Still Burning - Chapter Two - Tempers Rising
 By Moose   •   26th Mar 2013   •   2,640 views   •   6 comments
Horse Story - Still Burning

“Grain goes in here. They get grain everyday, twice a day.” Lewis explained, “Now, the older horses get this, it’s supplement vitamins and stuff. They only get this in the morning, at night they get the regular feed. The young horses get different supplements and they get that twice a day. Are you listening?”

Andrew snapped out of his day dream to see a bearded man staring straight back at him as if waiting for an answer.

“Hm? Yes, oh yea, I’m listening.” He nodded like a bobble-head.

Lewis was an older, more experienced ranch hand on the Kennedy’s ranch. Will thought it would be a good idea if Andrew learned a few things from him before doing the chores with Liam every morning. Andrew had started out listening and learning, but things got less and less interesting as they went and pretty soon, he had tuned out.

“Better be. Mess this up and you’ll get kicked out.” Lewis said with a stern voice Andrew hadn’t heard before.

“Really?” Lewis had his attention.

“No.” He answered. As Lewis turned and continued down the aisle he heard Andrew sigh in relief, “But you should really pay attention. Go to the feed room and get the grain pans, I’ll show you what grain to give the older horses.” Lewis ordered.

Andrew obeyed and went briskly to the feed room to get the grain pans Lewis was asking for. As he rounded the corner quickly and without looking, he came to crashing halt. Without hesitation he began blurting out apologies but stopped himself when he realized who it was.

Jane pulled herself out of Andrew’s chest and looked up. There was a long pause between them before Andrew spoke, “You should watch where you’re going.” The next thing she knew, he was passing her into the feed room. She narrowed her eyes and stood motionless where he had left her.

“Excuse me?” she said, spinning around to face him. “I should watch where I’m going?”

“Unless you enjoyed running head first into my chest?” Andrew replied, avoiding eye contact and digging through the feed room for grain pans.

“Let’s get one thing straight, you ran into me! How could I have seen you? I was in here, you just rounded the corner without looking and ran right into me!” she shouted.

“How was I supposed to know you were in here?!” Andrew said standing and looking down at her like a skyscraper overlooking a building.

“You didn’t have to! Just look where you’re going!”

“Why should I? You don’t.” he shot back.

“Hey, hey, hey!” A voice came from outside the feed room, making them both pause their argument. “I can’t listen to this anymore you should both look where you’re going.” Lewis said, looking exhausted and out of breath. “Andrew, get the feed pans and follow me. Jane, get your pony treats and get out.”

“Excuse me? I wasn’t getting pony treats.” Jane corrected. She heard Andrew stifling laughter from behind her.

Lewis pressed his calloused fingers into his creased forehead and sighed out loud, “Andrew,”

“I’m coming.” He replied, stepping carefully past Jane as if she was a bomb ready to go off. On his face was a smug smile that made Jane’s blood boil.

Jane leaned against the bars of Aquillo’s stall, the horse that hadn't been ridden since the day Jane’s older brother left for the marines. The name Aquillo meant eagle. Noah had named him the day Aquillo was born. But the gelding hadn't been the same since Noah’s leaving. Jane was the first to notice the change. She noticed it when she first opened his stall the morning after Noah left. Aquillo was worked up. The entire time she led him to the pasture, Aquillo had his head high, as if searching for something. He whinnied several times, it was a sad, eerie whinny, as if he was calling out to a lover. Jane thought nothing of it, being it was the morning after a hard rain and the horses tended to be anxious and frisky. But in the back of her head, she wondered if it had anything to do with Noah.

As Aquillo’s behavior continued, Jane began to question it. Aquillo didn't move from his place in the corner of his stall when she came to get him. His head hung low in the shadow like he wore a mask. He didn't greet her with a warm, welcoming nicker like he did every morning. He didn't perk his fuzzy little ears and raise his buckskin head when he saw her. There was no other logical reason for him to act this way other than being sick. So she told her parents, who concluded there was nothing wrong with him. But after yet another week of this new behavior, Jane realized that his behavior wasn't logical at all. Aquillo actually missed Noah, an emotion she didn't even know was possible for a horse to feel. But after seeing the dramatic change in mood, temperament, and disposition she decided there was no other explanation.

