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Stay or Run Away?
I fiddled with the sleeve of my Tampa Bay shirt while small puffs of gravel were kicked up by my sneakers. The road was silent except for the dusty-dry dirt that was kicked up by two pairs of feet as they walked along the well-worn road.
'You don't need to worry about cars here,' Elaina said as she walked beside me. 'It's real quiet down here.'
'So, people really own horses down here?' my eyes lit up. We were both walking down the street, well, if you could even call the dirt path a street, because Elaina told me there were horses at the end of the road.
I'm one of those girls that had a room full of glossy-eyed horses that stare at you from pictures plastered to the wall as you enter. In short, I'm horse-crazy. My mare Bella isn't really even mine, although it's my dream to someday have one to call my own.
'Yup. Look,' Elaina pointed her pale finger at a brunette, maybe a year younger than myself, swapping between a trot and a canter inside a small grassy arena. She was all dressed in casual English wear atop a small, sturdy little palomino. My insides filled with envy.
'Can we head back to your house now?' I asked, tapping Elaina's shoulder. She fiddled with her pale brown ponytail and nodded.
'See? There's a woman riding a horse over there.'
As Elaina pointed, my gaze shifted over to a steady, rocking clip-clop, coming from an enormous bay gelding. Holding the western reins delicately in one hand, a middle-aged woman with pale blonde hair gave us a smile and a little wave as we passed her by.
I couldn't help but gawk at the horse, plodding silently on with his sleek dark eyes rather dull and expressionless. I wondered what was running through his mind, but before I had the chance to think, Elaina pulled my arm back down the road.
'C'mon, let's get back.'
As we picked our way through the holes in the parched clay, I asked Elaina if there were any updates on her boarding school situation.
'Yeah, well, I've been accepted to Tallulah Falls in Georgia.'
'Tallulah Falls? What happened to Asheville?'
'Haven't heard back from them yet. I'll decide between the two,' Elaina shrugged one shoulder. 'But I know I'm going.'
'Why do you have to go away for high school?' I moaned for the millionth time. 'Who am I going to talk to at H.?' H. High was the local public school. From the road, actually, we could see the stadium lights peeking over treetops.
'Because,' Elaina kicked the road, spending up a spray of cloudy dust. 'I'm so sick of this stupid little town. There's nothing to do here. The only good thing is the mall, and they're closing that down too!'
'Well, you've lived here since you were born, haven't you?'
'Yeah, and now I want to get out of here. There's no more adventures for me.'
As we turned down the road and onto a shaded path leading up to Elaina's five-acre farm, her words tumbled over and over again in my memory. There really wasn't much to do in O. The only thing that really did arouse my interest was going to see Bella. But that was only on Saturdays.
There's no more adventures for me, I couldn't say I didn't agree. Elaina disliked horses, unlike the way I adored them. To be quite honest, we couldn't be much more different. Elaina was very outgoing and confident, while I was rather shy sometimes. Elaina always seemed to overpower me; not that I disliked it.
Later that night, I sat outside and felt the cool evening air rush past me as I teetered back and forth on my swing. Bullfrogs croaked on the lake, black silhouettes of trees were backdropped by a red sky and a fast-waning sun.
Maybe O. had run out of adventures for me. My mind floated over to Bella. I had only been riding her for about six months, but the black beauty was a magnificent horse. If I had had one that was all mine and not my riding instructor's, maybe I would find a reason to stay in Oviedo in years to come.
My mind was never here. It was far, far away, in books or in writing. I loved to write. I had to write. If I couldn't write, I'd probably go crazy. Maybe this small-town world was driving me crazy too. Stuck in the suburbs.
'When I graduate from college, I'm gone,' I said aloud to myself. Nobody else was outside when the sun was so far gone. 'I'll go find my own adventure. Maybe I'll see California like I've always wanted.'
Yeah. Maybe I'll go find myself a nice house out by the beautiful country, like the Georgia mountains we visited every year. I could have horses too, and write my novels for all to read. And dogs. I'd always loved dogs. I could give lessons and teach girls to ride so their imaginations could spark and run wild with the horses. Just like me.
Smiling, I leaped off my swing and landed in the grass like a frog, running back up my lawn to the screen door. It was good enough for tonight.