A Journey into the Unknown - Part One
(Round Rock, TX)
It was a crisp, cool day in Ireland that early morning. As usual, I awoke with pure joy as I do every day in hopes of going out to the barn for the horses’ early feeding. The sun was shining outside but I knew it wouldn’t last since the weather was always unpredictable here.
Even as I turned on the TV to check, I knew that listening to the daily weather report was pointless. The warm sunshine wouldn’t last for long and I wanted to get to the horses before the weather got too bad.
Before anyone else awoke, I snuck downstairs and did a mad dash for the door. The barn was warm and insulated, different from the weather outside. The smell of straw filled my nostrils with delight as I got to work.
"Hey, Oakey, Ginger, Piggy, and Clove, time for your feeding.” All the horses whinnied excitedly as I carefully put fresh feed into each horse’s stall.
“Hey Oakey, how ya been?” Oakey’s stall was always the first one on my route. He was a big, red sorrel-colored quarter horse with a good strong build. He neighed in reply as I took him out of his stall to finish the job, talking to him all the while.
Mucking out the stall, I said “Phew, Oakey! What have you been eating?” Oakey turned his head in both surprise and bewilderment. “Oh, sorry bud,” I said, getting to his feet as quickly as I could to scrape the dirt away. Then I did the same for Ginger, Piggy, and Clove.
Ginger’s stall was next to Oakey’s so it always made sense to get to her next. Ginger was a brown quarter horse almost the color of ginger, hence the name. Piggy was a dark brown pony with a black mane and tail, though sometimes it looked blue. Her real name was Miss Piggy though I thought Piggy suited her just fine. Sometimes I called her Pig since she seemed to eat more than the others. She also likes the name Princess but I rarely used it.
Clove was the second to last. “Hey Clove!” The white mare’s ears tricked forward, alert. “Hey girl,” I said in a sweet voice and petting her, “How’s your baby?” Clove gave birth a few months ago to a small foal. It was her first baby and we had almost lost both of them. Lucky was born 3 weeks earlier than expected and had trouble gaining weight and standing by herself during those early weeks of her life. Because of what they had gone through, Clove and her foal had became my favorites.
Clove nudged me over to look at one corner of her stall. Lucky, the little foal, was still sound asleep. I went into the stall carefully, the corner was cold but dry. “Lucky?” I said softly. Lucky didn’t stir. “Lucky?” I said a bit louder. I was getting desperate. “Lucky!” I shrieked, shaking her. Finally, Lucky opened her eyes and looked around frantically as if she had just come out of a real intense dream. "Oh Lucky, thank goodness!” I sobbed with relief as I hugged her. She looked at me surprised. Only a yearling and all tiny and helpless looking, dark brown in color, black mane and tail, four white stockings, and a white stripe down her face. “Hang in there Lucky,” I whispered as I crept out slowly so I could go to school.
After school, I finished my homework, ate dinner, and then went to the barn to clean the horses’ stalls and talk to them. “Margret!” I suddenly heard Mom call. “Margret! Margret Roberts! Where are you?” My mom, Karan, has hazel eyes and auburn hair. Her eyes are always dark and cold, almost mesmerizing. Even though she got me interested in horses, she does not yet approve of my having to spend so much time with them. “In the barn mom! What’d ya need?” I groaned. “Oh, there you are!” she cried. “Come inside, we’re in for a storm.”
I opened up the big barn doors and looked up at the sky to see if what my mother was saying was true. The sky was still a brilliant blue. “You’re lying!” I barked at her hotly, “and I don’t deal well with liars!”
“Lying? Who’s lying? I’m not lying about this. Your pal Rags told me.” Rags was our family’s very intelligent black and white collie. She warned our family of upcoming weather changes and I often called her “the true weather man” of the family. I also put her in charge of guarding the horses and she would bark wildly if any horses got out.
“But what about the horses?” I protested, “I can’t just leave them?”
