I woke up the next morning sprawled along our tiny couch with a blanket thrown over me. I lifted my head and heard a crack echo through my neck. I groaned and slowly lifted and stretched the rest of my body out. I yawned and rubbed my eyes. They hurt. I looked at the clock, it was nine thirty.
Nine thirty! My eyes flew open and I rushed outside. I had completely overslept and today was moving day too, back to Bellmead. That means my chore list was doubled.
My eyes met dad’s, who was bending over a water pump, sloshing water onto his raw and weathered face, “Dad! I’m so sorry; I’ll get right on everything!”
He chuckled and looked me over, I suddenly realized I looked a wreck in my nasty slept-in clothes, “You’re fine Squirt, figured you needed a break so I took care of today’s chores…”
“Oh… thank you…”
He winked, “Just don’t get too comfortable with all these vacations you’ve been getting lately,” He said as he ruffled my hair as he walked past me towards the trailer.
I sighed, glad that I was off the hook but my eyes flew open again, “Sean,” I whispered.
Dad sighed and waved towards the direction of Sean’s lot. I quickly kissed him on the cheek and sprinted over, still in my PJ’s and bare feet. I carefully hopped across the rocky dirt road as the gravel pinched the bottom of my feet while I rushed over to see what kind of condition Sean was in. I threw open his trailer door, not bothering to knock, immediately running into a wall of antiseptic fumes.
“Whoa…” I muttered as the fumes rocked the senses in my brain back and forth. As I walked in I left the door open in order to air out the small space. My eyes met Becky, bending over Sean with a worried expression on her face. Sean was lying down on his bed, his nose pinched and wrinkled with pain.
Becky looked up and gave me a fake smile, “Erica…morning’.”
Sean strained his neck, forgetting about the pain for a second and smiled at me, “Morning gorgeous.”
I returned a bleak smile and sat down cross-legged next to his bed, “Morning… how’re you feeling?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know the answer or not.
“Like a million bucks,” he replied, “But Becky won’t let me get up and /do/ anything…” he complained, tossing Becky a glance.
She sighed, “Don’t worry about it,” she said, slapping her things with both hands and standing up, “I have everything ready to go back to Bellmead.”
Sean huffed and reached out for my hand and held it to his face. It seemed to feel at normal temperature and I let out a small squeak of relief that Sean unfortunately caught and narrowed his eyes at me, “I really do feel better.”
I swallowed and genuinely smiled, “Good.” The last thing that this poor kid needed was infection to spread and for him to start burning up. Good thing I picked a fighter. I turned to Becky, “So what’s your plan?”
“I’ve gotten everything packed up and ready to go. I was planning on taking the horses over first and coming back to get Sean,” she walked towards the door, “I’m going to go start the truck,” she said with a clearly distressed expression. “Erica, could I talk to you for a second… outside?”
Sean stared at Becky with warning in his eyes (Well, in the one eye I could see since the other was warped by the bruise traveling up his cheekbone) and squeezed my hand tighter, not letting me remove his grip.
Becky chuckled, “I’m not gunna’ eat her Sean, I just want to talk.”
I smiled and Sean and removed his hand gently with my other and walked out the door Becky held open for me. He grumbled something to her that I couldn’t hear and she chuckled. She closed the door behind me and her face flipped in an instant, she stared at me with more intensity than I thought Becky with her laugh lined face could manage. “So… what do you think?”
The words weren’t even meant to break my fragile emotions but it’s amazing how they pierced through me like millions of tiny glass shards. What did I think? About what? Did she want me to discuss the fact that the most important person in my life was incapacitated because of my negligence? Did she want me to describe to her how her practically orphaned nephew was maimed under my watch? Did she want me to tell her why I abandoned him and in the short period of time that I did he managed to almost kill himself? How he almost vanished…
I could feel my throat clench around the nonexistent air traveling through it. I /was not/ going to cry in front of Becky, especially how she accused so much from me in that simple question. I swallowed my betraying hormones and looked straight into her eyes, urging mine to be a tad more venomous, “I think…I know… I’m scared to death…” I managed to choke out with as much muster as I could.
To my surprise her lower lip wobbled and her face broke. She pulled me into a hug and sighed. She held me back before her, “Listen to me Erica…”
I nodded fiercely, biting my lip to keep back tears.
Her eyes softened, “He’s fine. I’ve seen worse rodeo accidents before.”
I thought of Pedro and shivered.
“But you need to listen to me.” I nodded my head vigorously, “I have to leave early tomorrow morning to get back to my ranch, I have four mares that are due to foal in the next week. I would have had to leave sooner if it weren’t for these awful turn of events. So that means that /you/ have to take care of him,” she commanded with the fear of god in her voice.
I opened my mouth but no words made their way out so I just nodded my head again, “Don’t let him out of your sight Erica and keep doing what you’re doing. The sling and the leg brace can come off in a week or two, the sprains aren’t that bad. Amy and Jelly can live without exercise for a month or two until they get back to my place but I’m keeping them with him. I tried to get him to give them to me since he won’t be riding for the rest of the season but he fought me long and hard on that one. Just promise me Erica… take care of him for me?”
I swallowed and praised god that He had given me something to work with, something to compensate for abandoning Sean and getting him into this mess. My job is simple but one that I can, and will to the best of my ability, attain. I gave Becky a half smile, “There’s no one better for the job.”
She took my chin in her hand, “Good girl. He’s set for food until he comes back to me at the end of the season. Just /please/ make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid. And you don’t do anything stupid either,” she finished with a wink. She opened the driver’s side door that we were standing next to and twisted the key and her Chevy came to life. She took something out of the console of her truck and handed it to me. It was a piece of paper with a phone number scribbled on it, “I’m only a call away.” She said with a smile.
