Timmy Goes Missing-A Timmy Tale

            Gina loved the weekends because her mother often allowed her to stay at Kuhaylah Arabians from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. So instead of waking up on this Saturday morning to the sounds of her mom and current boyfriend arguing, she awakened to the smell of chicken apple sausage cooking. At her own home, she would have been lucky to find a decent brand of cereal and milk that was in date.  After her usual morning ritual of face washing and such, Gina wandered into the kitchen just as Antonia was scrambling the eggs.

            “Good morning, Antonia,” said Gina as she retrieved a couple of plates from the cabinet and carried them to the table.

            “Good morning,” said Antonia.

            The morning news was playing in the background on the small television on the kitchen counter as Gina finished setting the table and Antonia finished cooking.  Gina helped Antonia make the plates with eggs and sausage and Antonia set another plate on the table with toasted English muffins that were already dripping with butter.  Antonia turned to shut off the TV because she preferred talking during meals, when a breaking news story announced a missing boy.

            The local news reporter, Nancy Hill, appeared on the screen.  All blonde hair and blue eyes…a walking cliché.

            “A boy has gone missing,” she announced maintaining her serious reporter face as she continued.  “I’m here at Connie’s Creatures, a local petting zoo, where the search is underway for a five-year-old boy that disappeared from his church group who were here to visit the sweet farm animals as part of the Mother’s Day Out program that the church runs for single mothers.  The boy’s mother has just arrived,” said Nancy with a gleam in her eye.

            Seconds later, Nancy Hill, was shoving a microphone in the face of the distraught young mother. 

            “That woman has no shame,” said Antonia as she turned off the television.

            “You know her?” asked Gina.

            “She used to cover horse shows and the like.  She always loved it when someone was injured.  The more serious, the better.” Antonia continued, “That animal farm is near here.  We need to help with the search after we feed the horses.”

            Antonia walked over to a side counter and picked up her iPhone.  “Go ahead and eat. I’m going to call Lucas.”

            “Lucas Remington, the sheriff’s deputy you’re friends with?” asked Gina.

            Antonia nodded as she said, “Hello Lucas.  Yes, I heard.  We’re going to help with the search after we feed the horses.  Gina’s with me.  Okay, I’ll call you as soon as we’re done.  Let me know if you need horses to continue the search,” said Antonia and then she clicked off the call and slid the phone in her pocket.

            Gina finished eating and started to clean up, but then Antonia said, “We’ll clean up later.  Pull on your boots and let’s go.” She grabbed a chicken sausage with one hand and ate it as she opened the back door with the other and strode toward the main barn which housed the mares.  Gina came flying out the door behind her just after slipping her feet into her steel-toed cowboy boots, her barn boots as she called them.  Even in a hurry, Antonia looked graceful in Gina’s eyes as she scrambled to keep up.

            Several scoops of feed later, the mare’s barn was done, and they headed to the smaller stallion barn.  Spirit and the younger resident stallion, Flame whinnied in unison as Antonia and Gina arrived at the barn.  Antonia walked straight to Spirit and held the beautiful face the black stallion offered over the stall door in her hands, placing her forehead to his.   He became a kitten in her hands. It always looked to Gina as if they were communing telepathically.  She couldn’t help feeling jealous every time they did it.  Flame nickered softly to her.

            “I know.  You want your feed,” Gina said quietly.  She walked to the feed bin, lifted the lid with one hand and grabbed a scoopful with the other.  She closed the lid after retrieving the scoop and then crossed the narrow barn aisle and entered Flame’s stall.  He immediately attacked the feed after she poured it in the corner feed bucket.  The sun was peeking through the small windows up high in the stalls and Flame’s bright red coat glistened with spots of gold and copper.  Gina couldn’t help wishing he was hers and she could one day share the same bond with him that Antonia shared with Spirit.  Flame lifted his head from the feed, turned toward Gina and nuzzled her, but quickly returned to the feed bucket.  

            “He’s bonding with you,” said Antonia, as if she were reading Gina’s mind.

            “What do you mean? He just turned for a second,” said Gina.

            “When a horse stops eating feed, one of their favorite things, to greet someone, that means they care about that person,” said Antonia.