"Oh, you and your horses,” she said as she rolled her eyes. “Why can’t you get along with people? Make some friends?” My mom just didn’t get it. She never did. “What do I need friends for?” I said. “Horses are my friends!”
"Yes, well, come inside anyway, the storm's a brewing.”
“Ugh,” I sighed, “Okay.” As I walked with her inside, I started to think about the horses again. “Will they make it through the storm okay?” I wondered to myself. “And will the barn hold?” I glanced over to my mom as she turned to the weather channel which said that a violent thunder storm was coming — tonight! I thought about Lucky. “Would she be alright?” The voice inside my head reminded me that her mother was there so I knew she was safe. I went into my room and stared out the window. The barn looked sturdy enough so I stopped worrying and hopped into bed.
It was almost midnight when I awoke to a loud roar of thunder. I lurched up wondering what was going on. I remembered that here, rain and thunderstorms were nothing unusual, that’s why the grass looked so green everywhere I turned.
After the thunder had passed, there was an instant pitter-patter sound coming from our roof. I listened to its soothing sound for a few minutes before going back to sleep.
It wasn’t long before I was awakened again by a sort of high-pitched whine coming from outside. “Huh, what now?” I groaned. I lay there in my bed for a few seconds before heaving myself to my feet and walking cautiously down the hall to the back door. I didn’t know what I would find. Upon opening the door, I saw the outline of a dog. “Rags,” I sighed. Rags sat there whimpering and shivering in the doorway. “Rags! What are you doing? You’re supposed to be keeping guard outside the barn!” I scorned, feeling just too tired to deal with her. Rags just looked at me, shivering. “Rags go back to your post!” I ordered, pointing one finger outside. “Go on now, go!” Turning my back to her. Rags turned and started to leave, walking with her tail between her legs like someone had just beaten her.
Thunder roared, beating down hard upon the lightening filled sky. Rags yelped in terror, darting back toward the house. “Oh, come on!” I yelled. Rags whimpered as a roar of thunder sounded again, filling the purplish-grey sky with a massive drum beat. “Okay, Rags, if that is how it’s going to be, let’s dry you off. You smell like wet dog!”
Finding a towel, I dried her off quickly. We ran into my room. I hopped into bed while Rags curled up on the warm, carpeted floor beside me. “Very clever!” I thought, “A weather dog that’s afraid of thunder!” I mumbled, before drifting off to sleep.
A Journey into the Unknown - Part Two
(Round Rock, TX)
I awoke at the crack of dawn the next morning more eager than usual. I wanted to get out to the barn as quickly as possible to check on the horses and make sure they were okay after the thunderstorm. “Come on, Rags!” I yelled, forgetting that my mother was still asleep.
I watched as Rags sprang up, barking eagerly. We raced out to the barn. Rags quickly followed me inside the barn which now smelled damper than usual. I quickly did my emergency morning roll call of all the horses to make sure no one had escaped that night. “Okay, you all know the drill!” I announced. “As I read off the list of names, you alert me, okay?” The horses all whinnied in agreement.
“Okay, now then!” The horses were all rocking back and forth on their hooves, anticipating eagerly with ears forward. “Oakey!” I said. He whinnied eagerly in response. “Piggy!” Piggy stomped her front hooves, reared, and let out a shriek filled whinny. “Ginger!” Ginger gave a loud earsplitting whinny. “Clove and Lucky!” I announced. No one stirred. “Clove and Lucky!” I roared. Beginning to panic, I walked over to their stall with Rags trailing along behind.
I leaned over the door. Clove greeted me but seemed upset. Lucky was nowhere to be seen! One side of their stall was busted through. Kneeling down, I examined the remains. “The boards have blackened ends on them” I remarked. “What could have happened here?” I wondered, then I remembered! Parts of the roof were made of metal. I immediately looked up at the roof. A big, gaping hole was burned into it. Then images of what might have had happened that night flashed inside my head like those of a movie projector.