She hopped into her truck and slowly towed the two horses behind her away. I shoved her number into the back pocket of my shorts. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to use it. I sighed and opened the door to Sean’s trailer, showing him that Becky didn’t attack me.
The second I stepped in the door Sean whipped his head around to face me with wide eyes, “What’d she say?”
I chuckled, “To make sure you didn’t do anything stupid when she left basically,” I explained as I sat down on the edge of his bed.
His eyes softened, “Oh… she must like you if she didn’t go all West Virginia on you, don’t doubt her I’ve seen her do it to other girls before…”
I smiled and put my hand on his hair and he lifted his head into my lap. His hair was damp, “Did you manage to take a shower?”
He raised an eyebrow at me, “Yeah, Becky had to help me… that was awkward.”
I chuckled and gently twirled his dirty blonde hair with my fingers. He closed his eyes, content, as I traced my finger around his face. “Are you sure all of your chores to get home are done?” I asked.
“Mmmhmm,” he answered, not opening his eyes. I smiled and continued running my finger tips over his perfect nose, across his lips and up the side of his faultless jaw line. When I came to the horseshoe print on his cheek I stopped and as gently as I could traced the U with the very tip of my forefinger, remembering Becky’s words.
I leaned down and kissed his forehead and gently moved his head from my lap. He opened his eyes and grunted in disapproval. I took two steps across his tiny trailer to the counter which the root bruise brew was still sitting and put it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Once it was warm I grabbed a cloth and came back over to his bed. I motioned with my finger for him to sit up. I sat in his lap and started with his face, keeping the cloth on the gruesome discoloration. I leaned my forehead against his while the concoction soaked into his skin. No words needed to be said, the silence was screaming them all. Every time we would open our eyes our eyelashes would mesh and send chills down my spine. And when I couldn’t stop a tear from rolling down my cheek he gently brushed it away with his lips. And if anyone had a camera ready and took a picture of us right now it would surely capture the entire meaning of sacrifice in a horse-girl horse-boy relationship. The thought made me smile.
I leaned back and started with his torso. He hadn’t wrapped his ribs yet or put on his sling or brace. After I finished taking care of his bruises I wrapped his separated rib and had him throw on a light cotton t-shirt before his sling. And when it came time to change the bandage of his thigh I managed to repress a gag and realized that the gash looked ten times better than it did yesterday. I cleaned it and wrapped it once again and had him change into some cargo shorts. I felt bad shimmying the leg brace on, it must be incredibly sweaty and obnoxious rubbing on him all day but when I asked him he just lied smoothly.
“Are you sure?” I asked again, raising an eyebrow at him and holding out a hand to gently lift him from his bed.
He grunted as I pulled him forward and his face twisted with pain, which made mine do the same, “It’s fine,” He said flatly.
I must have made an obvious pained expression because he sighed and pulled me in for a tight hug with the one arm he could. I gently placed my arms around him and kept my head under his chin. I could feel him press his lips to my hair. “Thank you,” he whispered.
I didn’t reply. I looked up and lifted my hand to his cheek and gently ran my thumb over the massive hoof print dug into his beautiful face. I felt a vibration in my back pocket and found my phone with a text from my dad. I read it quickly, “I guess my dad wants us to drive your trailer back so Becky doesn’t have to make a double trip and he’ll just pick up our trailer later while Becky watches our horses,” I shrugged, “Makes sense.”
“Oh no…” he muttered.
“What?” I asked suspiciously.
He raised his eyebrows at me facetiously, “/You’re/ driving /my/ truck and trailer? No way…”
I would have punched him in the arm if he was in better condition but I decided to just stick my tongue out at him instead. I playfully ran to the door of the trailer and stuck my head out to find that my dad had already left with the horses. “Thanks for the goodbye…” I muttered with a chuckle. I turned around and ushered Sean out the door, “We set to go?” I asked.
He raised an eyebrow at me, “I don’t know… I’m genuinely concerned for my truck’s safety, you’re not the most…uh… practical driver… and you have terrible road rage.”
I chuckled, he was right about the road rage, “Just give me the keys, if I total your truck you can have mine, okay?”
“I don’t know I’m not really a Chevy person…”
I trudged over to him and snatched the keys out of his hand, “I wondered what I ever saw in you?” I flashed him a smile and a wink.
“Oh burn…” he laughed as he followed me out the trailer at a slow hobble.
Soon enough we were on the road despite Sean’s grumbling. Even though halfway through the trip I still heard him huffing at me. “Alright, I think I’m driving fine I don’t know what your issue is…”
“No I’m not mad about that… it’s just my face.”
I cringed, “Does it hurt?”
“No, not that, it’s just that people keep staring,” he said, glancing over to the car next to us, the passengers gaping at his purple, blue face.
After I mouthed a quick remark that they obviously received since both passengers whipped their heads forward and their wimpy eco whatever kind of car they were driving fell back a few hundred feet I felt better. I took Sean’s hand in mine, “I still think you’re beautiful…”
He lifted my hand up and kissed it and held my fingers to his lips for the rest of the ride.
After our hour or so drive I helped Sean set up everything once we arrived at Bellmead even though Becky beat us to most of it since we got there. After a half hour of our arrival my dad pulled in with our trailer. I said goodnight to Sean and goodbye to Becky once everything was taken care of since she was leaving early in the morning. I made sure my horses were all set and threw a carrot to Coyote and Molly.
I trudged into the trailer and fell onto my bed. Before my dad could even finish, “You a little tired there Squirt?” I was asleep.
I BEG YOU TO COMMENT TO TELL ME IF I SUCK OR NOTTTTT