            Gina took one more look at Flame before stepping out of the stall and allowed herself to imagine for a moment that he was truly hers.

            “Ok, let’s go feed the retirees.  They’re already gathered up front,” said Antonia, breaking Gina from her reverie.

            Gina loved how Antonia called the front pasture horses retirees.  They earned their retirement she always said.  The feed buckets for the pasture horses hung on the fence just east of the stallion barn, so they didn’t have far to walk.  Antonia had poured feed into a wheelbarrow that she rolled over now as they walked toward the fence.  They both grabbed a scoop of feed and emptied them into a couple of buckets before wasting no time to scoop up some more feed.  This was a process that had to be done quickly to minimize the breakout of fights.  A few minutes later, all the horses were happily munching away in their individual buckets, but then Gina noticed one of the buckets had no one attending to it.

            “Oh my gosh, Antonia! Where is Timmy?!” Gina exclaimed.

            “I just noticed that too,” said Antonia.  “I’ll saddle up Spirit, you get Freedom from the other barn and we’ll ride out to find him,” said Antonia.

            Gina ran to the mares’ barn to get Freedom.  The seasoned mare had finished her feed and was happy to see Gina to take her out to the mares’ pasture as per the usual routine.  Gina slipped her halter on her in the stall and as she exited the stall, she turned right in the barn aisle to head to the pasture. 

            “Sorry girl.  We have to find Timmy first.  You’ll get to hang out with the other mares later,” said Gina as she patted Freedom’s neck and then turned her the other way toward the saddling area.

            Just a short time later, Gina met up with Antonia outside the gate that led to the front pasture.  Antonia on her black stallion, Spirit and Gina on the dependable chestnut mare.  Freedom was the first offspring of Spirit.  And like all his children, she was beautiful; fiery chestnut coat, flowing tail, blaze, and all. 

            “Ok, let’s check the pond out front first,” said Antonia and they cantered out together toward the pond.  What a sight they would have been to anyone watching.  Two petite women riding magnificent Arabian horses, running with tails held high.  One glistening black in the morning sun and the other flaming red.

            Timmy was not at the pond, so they headed toward the gate that led to the back pasture.  It was open this time of year, so they cantered through single file, Antonia leading the way on Spirit.  Kuhaylah Arabians was over two hundred acres in size, so the search was cut out for them.  They rode side by side on the main trail, walking now and watching and listening.

            They both stopped in their tracks.  They heard the faint whinny at the same time.  Gina’s heart leapt into her throat, “Timmy’s alive!” she said out loud because she had feared the worst.  She loved that little golden pony so much.

            Antonia held up her hand, palm facing toward Gina.  She was listening intently.  Nothing.  So, she called out, “Timmy!”  There was another whinny in response to her query and this time stronger.  It came from in front of them, off to the right, deep amongst the trees.  Antonia urged Spirit straight into a gallop from a dead stop.  Gina urged Freedom to follow.  The red mare wasn’t as fast as Spirit, but she willingly followed at a good clip. 

            They slowed to a trot as they left the trail to enter the thicket.  Halfway into the trees, Timmy came trotting up to them.  He seemed perfectly fine, so Antonia said, “Timmy, you gave us a huge scare.  Come here!” Timmy looked at Antonia and just as it was with Spirit, it appeared that they were communicating telepathically.  They continued to stare at each other for what seemed to Gina like several minutes, but in reality, was only seconds.  Timmy shook his head, blonde mane tossing about his neck, then turned on his heels and trotted deeper into the trees.  Antonia followed without saying a word, so Gina followed too.

            Timmy slowed to a walk as they entered a small clearing, so Antonia and Gina slowed their mounts too.  Timmy had stopped in front of a lone tree in the clearing.  Antonia and Gina had both been temporarily blinded by the morning sun.  Timmy stepped sideways, head down near the base of the tree and when Gina and Antonia urged their horses a few steps forward into the shade of the great oak tree, they saw what Timmy was looking at.

            The little boy stirred and placed his little hands on each side of Timmy’s soft muzzle and kissed his nose. “Hello horsey,” he said.

….

