Gina shimmied under a low spot beneath the white, pipe fence separating the front pasture of Kuhaylah Arabians from the road, and, as always, the pony trotted right up to her. She pulled the carrot from her pocket and, not wasting any time, he took the entire treat in his mouth before the rest of the herd noticed. The pony, the smallest of the bunch and not a purebred, stood out from the rest of them. He was a cutie though, a beautiful coppery, golden color, with a dishwater blonde mane and tail. A jagged, white, blaze ran the full length of his face to the tip of his nose. And on this lovely spring day, his slick coat glistened in the sun.
The pony didn’t leave after he finished the carrot. Gina was drawn to him because she was an outsider in her circles too. And, like him, she had dishwater blonde hair, although it was cuter on him in her opinion. Gina felt less than cute with her skinny body, flat chest and long, stringy, often tangled, hair. Gina spoke softly to the pony, rubbing his neck and scratching his cheek, the way she knew he liked. “I love you little boy, I wish I could stay here with you.” Tears streamed down Gina’s cheeks. She hugged his neck as the events of the previous day came crashing back into her brain.
“We have to add Gina Targoff to the list,” Chet whispered.
“Of course! She should be at the top!” responded Cassie, in a louder whisper. Chet, Cassie, and their minions all giggled.
Gina was keeping her head down, pretending to read whatever textbook she had opened in front of her. She refused to cry; she would not show them weakness. Even though Gina knew they were whispering loud enough for her to hear on purpose. Samuel James Middle School was almost a daily exercise in humiliation. She fought back the tears though…
“Yeah, Gina is definitely the ugliest girl in the school,” said Chet.
They all laughed again.
The golden pony put his head on Gina’s shoulder as if he were trying to comfort her. She hugged him tighter and let the tears flow until there were no more, but she continued to hug him, taking in his horsey scent, and allowing it and the quiet to calm her mind.
“Timmy has really taken to you,” said a voice behind Gina. One with the slightest hint of an accent, an accent from another country though, not rural Texan as Gina had grown accustomed to.
Gina straightened and jumped back a step from the pony in one quick move.
“I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here.” Gina gaped up at the woman astride a black, Arabian stallion, solid black save a small white star on his forehead.
“Come closer girl,” said the woman.
Gina walked toward her and saw that she was probably around her mother’s age. She was attractive, with an exotic look about her. She had her long brown hair pulled back with a black velvet scrunchy. But then Gina’s eyes were drawn back to the horse. So much like the black stallion she had read about, except the one in the books was solid black. But this stallion before her had the same wild look of the one in the books; thick black mane, forelock blowing in the breeze about his face, and a thick, flowing tail. He pranced about a bit and snorted a couple of times. The woman said something to him that Gina couldn’t quite hear, and he settled down.
“What is your name?” asked the woman.
“Gina…Gina Targoff. Please don’t have me arrested. I’ll never come on your property again.”
The woman laughed. But in a lilting way, not in a, you’re darn right you’re going to jail, kinda way.
“I was actually thinking of offering you a job. I’ve watched you with Timmy. You two have formed quite a bond.”
“Timmy, a cute name, for a cute little boy!” said Gina.
The woman laughed again. “My name is Antonia Silva, and I am the owner of this ranch. So, what about the job?” Antonia asked.
“I don’t know anything about horses or ranches,” Gina answered.
“Do you know how to drag a water hose or carry buckets?”
“Umm, yes…” answered Gina.
“Okay, good. We’ll start with that.” Antonia smiled.
Gina smiled back and then jumped when something firm and soft rubbed the small of her back. She spun around and little Timmy nuzzled her chest. Gina reached out and stroked his face.
“He loves you and trusts you. You’re a natural with horses,” said Antonia.
“He’s so sweet. May I ask how he came to be here among…” began Gina.
“…among all these purebred Arabians?” Antonia finished.
“Well…yes. Is it rude to ask?” said Gina.
Antonia laughed again. It sounded like music to Gina. “No, it’s not rude. He was my horse when I was a young girl in Brazil. The story of how he and I came to be here in this small north Texas town is a long one.” Antonia rubbed her black stallion’s neck and smiled. “Spend a little more time with Timmy and then head up to the big house and I’ll show you around.” Antonia wheeled her glorious steed around and galloped up the hill toward the house.
Gina watched the beautiful woman in control of such a magnificent animal and couldn’t help wishing that could be her one day. She turned back to Timmy and gave him a hug. “Did you hear that boy? Now I can see more of you and no more sneaking around!” One of the chestnut Arabian mares had come closer, curious about this skinny, young girl in the big pasture. Timmy laid back his ears and turning on a dime chased her off as if to say, “This is my girl!”
Gina laughed for the first time since she could remember. It had been a long, emotional journey from Dallas to Dale City. Even though they were only an hour apart, they were miles apart in cultures. The small-town Dale City students at Samuel James Middle School did not respond well to newcomers. For the very first time in a long time, Gina felt like she was where she belonged.