A Story placed in a horse stable.
Stormy weather by Apondia
Megan banged on her bedroom door. “Bea, I’m starting chores early.”
Bea rolled over to see the clock better. “Holy crow it’s only 4:30 a.m.” She shimmied out of bed and yelped when her feet hit the cold hardwood floor. Pulling on clothing at this time of morning was definite proof, that living with Megan could be a strain.
Bea dragged through the kitchen door stretching and yawning, Megan stood at the counter munching buttered toast.
“We are not changing the feeding schedule.”
“Last nights eleven news says there's a big snow storm gonna hit us.”
Bea started pulling her long hair back into a pony tail clip. “So what?”
“I want some snacks, movies, and a snow suit.”
Bea stared at Megan with an unreadable look. “You go, Neil will be here soon. We’ll do chores but, Puleeese! Take the list from the frig.”
Bea watched through the big picture window, as Megan departed in her Cherokee. Her thoughts faded to the first day Megan showed up.
Heat sliced over the area. She could still feel the sun beating on her sun screen coated cheeks. A new riding class of very young students,waited for her, in the arena, mounted on schooling ponies. She greeted each child individually, while checking pony girths, tightening straps on hard hats, moving little hands into proper place on the reins, and pushing little heels into position, in the stirrups. After class, Bea was talking to children, who were excited to have survived the first lesson.
Megan walked up. “ The little girl on the brown pony looked too small to even be on a pony, doesn’t she? I’m Megan, I was suppose to be here this morning, but I lost my ride.”
Time to get those morning chores worked on, she rinsed her tea cup, placing it in the sink. When Bea entered the barn, Megan’s horse, Bert, neighed to her. “Hi Bert, want some chow?” Bea entered the tack room and started dishing feed rations into buckets, that she set in a cart.
Neil ambled in, “Where’s Megan this morning?”
“She’s off on an early morning shopping trip to the DL&A Mall. News this morning says a storm is flying through here, starting early afternoon today.”
“I saw the Watch last night did they upgrade it?”
“Now its a big Warning!, high wind and lots of snow. Can you stay over? We may need the help if it lasts more that 48 hours.”
“Yeah, I’ll go bring the ponies into the stalls and feed them.”
“Good I’ve got the crew covered in here.”
Bea's thought processes always wandered and meshed with chore time. She wished she could pay Neil more, he was always helping beyond the call of duty. He showed up, when Bea advertised for someone to help with machinery. One day, Bea was changing a fuel filter on the tractor, Neil, walked into the garage. "Never saw a women do that kind of work. Heard you needed someone to work with the machines?"
Bea laughed. "Good, you do it." she handed him the filter and pointed at the toolbox. Neil's application listed mechanics for the military along with some references. He certainly is the quiet type sometimes he talks to the horses, but rarely says much around people. So far, Bea’s efforts to wiggle more information about his life were rebuffed, in a casual manner.
As she cleaned and filled water buckets she examined how she arrived at this place in her life.
After college she worked one year at a race track as a groom, then four years as assistant riding instructor. Next, came general assistant of everything, for other riding schools. Finally, her mother encouraged her to start out on her own. Mom even found the property, an abandoned riding school near her town, with lots of local interest in horses.
Megan's paying customer status exempted her from stable dirt work. But, she was happy to lend her hands to any work available at any time of day. Megan edged her way into every part of the stable work load until Bea offered her a share of the profit, a room in the house, and a permanent stall for Bert. The two women were good friends. But, it took hard work to keep the business solvent.
When morning chores ended, Bea called Megan’s cell phone. “Bring me a decent throw rug for the side of my bed.”
“I drove into the parking lot at 6:00. I’m still in shock because it was totally full of cars. There are people everywhere buying bottled water, packaged soup, and stuff to keep warm. One lady said school is out and they think the electricity will go down.”
“Is it going to be that bad? Get what supplies are on the list and get back here before the storm hits.”
Megan drove into the yard at mid morning, the wind was already picking up. She unloaded several boxes of extra food staples. “Don’t bitch OK? If we don’t need the extra supplies, we can use it up over the next few weeks. We just won’t have to buy groceries for awhile.”
Bea laughed all the way to the garage where Neil was checking out the plow for the tractor. “How is this going?” Neil looked up and grunted impatiently, “Pass me that bolt. The equipment is ready for what ever happens.” Bea, walked back to the house. A thought hit her, I guess I better cancel lessons!
The wind picked up as the day wore on and the snow came in fast enough to blot out the grey cloudy sky.
Bea's slippered feet were stretched out on a foot stool. Local TV coverage of the storm held her attention.
“Whump!” Wind from the storm forced the mud room door closed behind someone.
“Megan, come look at this!”
Neil was shrugging out of his coat, “Megan's still at the barn”
“Is she on her way in?” Bea stood up dumping the blanket on the floor.