No one else believed her when she said that Noah’s horse missed him, not even Liam. So for weeks Jane visited Aquillo in his stall, talking to him, grooming him, giving him special care and trying desperately to get him back to his normal self. But Aquillo was never the same again.

Jane opened the gelding’s stall one afternoon, just like she had every day for 2 weeks. She had decided to ride him, thinking to herself that it might cheer him up to see the valley and the other horses. So she went back for a saddle and carried it to his stall. But when Aquillo saw it, he pinned his ears flat back in his dark mane. Thinking he was just acting sour, Jane set the saddle down outside the stall and threw the blanket over his back. Aquillo squealed and his leg snapped back, barely missing Jane. His hard hoof crashed against the stall, the sound startling both of them. Aquillo rose into the air, thrashing his hooves even more violently and completely out of character. He bobbed up and down and threw his head angrily.

Jane ran!

She didn't want to take a chance losing her life and staying in that stall. She scrambled out of the stall and shut the door, leaving Aquillo and the blanket inside. Her heart was racing, fast and loud enough she could hear it in her ears. Fear pulsed through her body and shot chills up her spine. She had never been afraid of Noah’s horse, not in her entire life, until that day. Jane swore from that day on never to touch him again.

As Jane peered into his stall at the sad, depressed, shady figure in the corner, she felt pangs of guilt. The horse that used to be so energetic and full of life hadn't been ridden since Noah left. She couldn't help but feel a tugging at her heart when she thought about how happy this horse made Noah and how crushed he would be if he knew that he would never be ridden again. Jane felt her eyes begin to water. Aquillo deserved another chance.

Just as she was about to spring into action Jane was distracted. She glanced across the aisle at Andrew moving bedding, shovel by shovel. Each time he bent his arms, his muscles bulged. Sweat dripped from his forehead and down his neck. He moved in a steady beat bend, scoop, lift, turn, drop, repeat. Jane’s eyes followed Andrew as he stepped into the aisle, moving onto the next stall. She couldn't help but notice that his dark, almost black hair made his golden brown skin look even darker. His hair reminded her of Noah’s. His dark complexion made his bright blue eyes stand out, even from a distance. His face really wasn't that bad looking. It looked chiseled like a handsome statue of a Greek god. It’s a shame, she thought, to waste such a handsome face on such a jerk.

Jane realized how distracted she had gotten and turned her attention back to Aquillo. She took in a deep breath and let it out with a long, drawn-out sigh. She slowly slipped her hand over the metal handle and opened the stall with care. She paused and watched Aquillo, who didn't move an inch. She took a daring step forward, squeezing into the small opening and carefully laying foot inside. Suddenly, a barn sparrow dove from the rafters of the barn, thrashing and flapping as it went. Aquillo broke into a spasm, throwing his head into the air and coming down on Jane, knocking her to the ground. It was happening again.

From across the barn, Andrew heard the flapping of a bird and a loud thud. He saw Aquillo’s head thrashing up and down, but where was Jane? He expected her soothing voice, telling Aquillo to settle. But he didn't hear her, or see her!

Something wasn't right!

Andrew threw the shovel into the wheel barrel and sprinted for his stall. As he threw open the door, he saw Jane, scrambling to her feet. Aquillo bounced onto his hind feet and tossed his head violently. Andrew didn't think twice and wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled. He stumbled into the aisle. Jane found herself in Andrew’s arms. The rest was a blur. She looked at Aquillo, horrified, terrified, and confused. As Jane turned to face Andrew, their eyes locked and for a split second he looked like a hero.

“Get your hands off me!” she screamed and ripped her hands away. Andrew released her and stepped back.

“I think what you meant to say was thank you,” he said.

“Why should I say thank you?” Jane asked. She looked at him like that idea was foreign to her.

“Because I just saved your life,” Andrew cut in.

“No, you just invaded my personal space and pretended it was a heroic act.”

