A Day and A Night (The Sequel)
Hello. My name is Javis Moon, and I'm a Choctaw horse. I'm cousins with the Spanish Colonial Strain, and there are less than 500 of us existing on the earth. This is my story.
My best friend, Taylor, comes out of her barn in the mornings to give me grain. It tastes so good. Sometimes she gives me carrots or apples or sugar, but she said I'm getting fat, so she doesn't as much anymore. This morning, she comes out before the sun, as usual, but I can tell something is different.
"Hey, boy." She murmurs when she strokes me as I eat. Her face is wet for some reason. I didn't feel the rain. Maybe she spilled water in her barn. Loud noises come from her barn and she slings a sack over her shoulder and a bag of apples with carrots. Man, she's loaded with treats! What did I do to deserve this?
She opens the gate and jumps on my back without her seat that she usually tightens around my barrel. She kicks me hard in the ribs, and yells for me to run. I don't ask why, I just know it's urgent. Her mom comes running out of the house making very loud noises but I try to drown them out with my hooves. Taylor always says hoof beats are her favorite sound.
Now she leans down into my mane and says "We're outta here for good, buddy. Don't worry, Mom will never hurt us again."
In the early morning dawn, the sun is yawning as it wakes up. In the flat New Mexico land, I run as fast as I can because I can feel the fear in Taylor, and when she's scared, I know I should be too.
I trust her completely, ever since she saved me from the strong water with a rope. The men before her didn't like me and said I was valuable but wanted to kill me, because some man named Jake was after me they didn't like. Then when she brought me to her herd, her mare that she called Mom didn't like me.
I stayed away from her and her whipcord she carried around. I guess Javis is different, too. Now we are 15 minutes away from her herd, and I wonder why she ran away.
When she first got me, she told me everything about her. Her name is Taylor Greene Wood, and that she is 16 years old. She says I'm 3 years old, but I'm actually 17, a year older than her. I can't talk to her, so she doesn't understand horse years. She has a flaxen mane but no tail. And her feet aren't hard like mine, she wears bell boots, she says. And she doesn't like eating grass, she told me. When I tried to get her to lick the salt block, she declined, saying "No thanks." I don't know, she prolly has one in her barn then.
The sun is on the horizon, very slowly sliding upward. I can feel the thoughts racing through Taylor's head, though I don't know what they are. After a couple more miles, I'm tired and ready to take a break. I start to slow and I know Taylor is realizing I'm tired. She guides me to the river we're running alongside of and slides down my side to the ground. I've always wondered why she walks around on only two legs.
No time to wonder more, Taylor grabs an apple from the sack she's carrying and shoves it under my nose. She makes a funny sound as she wipes a hand across her face. I really want the apple, but I can feel Taylor's stress so I refuse. She takes a bite into it instead and I find myself wishing I had took it. I nuzzle her hand and she offers me a carrot. I take it without hesitating. I love carrots, but I really just wanted the sweetness of the apple. Oh well.
After resting a few minutes, she mounts me and nudges me with her boot. I start walking, hanging my head so she think I'm tired and will rest a little longer. She notices, but doesn't really seem to care.
She leans into me and whispers in my ear "Not now, Javis boy. A little farther, boy, please. We have to get farther away. We can't risk them finding us."
I figure she means Mom, and I figure again that she is headed to town, where she usually goes to talk to her grandma. This time, though, my figures are wrong and she steers me with the lead rope tied to my halter towards the north, away from Blanco. Colorado, maybe? I'm not sure, so I just follow her lead and turn onto the unfamiliar path.
Taylor sags wearily on Javis' back, feeling defeated. She had been riding for an hour and a half now, and she figured it would be at least 2 more hours to Antonito, Colorado, the closest she saw on the small battered map she found in Mom's room when she was in town. She figured she could maybe find work there, on a ranch or something. At least long enough to get some money to get farther away from the wicked woman.
Ever since Taylor's father had died when she was seven, her mom had blamed it on her. They had been having a good time riding the horses together when Taylor's mom had come outside with some cold tea. It was a hot day, and loping around the pasture had created some breeze. It had been a month and 21 days since it rained last. The day they were riding, she remembered vividly.
