A story that I'm working on about a girl and her horse at a boarding school.
|Muscles bunching and releasing. Freedom, space. A fast approaching fence. Thundering hooves over close-cropped spring grass. A close relationship between horse and human. A squeeze of her legs around his barrel. Faster. A headlong gallop along the fence. A freedom of everything except the feeling of running. A sense of nothing except the two beings, flowing into one. Neither saddle nor bridle kept them apart. Trust. Full trust in each other.
Hair flowing back, mingling together until it was impossible to tell which was equine and which was human. The color matched almost exactly, the former being just a bit darker than the other. The two leaned toward the middle of the paddock as they flew around the corner, one mind knowing which way to go. They reveled in their unspoken chemistry and wished that the time could stand still.
The girl on the back of the horse threw back her head and laughed, leaning effortlessly forward into a two-point position as she urged the horse faster. By the time that they reached the end of the pasture, the girl was barely even touching the horse’s back. She turned with him and they kept galloping down the other side of the pasture. She loved the fact that she could turn him in a tight circle just by putting pressure on that leg. She sighed, sitting deep as they slowed to a trot and came up to the gate. She dropped down to the ground and ran a hand over his creamy coat as she went to his head and gave him a hug.
“I’ll be back sixth block.” She told him, kissing his muzzle before slipping out of the paddock.
As she walked away from the pasture, the horse whinnied. She turned and blew him a kiss, laughing at him as she did so. She went on up the hill and walked into the stable to see who else was around, put her helmet back where it was supposed to be, and then continued up to the rest of the campus. She had just this past week arrived on the campus of the St. Mary’s boarding school for Equestrian Athletes and she could barely contain her excitement. They had the world’s largest Equine program. She had to have the best if she was going to get to the Olympics in two years. Which, of course, she was. Who else had trained an Olympic-level show-jumper by the time that they were in the 10th grade? Needless to say, she had. She had trained Thunder since he was a newborn colt, which was why she could ride him without using a saddle or bridle of any kind. She could even take him over a full course of jumps without any assistance from man-made tools. All that they needed was their own being.
Kris walked into her first class, and smiled as she saw that everyone else in the whole room, including the teachers, was wearing either breeches and showboots with polo shirts or jeans with flannel shirts and cowboy boots. She knew that she was going to fit in here. Everyone thought the same way about horses, for the most part. It was the most amazing thing in the world to be able to connect to a horse and to be a team, a way for people to gain wings and fly.
She walked over to an empty desk and sat down, looking through her backpack for the notebook she had gotten for this class. She was just pulling it out when a guy sat down in the desk next to her. The first thing that she noticed about him was that his eyes were that color gray that looks like storm clouds right before it started raining, and that his hair was shaggy and fell over his forehead as if he hadn’t brushed it that morning. The next thing that she noticed was that he was overly muscular. Of course, everyone that rode, just about, if they were competitive at all, was muscular to a degree. But you didn’t get enough of a workout with just riding. He probably worked out in the gym a few times a week.
“How’s it going? I’m Ian.” He said, smiling at her.
She looked up at him, smiling back. “It’s going. I’m-” She started when the teacher interrupted her by clearing his throat. She shot Ian an apologetic look before turning her attention to the front and the teacher. She needed to focus on her classes if she was going to spend all her free time down at the barn.
“We have a new student, class. Please welcome Kris. She just got in last week, and this is her first day of classes. It would be nice if you would help her find her classes and so on.” He told the students who were settling into seats around the room. Kris ducked her head, wishing that he hadn’t said that. Now everyone was looking back at her. She blushed, and occupied herself with finding a pen in her backpack. When she had found one, she looked back at the teacher, and was happy to see that he’d begun his lesson on a book that she’d never heard of. She looked over at Ian, and smiled to see that he was scribbling furiously on a piece of notebook paper. She was glad to see that he would be focusing on the lesson, not on asking her tons of questions. The smile faded, however, when the paper he was writing on was thrust at her across the isle.
‘What school did you come from? Was it hard to get all your schoolwork done and get to ride? I’ve always found that to be one of my biggest problems.’ Ian had scribbled on a scrap piece of paper.
She sighed and started to scribble, listening more to the teacher than paying attention to what she was writing. She wrote something close to ‘I’ll talk later, but I need to figure out what Mr. Johnson is saying at the moment. Sorry.’ She passed the note quickly back over to Ian and then went back to taking notes on the book that the teacher was talking about. She made a mental note to go by the bookstore and pick it up so she could catch up, then stopped thinking and just took notes for the rest of the class.