“After she loads the mare. Looked like the rig was ready to roll when I walked by.”
“What rig?” Bea flew passed Neil brushing him backward. She grabbed a jacket and scarf off the hook, at the same time as she slid feet into tall insulated Muck Boots. In 5 seconds she was out the door, shoving her arms into the sleeves, while fighting the wind. Gusts whipped the jacket and whirling snow against her body.
A truck, lights blazing, pulling a two horse trailer, lumbered through the drifting snow. Bea bolted across the yard waving her arms diving into the path of the cumbersome vehicle. It slipped sideways, as the driver pumped the brakes, to miss her. Windshield wipers, heavy with ice, flashed away the wind driven, water heavy flakes, on the trucks covered windshield.
Bea was holding her breath as the rolling truck stopped, with its hood up against her outstretched palms. She felt the cold seize her sinuses and reach into her lungs, when she began to breathe. The metal felt like solid cold against her bare hands. Bea grabbed the scarf she had wound around her neck and tried to use it to cover her head and ears against the abrasive snow. Screaming to be heard over the wind, she approached the truck door. “What’s going on here?”
“What?” the angry driver rolled down the window part way.
“Unload, you are not taking this mare anywhere tonight!”
“We’re loaded,” He fumbled inside on the seat then waved a sheaf of paper work in Bea’s direction. “I have papers from Mrs Lekko. Wind grabbed the papers and bent them away from the window.
Bea grabbed for the papers just as the driver pulled them back inside, he dropped them and rubbed his cold hands together while blowing on them.
“No! Unload! The roads are closing you won’t get through.”
Megan trotted toward her from behind the van. Bea, turned to her, “Unload Goody! Put her back in the barn!"
Megan obeyed the command in Bea’s voice. She ran to the back of the trailer and started pulling open the clasps for the ramp.
The driver popped the clutch. “Nope. I’m out of here.” He started to roll up the window. The quick jerky movement caused him to hit the gas pedal with his foot. The vehicle lurched forward. The trailer slipped sideways and the ramp fell to the ground with a snow muffled crash.
Bea grabbed the door open and threw herself between his body and the steering wheel, pinning his arms and body against the seat. She grabbed the key and turned off the engine all in one motion.
“Hey, you can’t do that.” He struggled to push her off him. The struggle shoved Bea back out onto the driveway. She landed in the snow with a sharp scream. Covered in snow she dangled the keys clutched in one hand. “When the mare is unloaded you get your keys back. My advice! Don’t be stupid, stay with us tonight. We don’t mind putting you up.”
“Stupid, I’m stupid? Women afraid of a storm?”
She glared at him as she pulled the gloves from her pockets onto her hands and brushed snow off her legs and backside.
Bea turned at the sound of thumping hoofs on the ramp. A lull in the wind showed Megan turning Goody; trotting with her toward the barn. Bea walked back, struggled to close the ramp, and fastened the catches in place.
As she handed the keys through the window she tried to sound sincere, “I saw the local report on the news the roads are closing. The state police report says stay off the roads. Stay in doors. Stay here with us.”
“Not me. I’m going to call Eva Lekko. She’ll call the cops. You are in a whole lot of trouble.” His face was red and clenched. She saw him press a cell phone to his ear as the truck roared toward the road. The rig was slipping sideways as he hit the end of the drive. Snow flew as it turned onto the road. Within minutes, the tracks on the drive were all ready filling in, with snow driven by the wind.
Clumps of snow flew from their boots as Megan and Bea kicked them against the outside house wall, before they entered.
“What the heck was happening out there Bea?” Megan placed a booted foot into the boot jack and tugged to release her foot from the tall boot.
“I’ve been watching TV coverage on the weather channel. This storm reaches clear across the state. The interstate is closed and people are being warned to take shelter. The plows can’t keep up with the snow. Back roads are closing. Stores are closing, even all night gas stations are closed. The situation is unreal.” Bea crossed her arms and rubbed her hands up and down each arm. She was still shuttering with cold.
Megan shuffled around the floor looking behind the clutter of boots by the wall. “Where are my slippers? These feet need heat.”
Bea walked into the kitchen. Grabbing her cell phone off a counter she punched in Eva Lekko’s number. The phone gave out a constant brr ring, brr ring without an answer. Then it went to voice mail. Bea left her a message. “No. Answer, I’ll try again later if she doesn't call.”
“who you call-in?”
“Goody Girl was suppose to ship yesterday. The van never showed. The information about the van and shipping company are on the schedule in the tack office.” Megan started pulling mugs out of the cupboard. She yelled into the living room. “Neil do you want hot chocolate?”
“No. I got coffee just a few minutes ago.”