I imagined the lightning bolt punching the metal, ripping, tearing and eating away at the metal roof until there was nothing left. The earsplitting screams of horses echoing across the barn and a terrified horse running, running far away! “That must have been Lucky!” I thought, “But where is she?” I stood there, dumbstruck. I had no idea where to even think of looking. Then I remembered that Lucky and her mother would always play in a nearby pond called “The Unknown.”
“Lucky, I know where she is!” I screamed out loud. “Rags stay here and keep guard!” I ordered as I hopped on Clove. “Come on, and let’s go bring your baby back!” We raced out of the barn as fast as a speeding bullet. We came to an abrupt halt as we came to the pond which now looked like a huge lake, full to the brim with cake-batter thick mud.
Suddenly, I saw Lucky. She was stranded in the middle, stuck in the mud, and slowly sinking as if quick sand was embedded in the mix. “Lucky!” I shrieked. I watched from afar, seeing her struggle hopelessly, but still sinking. “Wait! Don’t struggle!” I called. Desperately, I searched for something, anything. “Oh, what am I going to do?” I panicked, at a loss. My mind was desperately searching for anything that could give me some sort of an idea as to what to do. Pacing back and forth, I tried to think up a plan, stumbling over a dead tree branch in the process. “Stupid tree!” I shrieked in anger.
Stopping, I looked from Lucky to the branch to Lucky again. “Wait, that’s it!” I laughed in spite of my foolishness. Grabbing hold of the dead tree branch, I held it out to her. “Here!” I shouted. She was able to climb on the branch, and I began pulling her to the shore as hard as I could. As I pulled her in, she did a running leap toward me. I backed away, seeing her running at me caked in mud. I was both amazed and horrified.
“Lucky! You’re safe!” I cried. She did a running leap for me again. This time I embraced it not caring if my clothes got dirty. I hugged her and I rejoiced. “I thought I'd lost you,” I said softly. “Come on Lucky, let’s go home.” I got on Clove, and we headed home with Lucky following close behind.
After we got back to the barn, I noticed the roof had been repaired. I looked around, “Mom, did you repair the roof?”
“What? I can’t hear you, come here!” I followed the sound of her voice to the barn. She was inside feeding the rest of the horses their dinner. “What did you say?”
“I said did you fix the roof?”
“Aye and I replaced the roofing. There was a big hole in it!” Her voice sounded strange.
“Thanks, that was very nice of you,” I said. “You’re welcome!” The cheeriness in her tone was so unusual, I couldn’t get past it. “I figured I’d hold down the place for you while you were gone.” She looked at me for a long time. “Where were you anyway?”
“Well, one of the horses got out so I had to track her down.”<
“Was this horse’s name Lucky?”
“Yes,” I admitted.
“And you took Clove to help find her?”
“Yes,” I admitted again. “How did you know?”
“Easy,” she replied, “I saw that the two horses weren’t in their stalls.”
“Oh.” I said dumbfounded that she knew the horses’ names. “Hey, what did you fix the roofing with?”
“Wood, I replaced the metal with wood and I put up a lightning rod so now the barn can stand up to lightning and...” she paused. “And what?”
“No more holes” she chuckled. “Yay!” I cheered, overjoyed.
“Aye,” she sighed. “Let me help you put the horses back in their stalls, and then you and I can head in. Okay?”
“Sounds like a plan!” I exclaimed, helping her with the latch. Once the horses were in, I looked down at Lucky and Clove who were sound asleep. “Lucky,” I whispered softly. Lucky didn’t open her eyes. “Oh no!” I thought, “Not this again.” Lucky suddenly sneezed, spraying a mixture of saliva and mucus into the air. “Ugh,” I sighed in relief. Good, she’s breathing. “Goodnight my little miracle,” I whispered.
Leaving the barn, I started reminiscing about the day’s events, and I realized that this one event was a miracle in itself.