Still Burning - Chapter Three - The Charity Case
 By Moose   •   1st Apr 2013   •   2,654 views   •   4 comments
Horse Story - Still Burning

“Jane?” her mother asked at the sound of the screen door opening. The only reply was the sound of Jane’s boots stomping up the stairs to her room. Elise sighed and glanced up from the sink, out the window at the boy standing on their porch. He tore his gloves from his hands and slumped into the porch swing. He ran his hands over his face and through his dark hair. She could tell Andrew was upset, and judging by the way that Jane had stormed off to her room she was the source of the problem. Elise decided it was time to talk to Jane.

Her room was quiet when she approached it, something very unusual. She opened the door with a creak. And just as she thought, Jane was nowhere to be found. Elise noticed the curtains moving. She felt the tickle of the gentle summer breeze through the gaping window the gaping window Jane had forgotten to shut when she escaped.

The soft tassels of prairie grass felt like feathers as they grazed Jane’s bare legs. The warm breeze danced with her golden blonde curls. Her hair flew like a flag behind her, slapping against her back. The sun bounced off Flora’s coat, igniting the paint with color and shine. Jane held on to her mare with her long, slender legs. She moved her hips in the rhythm of Flora’s lope. They were in sync, like one moving object over the open field. Flora and Jane had shared this connection since the day they met on Jane’s 13th birthday. The second Jane laid eyes on the stunning, chestnut paint she fell in love.

She fell in love with the way the mare moved in such a delicate, graceful way. Flora floated over the ground like a butterfly hovered over a flower. Jane looked at the soft, fragile, innocent face and decided on her name immediately.

Flora. Meaning flower.

Jane let her head tip back slowly and face the sun. She let her mind slip into another place. A place where things didn't matter and her thoughts could wander wherever they pleased.

She felt Flora move beneath her like they shared legs. She felt as if she was flying. The ground became air. Now the real world had completely slipped away and Jane could clear her mind of everything. She couldn't care less where they were going or when she had to be back. She just wanted to escape it all for a while. And that’s exactly what riding Flora did for her. It was the only time she could feel completely free.

Jane threw her arms out from her sides and looked up to the sky. When she opened her eyes she saw the it the big, cloudless, Caribbean blue sky. She laughed out loud as the feeling of flying lifted her off the ground. Goosebumps and shivers ran up and down her arms and spine. She leaned back her body signaled Flora into a walk. Her hair fell back to her shoulders and her ears rang with the beating of her heart as it slowed back down. She wrapped both her arms around Flora’s neck and buried her face into her marbled mane. She took in that smell she had come to love so much.

When she straightened up, the barn came into view and Jane felt her stomach churn. Nothing had changed. The sight of the barn reminded her that she still had to return to the nightmare she was living in. If only she could live in this pretend world forever...

Jane slid off Flora’s painted back when she reached the barn and just as she did, her mother appeared on the porch.

“Jane, I need to talk to you.” She said with urgency.

Jane set Flora loose in the pasture and followed her mother onto the porch. The crickets filled the empty silence between them until Jane spoke.

“Why is he here?” she asked abruptly.

Elise sighed and took a place on the porch swing, “That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about.” She said softly.

“Then tell me,” Jane demanded impatiently, “Tell me why I have to share a house with this stuck up, immature child.”

Elise smiled to herself, “Jane, you’re being a bit prejudice, don’t you think? I mean, have you really gotten to know him or is that your opinion of him, hm?”

Jane looked down at her hands, folded neatly in her lap. Her mother was right, Jane had decided the second she saw him that she didn't like him, and she never really gave him a chance. “No,” she denied it. “He proved my opinion right. Now it’s a fact that he is a stuck up, immature child.”

Elise sighed and shook her head the way mothers do. There was a long, anxious silence before she spoke. “Andrew’s father was a good friend of your father’s. They worked together in the ranching business. Marshall was a good man.”

“What does that have to do with Andrew’s behavior?” Jane interrupted.

Elise continued on as if Jane hadn't interrupted. “Andrew was his only son, they had a very strong relationship. So when Marshall was diagnosed with lung cancer, you can imagine how hard it was on Marilyn, and especially Andrew.