When the bell rang, Kris put her notebook and pen back into her backpack and looked at her schedule. It read ‘2nd block: Algebra 2, Room 207 A.’ She looked from the schedule to the map, then sighed and looked over at Ian.
“Hey, Ian. Would you mind telling me where I could find room 207?” She asked with a slight smile. She felt bad for having to ask when she had a map to the school, but it just confused her to try and follow it.
“Sure. Actually, I can do better than tell you. I’ve got Mrs. Woods next block, too. That’s who teaches Algebra 2. She’s pretty cool.” He answered with a smile. “Follow me.” He told her as he stood and walked out of the room and towards the stairwell. Kris had no choice, really, but to follow.
“So, can you talk now?” Ian asked playfully when she had caught up with him on the stairs. “By the way, sorry about that back there. I hate English with a passion, and I didn’t even understand the book. I get so bored in that class.” He explained, shrugging sheepishly.
“I guess I can…” Kris replied with a straight face, but she couldn’t keep it. She broke down and started laughing within a minute. “To answer your questions, I went to a public school out in the country. Nobody cared about the work, and so there was never any homework….Which is why I had the time to go see my horse every day for at least three hours.” She smiled at the thought of her horse. “Do you have your own horse?” She asked curiously, keeping pace with him easily. He smiled over at her before answering.
He chuckled a little at her comment about how much time she spent with her horse. “Yeah, sounds about like the school that I used to go to. Then the school before that, we had about 4 hours of homework every day.” He told her. “I have a horse, she’s waiting for me down at the barn. I’ll get to see her in four blocks. My sixth block is an Equitation and Jumping class. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. My girl Jenna and I are learning a lot in there.” He bowed slightly and gestured with his hand, showing her the door of their next class.
“Hold on, you have Equitation and Jumping sixth block too?” She asked him, a bit surprised. He was wearing jeans, full chaps, cowboy boots, and a long-sleeve button down shirt. He looked as if he was a full-out rodeo guy. “I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but there’s no way that you ride english in those chaps. I’ve tried it and it’s just uncomfortable.” She laughed at the memory of that very unusual lesson at her old barn. She would never again ride an english lesson in western gear.
Ian laughed, sitting down in a seat near the back of the class and getting a binder labeled ‘Algebra 2’ from his bag. “Yeah, I have Equitation and Jumping sixth block after Reining and Western Patterns fifth block. I took as many equestrian classes as they would let me. Needless to say, Jenna and I both have changes of clothes in the barn. My breeches, showboots, and polo shirts are in my locker.” He laughed again before looking toward the front of the class, where the teacher had just walked in. He waved casually and settled down to take notes.
Kris pulled out a binder almost exactly the same as Ian’s which had some notes from the class she had taken at her old school. She had started taking the Algebra 2 class expecting to have to work to keep up. The problem was that the class had gone so slow that she had been better off teaching herself. She had ended up going to the teacher and telling him that she wanted to work independently of the class. The bell rang as the teacher walked to the front of the room. Kris waited for the introduction that she knew was coming.
“Class, we have a new student. Her name is Kris, and she just got here. If you know of any tips for newcomers, please enlighten her.” She smiled out at Kris. “Now, why don’t you stand up and tell the class a little about yourself?” She asked, stepping aside and waiting for her to take over for a few minutes.
Kris sighed as she stood and walked to the front of the class. This was why she hated switching schools in the middle of the year. She looked out at Ian, making sure to not look at anyone else. If she did, then she knew that she would freeze up. “OK, well, as Mrs. Woods said, my name’s Kris. I convinced my parents to let me come here because of the equestrian program, like most of you probably did.” She smiled shyly out at the class. “I’ve wanted to come here for two years now, but my parents didn’t see why I needed to come. They said that I spent enough time with my horse, Thunder, as it was without having him at school with me. I finally convinced them that if we were going to get to go to the Olympics that I needed the best trainers for both myself and Thunder.” She paused to take a deep breath, then continued.
“Thunder was my eighth birthday present. He was born on the same day that I was, and so my parents said that I could have him if I wanted him. So, that’s pretty much it. I guess it was more about Thunder than me, but I don’t really have much to say about myself.” She said, then retreated to her seat beside Ian.
“That’s pretty cool that you have the same birthday as Thunder.” Ian said, giving her a reassuring smile before starting to copy down the notes that Ms. Woods was putting up on the overhead.
Kris smiled back at him, glad that she knew at least one person in the class. “Yeah, we always had a birthday party for both of us at home. Thunder even got his own cake!” She laughed as she opened her binder and started copying the notes.