It was pitch black. It came so quickly, and the sheer horror of the fall along with it. Who knew that once it came to that time, you would freeze. The thing that you had always prepared for, the moment that you were so sure that when you were thrown into it, you would make the right decision. I looked up into the ineffably blue sky; the sun gleaming hard and unsettlingly into my eyes. I laid quietly, absolutely still as the thoughts of what just transpired seeped into my mind. How did I get here? What did I do to deserve this? How is it that only seconds before, I felt as if I were flying, and now? My eyes rolled back into my head as I replayed the moment over and over, trying to soak up each second of it before my memory went.
“No,” I said. “I will not go today. I do not care how disappointed she will be. I will not go today.”
“Tell that to her then,” Kristen replied.
“I just can’t miss going to the barn today; she will have to understand, right?”
“I’m sure she will. Just tell her.”
“Okay, okay. Fine. I will just go over there and just speak. I’ll let the words flow. I will tell her that I cannot go today.”
“That’s the spirit.”
I gather myself briefly and march painfully and hesitantly over to where she was standing, my coach, leaning up against the rough brick wall that separates the atrium from the hallway, chatting in an animated, yet inaudible way with a fellow teammate of mine.
I don’t want to interrupt, but I still feel myself inching closer, my legs unwillingly moving forward as I knew that I had to get it over with. I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would practice. I cleared my throat and looked her in the eye with such failing confidence that I am pretty sure she knew immediately that I was nervous.
“Hey, Larissa... I um.. just wanted to uh…. let you know that I can’t make it to practice today,” I sputtered.
“Thanks for letting me know,” she returned. She gave a quick smile and resumed her previous conversation.
I nodded awkwardly and walked away, wondering if that twisting knot in the pit of my stomach is a peculiar form of relief or just more anxiety creeping up on me.
Is it weird that I don’t feel any better?
I bypass Kristen completely and blow out the door, practically running to get to my car. Ah, comfortable and lovable Brad. I have always used my car to escape from troublesome situations, mostly because I can lock the doors and just sit for a while. I begin to drive home to decompress for a couple of minutes while I wait for my mom to get off of her meeting so we can head out to the barn.
I grab a snack and munch on it quietly while I wait. I think about my horse, Bailey. She is absolutely gorgeous, with her slender, sculpted face; her eyes, one brown and one blue. She is sturdy and strong, yet lean at the same time. Her shiny, fuzzy, orangey-brown and white coat with her soft, gleaming mane and tail. I adore her. She is confident and sassy and I admire her simple attitude towards life. Maybe that’s because she’s a horse, but who knows?
My mom interrupts me deep in thought, “You ready to go?”
“Oh, yeah, I’m ready.”
“Okay, let’s get going then!” She laughs and claps her hands excitedly. She enjoys this as much as I do, if not more.
We jump in the car and head on our way. I look out the window eagerly as I just can’t wait to arrive. I started to unconsciously bite my nails. Damn. I need to stop that.
After a dragging half an hour, we finally pulled into the dirt, currently muddy, driveway that belongs to Kimberly. The familiar sound of her four dogs yapping loudly at our car gives me pleasure and I jump out to meet them.
After a couple of minutes of face licking, I get right to work. I go and grab my horse to start tacking her up. I brush her completely in minutes. I finish up and start walking out to the ring up at the top of the hill. Kimberly meets me halfway.
“Hello! How are we today?” She said cheerfully. She patted Bailey’s face gently.
I smiled, “I’m great! Bailey seems full of energy today.”
“She should be, she stayed inside all morning.” Kimberly inspected her legs for nicks for a succinct moment and motioned for me to keep going.
I tugged on her reins and clicked my tongue to usher her forward, and she followed.
I lunged her for a solid ten minutes before deciding that she was calm enough to get on.
I guess she isn’t so excited after all.
I got on and immediately knew I forgot something. My spurs. My encouraging pokey sticks. I mentally slapped myself in the face because I knew that once she caught on to the fact that I was without them, I was a goner. I would have no power. I banished the thought from my head with a shake and carried on. She noticed immediately. I sighed slightly as her entire demeanor changed from tired and slow to snappy and wicked.
She jerked around and played with speed, with me struggling to keep her under control. I quickly became frustrated at this ten-year-old. She should know better at this point. I had always let her do this. I let her win too easily and now she is taking advantage. That was one of my resolutions. I have to be pushier with her. I suppose I failed in that aspect.
But no, I am determined now. I must get the better of her. I got the better of nothing this year. From the very beginning, I had promised myself a number of things. I promised I would speak up, for one, be confident. That didn’t take me very far. I had also said that I would work out more. Nope. Not even a little bit. The last thing I promised myself is that I would be a better horse owner. I never had enough confidence to make the effort to curb her behavior and in almost every way, she dominated me.
I cannot let her win now.
I snapped back, put some sass back into her and, guess what, it worked. She stopped. She dropped her head, arched her neck and lifted her back. It was beautiful. I was ecstatic. I had finally done it! I was so proud of myself that I didn’t see it coming. I stood up in the saddle and pumped my fist up in the air. The last thing I heard before it happened was my mom and Kimberly shouting at me to sit up.
It was pitch black. It came so quickly, and the sheer horror of the fall along with it. Who knew that once it came to that time, you would freeze. The thing that you had always prepared for, the moment that you were so sure that when you were thrown into it, you would make the right decision.
I woke up soon after on my back, everything aching. I couldn’t move. I struggled to keep my eyes open, if they were open at all. All of a sudden, it stopped. The aching, that is. I kind of just started feeling all fuzzy. I looked down at a figure lying in a mangled heap in a muddy ditch.
There's no point in it all. Resolutions. They are promises that no one really intends to keep. I guess I still have time to complete at least one. Confidence.
I turn around and walk, not looking back. Not ever.