“Oh, Timmy, I’m never going to see you again,” said Gina as she hugged the golden pony’s neck tighter. “They’ll make me go live with my aunt in Oklahoma, I just now it.”
Gina hadn’t heard Antonia ride up behind her on her black stallion, Spirit, as she sobbed into Timmy’s neck.
“You’ll come live with me,” said Antonia.
Gina spun around to face her mentor. “Antonia, I want to stay here more than anything, but my aunt called as soon as she heard my mother died. I’m not eighteen yet, so I won’t have a choice. It’s the law. I think that I have to go with my closest relative.”
Gina turned back to Timmy who hadn’t moved an inch, wrapping her arms back around his neck and sobbing uncontrollably once more.
“Gina, we don’t follow the laws of man,” said Antonia.
Gina continued to sob into the pony’s neck, but Timmy gently shook himself free of the distraught girl and then swung his head, whinnied sharply and as Gina looked on, his eyes flashed red for just a moment.
Gina gasped, “Antonia, there’s something wrong with Timmy’s eyes.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Timmy’s eyes, girl. It’s time for you to open your eyes,” said Antonia.
“Open my eyes?” asked Gina.
“Yes Gina, you’ve mentioned before how it seems that Timmy reads my mind. Well, he does…in a way. We’ve been connected since my early training in Brazil, He’s my familiar, for lack of a better word.”
“Familiar? Like a witch’s familiar?” Gina stepped back from both of them as she asked this.
“Gina, why do you step back? You’re afraid of us now that you know what we truly are? I’m disappointed. I expected more from you,” said Antonia.
Gina stared up at Antonia. It was a lot to process. Her mother’s sudden death, Antonia a witch. Even Timmy, sweet, little Timmy; a monster with red eyes, but no, not a monster. He had always shown her love and so had Antonia. It was her mother who was the monster, always telling her that everyone else was more important than her, and that she was nothing.
Gina remembered when she told her mother about Chet and Cassie putting her on the ‘Ugly List’. It was the list of all the ugliest girls at Dale City High and an annual tradition it seemed for the jocks and cheerleaders to make said list. She told her mother how Chet had whispered loudly enough for Gina to hear as she sat in study hall pretending to read one of her textbooks, that Gina Targoff should be at the top that list since she was the ugliest of all. Tears had been streaming down Gina’s face when she had told her mother what he said.
Her mother responded, “Well they’re better than you, Gina. You’re a very plain, uninteresting girl.”
Gina’s mind returned to the present. Timmy nudged her from behind with his muzzle and Gina looked up at Antonia, sitting astride Spirit, whose black coat glistened in the bright sunlight of late Spring. His tail was held high, pluming out behind him in the Saturday afternoon breeze. His small, curvy, Arabian ears were pricked toward Gina as if he too, were awaiting her answer. The white star on his forehead was catching the light and his nostrils flared in anticipation. He and Antonia were striking against the background of the clear blue, big Texas sky. Antonia had her beautiful black hair pulled back and braided and the aroma of some expensive French perfume, left over from her heydays in the fashion industry wafted down and flitted about Gina’s nostrils. As Gina looked up at her, Antonia smiled and then Gina smiled too.
“So, will you use magic to keep me here?” asked Gina.
“No, Ama has a law firm remember? We’ll do things the old fashioned, legal way.”
“I thought you don’t follow the laws of man?” Gina asked.
Antonia laughed, “Well, okay, we manipulate the laws of man when we need to. Legal ease with a touch of magic. You’re very sharp, Gina. You’ll do well in your new lessons.”
“We’re going to teach you in the ancient ways,” answered Antonia.
“We? You’re not the only witch?”
“Of course I’m not the only one, but my people prefer the term, shaman,” answered Antonia smiling.
“What’s the difference?” asked Gina.
“Well, it’s a matter of semantics, I guess. A little variation in rituals and abilities.”
“Is Ama a witch?” asked Gina.
“Well, not exactly.”
“Not exactly? What does that mean?”
“You have much to learn, child. Give sweet Timmy a hug and then head up to the house. I’ll turn Spirit out and then meet you there,” instructed Antonia.
“But, I have so many questions…”
“And I will attempt to answer all of them,” said Antonia as she wheeled Spirit around and trotted back toward the stallion barn.
Gina turned back toward Timmy. She stood looking at him, uncertain as to whether she should follow Antonia’s directions and hug him again.
He made the decision for her. He stepped up to her and then placed his head and neck gently over her right shoulder. Gina stood completely still for a moment and then slipped her arms around his silky-smooth neck and his flaxen mane fell about her arms and face. She stood like this for what seemed like a very long time, inhaling his sweet, horsey scent. For the first time since she had been hugging the golden pony, she opened her mind and she sensed that he was telling her that he would always protect her. She hugged him tighter, then let go, stepped back and looked into his red eyes and saw the wisdom there for the first time.
She smiled at Timmy, then turned and sprinted toward the house with Timmy trotting at her side, tossing his head as if to say, Gina was truly one of their own now.