Monday, March 11, 2013

Here's an Excerpt! (Riding a Dead Horse)


“Breakfast,” Mom said. She had her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. Sunscreen was coated so on so thickly her skin looked like it was plastic.
I laughed at her. “Not taking any chances with a sunburn, are you?”
Mom touched her cheek. “It’s a bit much, isn’t it?” She shoved a plate of toast and eggs at Drew, my seven year old brother. “Eat.”
Drew wrinkled his nose. “I hate eggs,” he grouched.
“You hate everything.” I ruffled his thick thatch of black hair and sat down to my own breakfast, eggs and toasted rice bread.
Having Celiac disease is a pain. It means I can’t eat anything with gluten in it, which is basically anything and everything that tastes good.
“Are you nervous?” Mom asked.
I shook my head, swallowing my eggs. “Not yet. I will be, though.”
Mom laughed. “Aspen, I don’t even know how you show at all. I’d be a basket case.”
I grinned. “That’s because you’re a wimp.”
She paused in wiping Charity, my baby sister’s, face with a napkin. “True. Not nice, but true.”
“Is Dad going to make it?” I asked. Clay is technically my step-dad, but he was the only father I remembered. He was a great guy and treated me like one of his own kids.
Mom nodded. “He got off work at one this morning. He should be down in a minute.”
Even as she said it, Clay tromped into the room. It was his day off, so I was really glad he was coming to my show.
I swallowed my last piece of rice toast. “I gotta get Bliss into the trailer. Hurry up, will you?”
I ran out the back door, letting the screen door slam behind me. I could hear Mom and Dad shout, “Don’t slam the door!”
“Sorry,” I shouted back.
Bliss, my chunky mare of uncertain parentage, was waiting for me. I ran a brush quickly over her. I’d given her a real bath the day before and her bay coat was bright and sparkly.
“Show time,” I told her, cheerfully, “nothing to get stressed about, just a little schooling show. I bet Patches and all your other friends will be there.”
Bliss leaned against me as I brushed her. I shoved at her. “I am not a human leaning-post,” I told her. “Move.”
Bliss ignored me and leaned more of her weight on me. I staggered.
Loading Bliss in our tiny one-horse trailer was as easy as throwing in a leaf of hay into the trough, letting Bliss hop in and securing her lead rope. I tapped my feet impatiently as Mom and Dad, with Charity and Drew in tow, came out of the house. Mom had them all laden down with a cooler, and umbrellas, as well as hats and sunglasses for all. She was always ultra-prepared.
Drew was whining, of course. He had his DS in his fingers, and kept trying to play with one hand, while Mom dragged him along with the other. “I don’t see why I have to go at all,” he complained. “Horses are stupid.”
Mom plucked the DS out of his hands and shoved him into the truck. “Well, until you are old enough to stay at home alone you will be coming to see all the ‘stupid’ horses whenever your sister rides.”
Drew stuck his tongue out at me.
I flicked him. “Sorry, but not sorry, Brat.”
Drew howled. “I am not a brat!”
Charity took his howl as a cue to start screaming.
I sat back in my seat with a sigh. “Geez, don’t they ever shut up?”

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