turned him around so we could see if Warrior would come. She looked at the entrance warily, and stomped her hoof. Carson snorted to her, and her ears pricked up and she looked at him. Carson snorted again, and she stepped into the entrance with no problem.
Shocked, I moved Carson forward, and we trekked through the shortcut, and we could barely see anything, until the trees started to become less thick, and we could see the RP. I trotted the rest of the way out, and then we were in the light again. I looked around, and I walked Carson to the gates. I dismounted, and walked him into the barn once more and got ready to untack, and my heart was soaring, and it felt like I walked on air, with every step I could take, and I knew, that this had officially been the best day of my life.
Chapter six: The Fight
I woke up to the sound of geese and birds singing in the early sunlight. Gosh, they were noisy. I got out of bed, and came to realize that I was very sore. I slowly pulled on my barn clothes, and walked downstairs, very stiff. I was about to walk into the kitchen, when I heard Susan talking to her husband, Dave. Dave was an older man, and he was balding, but he was always honest and sincere, and he was selfless. He always cared about everyone but himself.
?Well, I got an offer on him,? Susan spoke quietly.
?How much?? Dave asked her, using the same tone of voice.
?Four thousand, in cash,? Four thousand was a lot of money. What were they talking about?
?What are you going to do? Accept it? She?ll be heartbroken?? Dave spoke after a minute.
?I?m not sure, but we could use the money, but I?d hate to see what it would do to Lillie. She seems so happy these days,? They were talking about Carson. My Carson. The only horse in my world. My heart almost stopped beating, and I had to fight to catch my breath. No, they couldn?t!
I burst into the room, and stared at both of them. The tears burning in my eyes, and I just stared.
?Lillie! I didn?t know you were awake, would you like some breakfast?? Susan said, trying to cover up the fact that I had heard her conversation.
?I can?t believe you! How could you even think to sell Carson? I hate you! You hear me? I hate both of you! If you sell Carson I?m going to run away, and then you?ll wish you never DID sell him!? I screamed at their shocked faces. I ran out through the door, and out the backdoor. I couldn?t let them sell Carson! I walked over to the gate where he was, and called to him. He cantered over, not sure of what was happening, and I climbed onto him. I steered him into the woods, and took off. I didn?t even turn back once, but thinking about it now, I should?ve.
Chapter seven: Trouble
I woke up to the crickets, and the sound of a lonely owl. I sat up slowly, but was stopped by a horrible pain in my head and chest. What happened? I rubbed my head, and felt something warm. I looked at my hand and saw that it was dry blood. I tried to stand up, but my ankle wouldn?t cooperate. I looked around, then I was startled to hear my name being called.
?Lillie! Oh Lillie, we were looking all over for you! Are you alright?? Susan had a worried expression on her face.
?Uhh?my head and chest hurt, and my ankle might be sprained?? I stammered.
?Oh sweetie, I?m so sorry,? Susan said, apologetically.
?S-susan? What happened?? I finally thought to ask.
?You don?t remember? Well, here. Let me tell you,? She stopped, then took a deep breath, and then continued, ?After you found out that we had gotten an offer on Carson, you, well, exploded. I could understand how that felt to you, losing the horse you loved, but you took off. We couldn?t catch up to you, and you ran off into the woods. I sent Rian after you, and he was following you,? She stopped, and that?s when I figured out that Rian was right there next to me.
?Then, I followed you on Warrior. You were taking a really fast pace, but that?s when it started to get dark. I could see the storm clouds blowing in above us, and then Warrior stopped. She started looking up into the trees and snorting. She wouldn?t go any farther, and she kept pawing the ground. I looked ahead, and we had lost you through the small tree path, the one that leads into here, what?s this place called?? Rian was speaking quietly, but gently.
?Tree Arena,? I spoke, my voice cracking.