            “We found the boy,” said Antonia talking on her cell to Lucas. “He’s fine, just a few scratches and tired after his adventure,” she continued. 

            The little boy whose name was Caleb, he had informed them on the ride back to the house, was now munching happily on some leftover chicken apple sausage at the kitchen table.

            “Ok, we’ll see you in a bit,” said Antonia before setting down the cell phone.

            Antonia walked over and sat down at the table with Gina and Caleb.  “How are you feeling Caleb?” she asked.

            “Great!” he answered with a mouthful of sausage.  “I love Timmy! He saved me! And I love Freedom too! I never got to ride a horse before! Can I ride Freedom by myself sometime? I mean, it was fun riding with Gina, but I wanna try on my own!” Somehow the boy was smiling, talking, and eating all at the same time.  Gina and Antonia looked at each other and smiled.

            There was a knock at the back door.  Antonia rose from the table and walked the few steps to the door, opening it and in stepped Lucas Remington, tall, dark, and formidable in his deputy’s uniform.  He removed his hat as he entered, revealing the tight, jet-black, curls clipped closely to his head.  He was clean cut and smelled of leather and musk.  Gina always had a hard time talking to him because of his great beauty.

            “Hi Lucas,” Gina managed.

            “Hello, Gina,” he said before turning his attention toward Antonia.  His face softened when he gazed at Antonia, and Gina wished that someone would look at her like that someday.

            “Hello Lucas,” Antonia said smiling.  “It’s good to see you as always.”

            Lucas smiled at her and then turned toward the boy, his face all business again. “How you feeling, Caleb?” he asked.

            “Awesome!” said Caleb, now munching on an English muffin.

            “That’ good to hear,” said Lucas now smiling at the boy.  Lucas reached out his hand and said, “Let’s go see your mom now, she’s been worried sick,”

            “Okay,” said Caleb getting up from the table and grabbing another English muffin on his way out.

            “I’ll call you later Antonia and let you know how things went,” said Lucas as he turned to leave, holding Caleb’s hand.

            Caleb stopped and turning toward Antonia asked, “Can I come back and ride Freedom one day?”

            “I would like that Caleb,” said Antonia.  “Lucas, give my number to his mother, will you?” she asked.

            “Yes ma’am,” said Lucas, tipping his hat and smiling warmly at her, before turning and stepping out the door with Caleb in hand.

            After they drove off in the squad car, Gina asked, “Why don’t you go out with him, Antonia?  He’s obviously in love with you.”

            Antonia had her back to Gina as she continued to look out the kitchen window even though the car was no longer in sight, but then she turned toward Gina and for a split second the sun caught in her eyes and Gina noticed a slight shimmer, as if Antonia were holding back tears. But that wasn’t possible Gina thought, because Antonia was always strong, never emotional.

            “Gina, we need to turn out the mares,” Antonia said as she turned and opened the back door, stepping out as she said it. Her voice was strong as always, no hint of sadness or longing. Gina followed her out the back door without another word.

The Red Filly-Chapter 4

            “When do I get to ride, Strider? I’ve been mucking stalls for a whole week now,”

            Strider laughed, “Oh yeah, a whole week. You crack me up, Bethany. You have to earn the chance to ride. A week is not a long time.”

            “It seems like a long time to me,” said Bethany as she dumped the pile of manure from the stable fork into the wheelbarrow.

            Strider dumped a load from the stall he was cleaning and then turned to Bethany. “Bethany, riding a horse is a privilege. Especially, Antonia’s beautiful Arabians. You’re looking at this all wrong. Not many people get the chance at all. Your time will come.”

            “Well, I hope I’m not a grey-haired old lady, before it does.”

            Strider laughed again. “You go see your girl. There’s only one stall left. I’ll clean it.”

            “Really?! Thank you, Strider!” Bethany dropped her fork and ran down the barn aisle.

            “Bethany, you forgot something,” Strider called out.

Bethany didn’t hear Strider as she ran toward the far north pasture. She slowed to a walk about halfway there. Even as excited as she was, she couldn’t run that far at top speed. The trek was worth it though. The fiery, red filly lifted her head and locked eyes with Bethany from a safe distance at the top of a hill. Bethany had made the long journey on foot to the north pasture several times now to try to make friends with Fyrestorm. She had brought a halter with her on the first trip, thinking she would catch her, because Antonia said they had haltered her before to give her shots and a vet checkup, but other than that the two-year-old filly had not received any training.