She was riding Cherokee and Dad was riding Silver as Gwen leaned against the fence, fanning herself with a newspaper, watching. They were a happy family that day, until the bush Taylor was riding by suddenly burst into flames by the heat. Cherokee leaped back, getting a burn, and thrown Taylor towards the fire.
Dad had jumped off of Silver and grabbed Taylor, throwing her and losing his balance. He fell into the fire, and after 2 days of cool wet rags and ointment on his deathbed, Dad passed away from the trauma of the burns. Gwen blamed Taylor. The day Dad had died Gwen had made herself say Taylor had died, too, hiding her away from the public to suffer on her own and neglecting Taylor.
Taylor pushed the thoughts away at the sound of hoof beats, her favorite sound. She pushed her long, curly blond hair out of her eyes as she turned to look to see who it might be. She saw a man, about 20 or so, galloping toward her on horseback. 'Oh no,' she thought. 'This is it, they're gonna take me away.' Panic seized her as he neared, slowing. "Howdy, ma'am. You Taylor Wood?" She swallowed quickly and muttered.
"Taylor, I'm Tyler Woodes, Been a while! You look lost. Need some help?" He peered at her under the brim of his Stetson.
"Uh, uh...Tyler, um, no, I'm not lost. Headed to Colorado. Visiting." She made up a lame excuse.
His brows rose. "Colorado? From Montana? That's a pretty long ride."
She frowned. "No, only a couple more hours...what? Montana? Are you okay? You know we're in New Mexico, right?" She thought back to when she was eight, and she asked Gwen what their town mayor was. She kept murmuring over and over his name, and when she filled the answer in her schoolbook, she scored it and it was right. For New Mexico. Not Montana.
"Taylor, are you okay? You know you're in Montana, right? You're on our property and when I saw that hair of yours I knew it was you. Shoo, wait til Dad hears bout this." He shook his head, and she frowned again. "I'm...I'm in Montana?" Panic rose up in her again. Did she take a wrong turn and fell asleep? She couldn't remember.
"Hey, hey, it's all right, Taylor," he said gently. "Why don't you come on home and rest a bit?" Taylor nodded numbly. What was happening? She blindly followed, allowing Tyler to take the lead rope and tie it to his saddle horn.
When they reached the ranch, she went inside after Tyler handed the horses over to a younger boy, about her age, and led inside. The cool A/C blasted and she sighed. "Mom? Come here. You might want to see this." Tyler called. A middle-aged lady came out of a room, drying her hands. When she saw Taylor, she froze.
"T-Taylor? Taylor Wood? Honey, is that you?" She rushed over and pulled her into a hug. Taylor accepted the embrace from the unfamiliar, yet familiar woman. Had she met her before? She pulled away.
"Have I met you before?" Her brow creased in confusion. They sat her down and for the next 2 hours explained that the woman, who was Kristy, was her real mother. The story unfolded and I'll let you figure it out. Taylor accepted in her heart silently that she would never see her mother again probably but had a new family now.
ONE YEAR LATER...
Javis sighed and re-adjusted. What was Taylor doing inside the big barn? Would she hurry up? Suddenly Taylor came rushing out, laughing with her new sister, Jenna. Jenna was really nice to him, and he liked her okay, though Taylor would always be his favorite.
Now 4 years old, or as I would put it, 20, I was getting a little older. Taylor still gives me lots of treats and even won an award for having one of the last Choctaw horses in Montana. She gave it to me and now it hangs on the wall opposite of my stall, so I see it every morning when she feeds me.
Last I heard, Gwen called Taylor and said she wanted to never see her face again and to have a great life as she hung up. Taylor had run out to the barn and cried into my mane but eventually wiped the tears away and faced me with new confidence.
"Javis, I know I might never see my mother again, but at least I still have you. Thank you for leading me to my new family. You're the best horse ever. Stay that way, okay, boy? I love you."
Looking at her with my big eyes, I silently said I love YOU with my heart. I knew she understood. I nickered softly, which made her start crying again.
Jenna came in then, and she didn't say anything though. Just put an arm around Taylor, which I knew would help her.
I had a great life, and I was going to help my best friend. I would help her forget her past, while at the same time I would help her remember it. I would help her be strong. And I would keep being the best horse ever.