Andrew laughed in disbelief, “Unbelievable. She doesn't even thank me.” He muttered to himself and started for the stall he had been working on.

“Are you demanding a thank you? For what? To feed your already huge ego?” she asked, following him.

Andrew spun around, stepping up to Jane’s face and spoke his words like just the taste of them disgusted him. “You see, in the civilized world, we thank people when they save you from a wild animal.”

Jane stepped back in astonishment. She couldn't believe the words that had just come from his mouth. Andrew’s words had hit in just the right place. They had a sting to them that Jane couldn't just ignore. Aquillo was never violent before. What was going on? Where was the horse that she and her brother used to know?

“Uncivilized? Wild? Excuse me, who on Earth do you think you are? That wild animal you’re talking about is called a horse. That horse means a lot to me and to my brother.”

“It’s just a horse.” Andrew mumbled under his breath.

“Just a horse?! Jane repeated, “You don’t know anything about that horse or how important it is to me. And right now, these horses are holding your future because without this ranch, you would be on the streets. So I believe it’s you who owes us the thank you.” Jane argued. With that, she stormed out of the barn for fresh air.

Andrew followed her. His stubbornness kept him in the argument. “Do you think I chose this?” he asked, gesturing to the ranch.

“Like you had a choice...” She murmured as she continued towards the house. It took all of her strength to keep herself from saying anything else and kept her eyes glued on the front door of the house.

Andrew rolled his eyes at her dramatic behavior. For a simple farmer’s daughter she sure acted like one of the girls from the city. In fact, she was almost exactly like them.

“You know, your father actually made you sound like a decent, civilized woman when I met him. He obviously doesn't know his own daughter.”

His words stabbed her in the back, forcing her to wince in pain and stop in her tracks. Her nails dug into the palms of her hands. She tried to tell herself to hold it in, just let it bounce off of her. But she couldn't stop herself, the words sunk in deep, squeezing themselves into her already open wounds. The truth was, her father didn't know her, he never listened when she talked, he was never there for her, all he ever did was yell at her.

When Jane thought the anger couldn't build anymore, it boiled over and she couldn't hold it in another second. She spun around and threw her hands against his chest, shoving him with all of her might.

“Who do you think you are?!” she screamed, “My family took you in like a helpless little puppy, and you’re ungrateful? What makes you think you can judge me and my family?! You’re in no position to judge, you’re a narcissistic, arrogant, pathetic excuse for a human being!” Jane screamed each word into Andrew’s face, on the verge of tears.

But all Andrew could think about was the way her light brown eyebrows formed a perfect crease right in the middle of her forehead when she was mad. In fact, her whole face was sort of cute when she was mad. Her eyes were such a cold, pale shade of blue but yet they looked as intense and dangerous as a raging fire as they stared back at him with more passion and determination that he had never seen before. Her soft pink lips moved her faint dimples as she spoke. Her face turned a shade of red, making her freckles stand out even more and seem to dance on her high cheek bones.

“And you will never belong here. EVER!” she shrieked. When she had finished her lecture, she shoved him again, snapping him out of his thoughts. With that, Jane spun around and disappeared into the house, slamming the screen door behind her. Andrew clenched his jaw and stood in the yard as the dust settled. Jane’s outburst had taken him by surprise, surely he did not know it was in her. She was a lot stronger and a lot feistier than he thought. And her words, though they stung, made him realize how he had acted. But should he apologize? No. Why should he apologize for his behavior when hers was far worse?
This is awesome! :D Can't wait for next one, can anybody write short stories? :)
  Mar 29, 2013  •  3,133 views
My Paper Heart  
True talent. Amazing story. Enough said.
  Mar 30, 2013  •  3,300 views
oh snap!!! go jane!!
  Mar 30, 2013  •  2,997 views
Topthorn Equestri  
Love love love your stories!!!!! They always have me on the edge of my seat!
  Mar 30, 2013  •  2,982 views
Love it Moose! This has got to be one of the most well- written stories I have ever read on here. :)
  Apr 1, 2013  •  3,135 views
i like it lots
  Aug 6, 2013  •  2,514 views
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