April 11th, 20xx
I woke up this morning when I banged my sore knee against one of my good one. I bit my lip to keep from crying out. I glance at my phone and saw that I had woken up only about ten minutes or so before it was going to go off anyway. I sat up and turned off the alarm so it wouldn’t go off on my end. My knee was stiff, but it held my weight down the ladder, and I started getting ready. As reluctant as I was to accept what Josh did, that meant I put on the knee brace first.
It helped, giving it support so I could finish getting dressed without hobbling around too much. Rather than fret over clothes, I just grabbed the first things I could find that weren’t going to be too snug. That ended up being the black budget pants we’d gotten around this time last week and the green shirt with the black waistcoat over it. My boots were a bit more of a struggle, but I tried to be quiet. I didn’t want to wake Savvy up too early after she’d helped me last night.
Speaking of last night. I bit my lip as I brushed my hair free of tangles. Poor Evening, I’d made such a fuss over Bright, I could see his jealousy getting out of hand again. The only thing I could think to do is give his stall the same fuss I’d given the pony’s yesterday, to get them on equal ground. So as soon as I was ready, I wrote a note and left it on the vanity mirror for Savvy so she would know where I went, and off I was to the stable.
Most of the horses were just now stirring in their stalls, so I tried to be quiet as I got to my two. Both my geldings were surprised to see me, and Evening especially when I went into his stall first. “Well, you were pouting over your stall not smelling like disinfectant,” I told him, and led him out and over to Bright’s stall. He whiffled my hair, making me smile and feel like this wasn’t a waste of time and effort.
What I didn’t count on was how much harder it would be, both with just me and my knee. The mat alone was a real pain in the rump, but I managed. While the floor dried after the scouring, I went into the second stall and sat down in a dry bit of bedding. It was rather comforting, the smell of hay, wood, and horse, and I soon had both pony and horse nuzzling me over. I laughed and told them I was fine, but their concern was touching. My boys, I guess…
I had just thought to get the new mat down when I heard foot steps coming down the aisle. I checked my phone for the time, and it was still pretty early. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised it was Savvy, with a small Styrofoam cup with a lid and a napkin wrapped around something. She offered them to me with her brows raised. Apparently I’d almost missed breakfast entirely. Oops. But she’d made me a couple breakfast sandwiches out of biscuits and bacon, and gotten me a cup of tea. And Nikki had was carrying my saddle bag, so I wouldn’t have to go to the room again.
Savvy insisted that I sit and eat and she and Nikki would get the new mat down. I agreed, and heard them huff and swear as they got the heavy rubber mat in place. I wolfed down the food so I could help with the bedding, and took final sips of tea between getting chips and hay down. It was finally ready for Evening to go back in it. He wuffled, quite happy now. I rolled my eyes, but gave him a pat and started getting Bright ready to go for his exercise. The pony did not like my aggressive actions with his feet, but I wanted his thrush gone. He kicked his hind feet out as we rode off, like he was shaking my people germs off. It made me laugh.
As we were walking the ponies to Moorland, Savvy filled me in on what Nikki had been up to. She’d actually made some progress yesterday and had found some old history books that she thought might be of help. Savvy told her to look for names like Sands or Sandman in her search, and Nikki said that would be a good clue. She then started gushing about the shopping at Jarlaheim, and I thought Savvy was going to turn green with jealousy. But we couldn’t reach it since you had to actually go to Jarlaheim to get your ferry pass stamped to get there, and while Nikki had gone on a trip with a punch of other girls the year before, Savvy and I hadn’t had the chance yet.
But then we reached the polebending set up. Savvy asked me quietly if I was going to put on the knee pads. I flushed and rapidly shook my head no, since there was a reason I left them laying on the vanity. (And if they had made their way back into the saddlebag, I didn’t want to know.) I wasn’t sure what to do with them, since returning them would be rude, but I couldn’t keep them either, especially if I wasn’t going to use them. It seemed too personal for the distance I wanted to keep between us, even if it was civil.
Josh wasn’t quite as grumpy as he was yesterday, it seemed. He didn’t quite manage a smile, but he did tip his hat to us. I thought he frowned a little deeper when he looked me down and then up again, but I don’t know what for. Did he expect me not to ride Bright with the thrush? Or was it over the knee pads? Even though he hadn’t told me he’d given them to me so I maybe wouldn’t have even found them yet if it weren’t for Mrs. Packard’s gift!
Nikki and Savvy were still talking shopping, so I took Bright through first. He didn’t need any urging, but I think all the messing with his feet had him eager to get away from Josh. We managed to avoid all the poles today, though we went a little wider. I didn’t want to risk another brush against them so soon! Our time was good enough for my tastes, so it was fine.
I came back with a smile, and Savvy went with Star next. Nikki was giggling over something, but she wouldn’t tell me what about. Instead, she started plying me with questions again. Startled, I tried to answer them as best I could, but I just didn’t have much to say about family. I had no siblings, no aunts, no uncles, and therefore no cousins. She realized that was the wrong track, and instead asked me about my video game. Oh, big mistake. I started chattering at her about the games I had been playing, about Desmond and the concept of genetic memory the game played with, as well as aspects of history with the Templar Knights (even if so much of their information was wrong). I thought Josh was staring at me, but I tried to ignore it. It was the most I had spoken with her, and I could feel her warming up to me a little more.
When Savvy came back and Nikki took her turn, she still had this little smile on her face. I didn’t understand what had made her so happy, but maybe it was that she knew she would get to see Derek soon. I thought about teasing her, but decided against it. I just needed the distraction from talking to Josh! I didn’t want to say anything to him except passing comments, or else we could just keep hurting each other…
Jewel came back with a stumble and a snort, and Nikki with a burst of laughter. While Savvy teased her, I finally managed to look at Josh from the corner of my eyes. “Thank you, for yesterday,” I said, reaching down and tapping my knee (gently, I didn’t want more pain!) so he knew what I mean. I watched him look, then jerk his eyes to the side, his ears growing red. But I didn’t stick around for a response. “Last one to the pony race is a rotten tater!” I called out, loudly for me, and it surprised Josh, I think, and my friends. (Friends, I have friends now!)
But Bright and I were already taking off for the race, and I heard them shouting at me to come back and that I had cheated, getting a head-start. I didn’t care, just laughing and urging Bright onwards.
We were the first to Pony Point, which I teased the other girls about. They gave as good as they got, but it was all in fun. We took our turns down the beach, but I kept Bright out of the spray today. It was really important his feet stayed dry until the thrush cleared out. Star apparently made up for it, since Savvy came back soaked! Nikki left us then to go check out those history books and see what she found out, and we went to Silverglade for our regular mail check.
Savvy didn’t need any urging from me. She started talking to Derek as soon as it was our turn. And Josh and I were the topic of conversation! I think I turned red as a beet when I found out that Josh had asked about my knee. I still needed to figure out what to do with the stuff he’d given me… But Savvy had apparently woven some tragic yarn for him that was completely untrue. I managed to squeak out a, “Savvy, you didn’t!” but I don’t think it could be heard over Derek laughing.
There wasn’t any mail waiting for me, which I don’t know if that excited or upset me. Was Miss Sable really keeping my letters from Daddy, and therefore Mummy too? I didn’t know, and I wanted to hear from them, so much… I let Savvy have a moment with Derek in privacy, walking Bright away so she could catch up with us easily enough once she was done. Sure enough, Star came trotting up and we went back to the winery in possibly the best mood we’d been in since we’d moved there.