?Yeah, that?s it. Well, you were in here, so I tried to look into the here through the path, but I stopped when I saw it. It was grey, and it was the biggest thing I?ve ever seen. You were in there, and I just had to get off Warrior, and she seemed to read my mind, because she reared and it sent me flying. The thing - whatever it was - was gone, but Warrior flew off back toward the barn. That?s when I heard Carson neigh, it was terrifying, and it sounded like he saw a ghost. Then you screamed, and I felt a thump, and I ran into the clearing, but Carson was gone, like he vanished, only he went through the back entrance. I didn?t see where he went, all I cared about was you. I ran over to you and knelt by your side, and that?s when I saw it.
?It was HUGE! It was grey, and the yellow teeth were staring back at me, then looked over at you. It?s tail swished angrily, and it?s growl almost shook the trees. That?s when I realized what it was - it was a mountain lion. I stood up and shooed it away. It hissed at me, but then backed away, and I made sure it was gone, and I chased it farther away. That?s when I called for Susan,? Rian looked away from me, and at the ground. That?s when I looked around. We WERE in the arena, and I do remember running away. It was all coming back to me now.
Susan took a deep breath, then started talking again, ?I heard Warrior running back, and so I ran outside of the barn. She was all sweaty like she saw a ghost, and was panting. I looked around, and that?s when Rian came running from the trees. I ran over to him, and I was going to yell at him for leaving Warrior like this, when I got a good look at the expression on his face,? Susan looked down before continuing, ?and it wasn?t a good look. He told me that you fell off Carson. I almost didn?t believe him, but the look just gave me the chills. He filled me in on what happened, and now here we are.?
?B-but where?s Carson? Is he back in the barn?? I asked, nervously. They hadn?t mentioned Carson.
?Uhh?? They both looked at each other, before Rian replied, ?Um, we never did find Carson. He never came back from his run,? My heart sank again, but I was too tired and cold to yell, I just looked as angry as I could.
?So let me get this straight, you DIDN?T find Carson? All you did was look for ME?? I couldn?t believe it. This couldn?t be happening.
?Lillie, you could?ve been killed! What did you want me to do?? Rian looked upset - really upset.
?You could?ve ran after Carson instead of me,? I said, my voice higher than I meant.
?And what good would?ve that done? You could?ve been killed by those lions!? He stood up, looking really upset.
?Then you should?ve fed me to them, because if Carson?s dead, I?m dead. He can?t live without me, and I can?t live without him,? I said. I stood up also. Pain shot through my leg, but by then, I didn?t care anymore. I started to walk away, but then I turned around, ?If Carson?s dead, I?m NEVER going to forgive you. You hear me? Never. Again.? Then I took off running.
If you had seen the look on Rian?s face, you might?ve just about cried, that?s how sad it was. He looked like he?d seen his parents die, and he was just told that he has three days to live, and I could?ve sworn I saw a single tear, falling down his cheek, and that?s when the guilt set in. Why did it have to be this way? I ran towards the house, ripped open the door, stomped up the steps, and flew onto my bed, just so I could beat the tears, that were pouring out of me like they were in a race.
I was a terrible person. I had just thrown away the person that had liked me for me, and never gave up on me, no matter how stubborn I was, and what did I do? I told him that I loved a horse more than him, and that it was his fault Carson was missing.
I heard my door open, but I was too sad to care. I was sobbing now, and I didn?t even care who saw me. I felt their hand on my back, rubbing up and down, just trying to comfort me. It was soothing, and I was cold. So I moved closer to the person, and sobbed harder, but once the tears were gone, I sat up. I rubbed my eyes, and turned to look at the person.
The only thing I saw were those hazel eyes. They looked into my boring brown ones, and then instantly, I knew. He had come back.
?I?m sorry Rian? I-I don?t know what happened back there. I was just so upset?I?m sorry. You don?t deserve someone like me, and I don?t deserve someone as nice as you,? I stuttered.
?Lillie, I know you were upset, and I felt bad when you told me that, but I knew it was true. You and Carson are a team, and I guess I forgot that. But I will promise you that he will always be with you, and so will I,? He hugged me close, and I hugged him back. He slowly pulled away, and I looked into those familiar hazel eyes, and he looked into mine, and slowly he said, ?I think I love you??