Bea filled the singing kettle with hot water and started it heating on the stove. “O.K. I knew that. Lekko sent in this local hauler to pick her up without telling me. Did you see the official authorization papers?”
“Well, he walked into the barn waving a typed letter signed by Eva, that said to release Goody to him because she needed to get her to the vet stable ASAP, in order to secure a stall with the Vet. So, I loaded her into the trailer. He was pushy and rude. It was the storm ya know; I thought it was necessary to move her now.”
“Don’t ever make a move like that again unless I give the go ahead.” Bea picked up the cup of hot cocoa she was mixing, “Ouch, this cup is hot. The snow I fell in melted all over me I’m soaked, I’m going to my room to change.” She walked out of the kitchen blowing on her burned fingers.
When Megan walked into the room, Neil was reading a newspaper his coffee cup sat next to him, on a stand. Neil rarely talked which was unsettling to Megan. Bert called to Neil whenever he was around which made Megan wonder what the horse thought.
Megan picked up the controller, pointed it at the TV with an impatient flick of her wrist. “Wow look at the mess on the highway!”
Bea jerked awake. Feelings of helpless terror washed over her. Sliding out of bed she pulled sweats on over her p.j.s. She padded cautiously across the room and flipped the wall switch. No light emerged from the fixtures. Flinging open the bedroom door she collided with Neil . “What’s making you prowl the hall Neil?”
“All the electricity is off.”
“Everywhere?” Bea waved a flashlight at him. “There’s another torch in the kitchen drawer.”
In the kitchen, Neil fished another flashlight out, while Bea held her light on the drawer.
“I have to climb up into the attic to start the generator.” Neil threw her an inquiring look. “Thought it would be in the basement?”
“No, It’s electric. Solar panels on the roof supply the charge.
Neil followed Bea to the attic and watched as she flipped a switch on a large black machine, A light blinked on above them.
“Well whada you know?” He rubbed his hand on his scruffy cheek.
They moved down to the living room, where roaring wind lashed snow against the sheet glass of the bay window. Snow, like strings of white beads blown horizontal, flew past collecting in drifts, wherever it landed. “Hey, there’s someone stumbling around out there.”
Neil gaped at the raging white storm. “Where? I don’t see anything but snow drifts.”
“Turn on the floods I’m going out.”
“Neil followed her to the mud room. “Maybe it was a deer r dog r somthin.” His hesitant tone revealed a reluctance to go out into the storm.
” Watch out the window, O.K.?”
“Yeah, O.K.” He turned back toward the warm living room.
On the way out, the wind whipped the door from her hands. she leaned on it with her back until she heard the latch click. Wind and snow blew the ends of her scarf across her face. “WOW!" Flashing her light back and forth she started down the drive. Something, no a person is floundering over in the snow.
“Hey, over here.” The wind roared louder emptying the sound of Bea's words into the dark. Drifting snow hurled into the air by the blizzard, obliterated the wallowing person from her sight.
House floodlights illuminated the scene. The stumbling person turned toward the light took one step and lurched headlong into the snow.
Sand like drifts dragged at Bea's body as she plowed a path through snow. She reached the white covered person who was now struggling to stand up.
The woman heaved her body against Bea. “I’m so cold.”
With her arm around the woman the two supported each other toward the house, fighting the wind and drifts.
Neil pushed the door open as they approached gripping it tightly against the gale.
He hesitated to help Eva remove her coat. “I’ll get a blanket.” Eva leaned on the wall shaking and crying.
Help her into a chair Neil, I’ll get hot chocolate.”
Setting wrapped in a blanket, in a deep plush chair, holding a cup of hot chocolate Eva was calmer.
“What were you doing out in this storm?” Bea blew on her hot drink and cautiously sipped.
“It’s all such a mess. I got a phone call. Burt blurted out his rig was jackknifed on its side, blocking Star lane. Next, the phone went dead. I jumped in my car and tried to get to him because He had Goody in his van. My car bucked through roads full of snow, I couldn’t even see to drive. The drifts were to heavy so, I started walking. The door on the truck was open but the I couldn’t find the driver. The ramp is broken off and the mare is gone.” She put her hands up to her face and sobbed hysterically. “I thought I would freeze.”
“Neil call the state police let them check that van. There is a number by the phone. Eva, Goody Girl is safe. I wouldn’t let him take her.”
“She’s here? Oh Thank God I thought she was out in the storm.”
Neil returned to the room. “The staties said they will send someone out on a snowmobile. They weren’t happy about it but since the driver is missing they will check it.”
Two days later the morning sun shined bright into the room. Neil leaned in from the kitchen door. “The plowing is adequate. I got a call from my neighbor. The roads are clear so I’m going home see ya tomorrow.”
“Thanks Neil, keep safe. Megan come on! Lets put the gang out for a good roll in the snow."