Unfortunately, it was very late-stage cancer. There wasn't much more they could do for him but try to make his time last. A few years after Marshall’s death, Andrew’s mother was killed in a car accident. He lived with his aunt until they found him a place with us. Marshall was like a brother to Will, and he knew that Marshall would do the same for him if anything ever happened to us. So we took him in. He’s just here to work on the ranch until he can stand on his own feet.”

Jane was silent. She felt an overwhelming feeling of remorse. Now she regretted every word she had said to Andrew, she wished she could take them all back. Now it made sense why he was here, now she understood. But how could she fix the mess she had already made? There was no way Andrew would forgive her.

“Dinner will be soon,” Elise announced, “I think you should go and apologize to Andrew.”

“But Mom,” she pleaded for a way out, “How am I supposed to apologize? What if he doesn't accept it? Isn't there an easier way?”

“Jane, you have to be the one to step up.”

Jane slumped her shoulders forward and sighed. She was right she had to be the one to apologize first. As her mother went inside, Jane started planning her apology to Andrew. How to even start?

It took all of her bravery to come inside and look for Andrew. She tapped on his door softly and listened. He was listening to soft music, it sounded like. She took the initiative and let herself in. He sat on the bed, a guitar in his lap, plucking at the strings undisturbed. She didn't even know he played. There was a lot that she didn't know about him.

“Andrew.” No response. He didn't even look up. It was like she wasn't there. He continued to pluck at his guitar. “Andrew, please.” She repeated.

He stopped playing. But still he did not look up.

“I came here,” Jane paused and took a deep breath, “to apologize.”

Andrew looked up and studied her face, “Did your mother put you up to this?” he asked, no mercy in his tone.

“No, I mean... In a way.” She stammered out, “She told me about your parents.”

Andrew shook his head and looked back down at the guitar then back up at Jane,

“So now you pity me. Is that what this is? Am I some kind of charity case to you?”

She didn't know it was possible to make the word charity sound so awful.

“No, of course not,” she said quickly.

“Then what? Do you feel guilty now because my parents are dead?” Andrew asked, raising his voice. He took the guitar from his lap, setting it behind him, and stood. “Listen to me, I get pity from everyone else, I don’t need it from you.” He demanded.

Jane stepped back, surprised and confused. “Fine,” she said softly. She watched him step past her. Now she felt even worse than before, but deeper inside her she felt a twinge of anger. She had just swallowed her pride and apologized to him, how could he be so rude?

Jane waited a few moments before she followed him downstairs.

“How did it go?” Elise asked from the kitchen.

Jane stopped, looked to her mother and shook her head, “Ask him,” she said before stomping outside in fury.

Andrew stood silently in the doorway to the living room. He could have been a little more appreciative of Jane’s apology, but he knew that she didn't really care about him. She was only apologizing so that she didn't have to live with the bad conscience.

Dinner that night was even worse than the first two nights Andrew stayed. He avoided eye contact with Jane altogether, which seemed to solve the problem, but he could feel her eyes digging into his face like daggers from across the table. The last thing he wanted was for someone to bring it up.

“So, Jane and Andrew, are you two getting along a little better than the other night?” Elise asked curiously.

Jane stopped chewing and froze. Andrew sprung into action, “Yes, we seemed to have put away our differences and we’re getting along fine.” He covered.

“Good to hear,” Will cut in.

Jane kicked Andrew from across the table. Flinching, Andrew continued,

“Actually, I think Jane can speak for herself. Go ahead, Jane, tell your parents how you feel.” He said with smirk.

Jane narrowed her eyes and shook her head. Andrew simply smiled back at her, as if he was enjoying torturing her.

“What did you want to say, Jane?” Her mother asked.

Jane looked to her father, then to her mother. “Just that I’m so glad that we took Andrew in.”

“Really?” Will looked quite surprised.

“Ecstatic.” She replied.
PonyBox  MOD 
Ok, now I'm hooked. Your writing is amazing.
  54 days ago  •  3,770 views
Lovely story. You're a great writer! :D
  54 days ago  •  3,548 views
Love every chaptor so far! Please, I am begging you to write more!! It could be made into a real story!!!And then a movie!!!!!!!!!
  54 days ago  •  3,973 views
I love these stories! Keep up the good work!
  50 days ago  •  3,559 views
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