I didn?t even hesitate. I knew how I felt, and now he was admitting what I had always dreamed of, ?I love you too,? I whispered, like we were the only ones in the world. We slowly got up, and walked to the door. I walked downstairs, and sat on the plaid couch. I waited and waited. I waited for the guy who was looking for Carson to come in and tell me that they found him and he was okay. But sometimes, waiting takes too long, and you start to think of all the negative things.
Like how he could?ve drown. He could?ve been eaten by those lions, or he could?ve been hit by a car, but whatever it was, I knew that he was okay, and that?s all I needed.
I was startled when the front door opened, and slowly walked in the guy I had picture to come in, and tell me that Carson was all right. I stood up and waited for his answer.
?Lillie, we found him,? His voice was so reassuring.
?Oh thanks. This is great. Where is he?? I asked.
?Lillie, Carson, he?s?? I didn?t even let the guy finish, because I had no more tears left to cry.
Chapter eight: Remembrance
I walked down the same gravel path that I used to walk with Carson. The birds were singing, and everything was peaceful. The sun was warming up the land, and the wind was blowing softly. I just walked out of the woods, and up to Sun Hill.
I leaned down, to the familiar ground, to touch the slab of rock that was laid there. It was Carson?s tombstone. I touched the smooth letters, one by one like I was reading a book. These past days had been rough, but I managed. I had locked myself into my room, and just cried, for days. But I recovered, not completely, but enough to still live life. This was the only alone time I could get, but I wasn?t completely alone. Carson?s spirit would always be with me, no matter what. No matter if everyone else in my life left me, Carson would always stay; forever.
The news? Well, to make things short, the guy told me that Carson didn?t make it. They found him over on the outside of the woods, right outside Tree Arena. They said that he died of shock, that he was so scared because of the lions, that he had collapsed. It was a horrible way to die, but it had no violence, which was how I wanted to go.
They buried him here, in our favorite place - somewhere I could always go, just to remember him. I?ll never forget what a wonderful horse he was. I looked down into the valley, the old foaling pasture. All that?s left are the same old rotting fences, but it still has memories. I remember looking over that fence, and seeing him just made me smile.
But what is that? I look closer into the valley, and see a little brown figure running around. The gate is open, but how did he get in there? I moved a little closer, and stood up. He looked over at me, and stopped. His ears rose up, and he started to walk out of the gates. Once he was out, he started to gallop over.
I didn?t know whether or not to be afraid, because when a foal runs at you, you should be cautious. The mother could be nearby, and that could be dangerous. It kept running, turning from a little foal, to a little bit bigger foal. It looked just like Carson, only in a foal form. The only thing that was different was the little lightning bolt on it?s head.
I ran towards it, and once we met, I hugged him, just to feel the soft fur beneath my hands, and the sweet smell in my nose. I hugged him, and then I heard a chuckle come from behind me.
?I thought you?d like him,? I turned around to see Susan emerge from the shadows.
?Susan? Whose horse is this?? I asked. I didn?t want to get bonded with him, if it turned out it wasn?t hers.
?He?s yours. Happy Birthday Lillie,? She spoke through the silence.
?What?! H-how did you?? I couldn?t finish.
?Well, it turns out that Carson had a son. No wonder Warrior had been getting all fat and crabby,? Susan laughed. I forgot what her laughed sounded like.
?So wait - this is CARSON?S son? Oh my gosh!? I was so shocked. Carson had a son, and I wouldn?t have to worry about never remembering what Carson looked like.
?Yes, see, my theory is that Carson knew he would be leaving someday, so I guess he didn?t want to leave you all alone like that, so he left you with this,? What Susan said was the most wonderful thing I had ever heard. I let her take Carson?s son back to the barn, while I thought for a minute.
I would never forget Carson, because he taught me to fight for the things you want, and that even good things have to go, but they open up even better things.
?I love you Carson, and I?ll NEVER forget you, no matter what, and?thanks. For everything,? I whispered, just so he could hear me, and I could almost hear his same exact nicker, the one that meant,
?I love you too,?