Sunday, February 15, 2015
First 5 Pages February Workshop - Levy Rev 1
Sheri S. Levy
Five-six--eight, quiet minutes ticked by on my soft-glowing clock, giving me a false hope of sleep. Just as I dared to close my eyes, my eight-week-old Labrador started another round of squeaky yelps. Robotically, I swung my legs over the bed, collected my frizzy hair into a ponytail, and dashed across the hall. “Colton, I’m coming.
Flicking-on the overhead lights in the laundry room, I blinked and Colton ducked his head. “Hey, little guy. Sorry you’re so lonesome.”
His wispy, black tail whipped back and forth as he strained to set his short, front legs at the top of the baby gate. Like a prizefighter he tried again, and again, until he collapsed on the floor, whining.
I climbed over the gate, sat, and cradled his plump body. Memories of Sydney, my first service dog, surfaced. After earning my handler’s certificate, I was put on the waiting list. Then one year ago, Sydney came to me after his puppy raiser had to move away. At six months old, and trained in his basic needs, Sydney slept through the night.
But Colton was a blank slate. And-I’d be his first, and only, foster momma until he turned eighteen months old.
Colton crawled up to my face and licked me with a silky tongue. I buried my face in his short, black fur coat, stroked his velvety-droopy ears, and whispered. “Are you going to be waking this often, every night?”
His warm, chocolate-brown eyes winked at me.
I surveyed the newspapers covering the floor, scrunched my nose, and shook my head.If I had known how much work was involved would I--? I sucked-in my cheek and nodded. Yeah! I’m almost fourteen- I can handle this! I wadded up the messy papers and spread new ones on the swirled beige and rust colored tile floor. “All done! Let’s go outside.”
After a quick romp with the sensor light going off and on, I placed him and a handful of kibbles inside his crate. “Night-night. Ple-a-s-e go to sleep.”
His face lay in the opening of his crate, and he fought to keep his eyes open.
If I could get a little more sleep, it’d be an easier day. What I am I thinking? It’s already ! I pictured chasing Colton in the muggy air, teaching him new words, cleaning his messes, and then snuggling together. Before long, the sun leaked under my eyelids.
A whiff of coffee jolted me out of bed and told me my parents were up. Was Colton still sleeping? Twisting a loose curl on my neck, I hurried into the kitchen and scanned the room. Mom puckered her face. “Hey, Trina. Rough night?”
I nodded, rubbing my face. “Yep! Is he still sleeping?”
Dad set his coffee cup down. “We heard you two every time you got up, but we promised to stay put.”
Mom lifted her chin. “I know he’s your job, honey, but I had to see him before I left for the clinic. Dr. Mayer called early, needing help with a sick dog. When Colt wakes, he’s yours from now on!”
“Wow! Thanks. That really helped.” Before finishing my cereal, sharps howls erupted. I rolled my eyes, grinning. “Okay. I’m back on duty!”
# # #
In the yard, Colt’s ears raised at the clunk, clunk, of Mrs. Brown’s golf cart driving up the path to her paddocks next door. As I collapsed in the shade, Colton stared toward the clatter, and for safety, scrambled over my crossed legs. I whispered in his ear. “Mrs. Brown is bringing in the horses. You’ll get to meet her soon.”
He looked toward the hidden racket, lost interest, and charged through the trees. The simmering sun crept overhead and brought a wilted pup back to my lap. I carried him to his crate, and he crumpled into a small heap. “Whew--Finally!”
I bounced into the recliner and texted my once again best friend, Sarah, since we’d patched our friendship while on vacation.
Instantly, she texted. “How’s Colton?”
“Call! Too much to text!”
My old cell phone chirped, and I told her about my night. And ended with, “He’s exhausting, but awfully cute.”
Sarah jabbered about Peyton’s texts and phone calls, her first time boyfriend from our beach trip.
I nodded, and played with a frayed thread on my jean shorts, waiting for her to finish. When she paused, I changed the subject. “Do you want to go to the barn? I have to see Chancy. Heather took care of her while we were at the beach and I’m afraid she may want her. Colton’s down for a little while.”
“Okay. Meet you in ten.”
In our neighborhood some people had barns, others had only pasture land. Our eight acres were covered in hardwoods and pine trees with a small grassy area around the house. I hurried up the path and waited for Sarah under an old oak tree.
A grumbly, loud noise like a cement truck grew closer.
Sarah approached. “Trina, what’s that sound?”
“Sounds like a big diesel truck. Let’s get closer.” Behind a large tree trunk, we spied the silver-gray, dually-truck pulling a white two-horse trailer with matching five gray-hearts interlocked along the sides. “That must be the new boarder. I forgot she was coming today.”
The truck shifted, grinding its gears, and slowed onto Mrs. Brown’s drive.
Sarah screamed over the noise. “Do you know how old she is?”
“Mrs. Brown said she’s in the ninth grade.” As the commotion lessened, I whispered in Sarah’s ear, “And, she’s supposed to be a really good rider!”
The engine turned off, and a tall, dark-skinned man leaped from the driver’s side. At the same time, a long-legged, skinny girl in black riding pants and shiny black boots stepped down from the front passenger door. The sun shined on her round brown face, poofy bangs and ponytail, and flashed on her dressage whip waving in the air as if it were a sword.
The girl’s raspy voice boomed through the trees, “Dad, why’d you stop here? You’re too close to the barn. What the?--”
Without saying a word, her father opened the trailer’s top half doors and latched the panels to each side. From the rear of the trailer, a stately, black horse kicked and neighed. Standing on opposite sides of the trailer, they each pulled a clip out of the lock and set the ramp on the ground.
The girl climbed in a side door to untie the horse. He put one hoof a couple of inches behind and then took another step. With a frantic snort, he blew air from his nose and lurched forward.
She screamed at the horse. “Knight, walk. Get-off-the-trailer.” Her whip slapped at the air. “What’s wrong with you?”
Without warning, the horse threw his head and bolted backwards down the ramp. The whites of his eyes showed as his head shook, wildly. White foam lathered his shiny chest.
The girl’s voice dropped an octave. “Dad! He’s getting away.” Then she shrieked, “Move!-You’re no help!”
I held my breath, and clutched Sarah’s arm.
The father rushed over and pulled the whip from the girl’s hands. “Morgan, Quiet down. You’re frightening Knight. Give him a chance.”
She jerked the lead line. “Knight, you stupid horse. You know better.”
I scrunched my face, shook my head, and huffed, “OMG! I could never be friends with someone who treats her horse like that. What’s she doing at my barn?”