            The first walk to the pasture had not gone well. As soon as Fyrestorm saw the halter, she turned on her heel and took off out of sight over the far hill in what seemed an instant. Bethany didn’t bring the halter the next time, and the filly still ran, but just far enough away to keep an eye on the strange, auburn-haired girl. Bethany considered that a success, so she continued her halter-less visits, hoping the filly would begin to trust her.

            On this occasion, Fyrestorm only ran a few steps, but still out of reach, and watched Bethany. Her heart felt as if it would burst from her chest as she watched the filly standing on a small hill; head held high, neck bowed, nostrils flared as her red mane flowed and her arched tail plumed out behind her. The beauty of the filly was breathtaking. Bethany wanted her for her own with all her heart, but she knew her mother couldn’t afford to buy her. Bethany was saving all her money from her new job, hoping it would be enough to one day make Fyrestorm her very own.

            “Fyrestorm, please let me near you. I just want to pet you. No riding yet. That will come later,” called out Bethany.

            As if in answer, Fyrestorm neighed, a shrill, wild sound, like music to Bethany’s ears and then she was out of sight in a flash.

            Bethany watched in dismay at the spot where the red filly had been standing just a moment before. The fall grass on the hill was a peaked mix of green and gray, but all Bethany could see was the gray, because her heart ached for the filly. She had never felt such love and yearning for anything before in her life. Not that existed in reality anyway. Bethany spent most of her time up in her own head with make believe horses, some of them even had wings and she fantasized about riding a winged horse across the skies. She dreamed of freedom from the persecution and ridicule she suffered in real life. There was no sadness in her fantasies, just bravery, glory, and love.

            Bethany was startled out of her reverie, by something pressing into her back. She let out a little yelp and jumped and then she heard hooves pounding the hard ground. She turned heart about to burst, because surely Fyrestorm had snuck up behind her. The horse that had darted just a few feet from her was a beautiful chestnut, but not Fyrestorm; it was her dam, Fyrelite. A beautiful red mare, but with just a star instead of a star and stripe, like her daughter.

            Bethany was disappointed, but when the mare tentatively walked back up to her and nuzzled her, it warmed the girl’s heart. The broodmare was carrying a foal, due to be born in the spring, sired by Antonia’s black stallion, Spirit. Strider said only the best broodmares were bred to Spirit. Bethany began to pet the lovely mare. “Oh, Fyrelite, I wish you could explain to your daughter, that I love her and would never hurt her,” said Bethany while scratching the mare’s neck just under the base of her mane. Fyrelite loved the attention and curled her neck around, almost falling over she was in such ecstasy.

            As Bethany, continued to scratch and rub on her neck, she saw Fyrestorm standing on the hill again out of the corner of her eye. The filly was watching their spectacle. Bethany smiled and realized she had been going about approaching the filly all wrong. She remembered reading somewhere online that horses are very curious and if you ignore them, they become even more intrigued. Her hands were getting tired and starting to cramp up a bit, but she was determined to get the chance to at least touch Fyrestorm.

            It was working, her patience was paying off. The filly had ventured closer. ‘Maybe if she realized her mom likes me, she’ll start to trust me,’ Bethany thought. Fyrestorm walked a few steps closer and snorted. She was close now; Bethany could almost feel the breath of her snort. Her hands and arms were aching now, but if she could just draw the filly in a little closer.

            And then it happened, she felt the filly’s muzzle in the center of her back. She stayed very still and held her breath a bit. She trembled with excitement, smiling from ear to ear. Just as she was about to risk turning to pet her beloved filly, Tyler came galloping up to the broodmares riding Flame, the younger resident stallion at Kuhaylah Arabians. The beautiful, sorrel, Arabian stallion arched his long neck and whinnied in delight at the site of the mares, but Tyler was an excellent equestrian, and he kept the great stallion under his control. Fyrestorm wheeled about and galloped off into the distance. Bethany had lost her chance.