Mom was working late again. I was all alone in the apartment so, I snuck out again. It was like 40 degrees outside, but the discomfort of the freezing wind oddly calmed me. I gently shut the door behind me. Bits of frost crunched beneath my black converse as I made my way to the fence surrounding the apartment complex.
The fence was made of black, wrought iron and freezing cold. Most people walked by this fence every day, but none of them noticed that one bar was slightly bent, so any fifteen-old-girl could easily slip through, undetected. So, I often did.
I considered myself a nice enough person, but I kept to myself. I had one or two strictly school friends that I talked to, however, there was no one that I really trusted. I woke up. I went to school. I explored. I came home like I never left.
Maybe some people would have thought I lived a lonely existence. Maybe it was true. Family troubles had left a gaping hole in my heart, and for now, I ignored it and went about my exploring. Maybe my exploring was just me searching for purpose. Whatever, who knows.
At school, I didn’t pay really pay attention anybody, so nobody paid attention to me. And that’s the way I preferred things. I wore hoodies and skinny jeans happily. And converse proudly.
I crossed my arms and hugged them to my chest in order to keep the cold away. I swear I walked for at least a mile while looking at the night sky. I was searching for the stars. I couldn’t find them. I hadn’t been able to see them for a couple weeks now and it hadn’t even been cloudy.
For lack of looking at where I was going, I tripped over a stone in my path. I groaned as I felt blood seeping through the fabric of my new jeans on my right leg.
“Whatever,” I muttered under my breath. Things happen. And I wasn’t about to quit my personal adventure from one little scrape. I stood up, gasping from the pain. As I was about to take my first step I could have sworn I heard a donkey.
Curiosity, my main emotion, took over. I started walking down the hill on my right. The moon offered barely enough light for me to see where to step. I groaned when I realized at the bottom of the path was a stream. I quickly unlaced my converse and took off my socks. A little water wasn’t going to stop me from seeing a donkey for the first time.
The water was cold and the ground underneath it was unmistakably slimly. I literally only had to walk a couple feet to the other side. After a couple minute of walking, I could sort of make out a fence.
Pleased with myself, I scaled the fence. After years of climbing fences, you get pretty good at it. While I was swinging myself over, my left leg got caught on a nail sticking up. I cussed quietly while I unhooked my leg from the post. My left leg was in pain, but I shook it off.
“Cass, you can do this. Just suck it up.” I said and then realized I was in the middle of the field, talking to myself. To say I was embarrassed by myself was an understatement.
I sighed and took in my surroundings. Breathtaking, I had always been impressed by horse, but these horses were spectacular, and they were just eating. I took inventory quickly: Four horses, two donkeys, and a huge house on top of a hill with open windows that were spilling light over their land. I felt an envious tug in my chest. I bet it was a family that ate together and had a quaint little game night once a week.
Forget them. I flipped my hood up. Anger was seeping through me. I channeled my anger into bravery and I stepped up to the brown horse closest to me.
“They're perfect aren’t they?” I asked the horse softly.
“I mean I’m not jealous or anything. I totally happy for you though. You seem happy.” I absently stroked the horse sleek coat.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing on my property?”
Have you walked up to a squirrel and they become so still you wonder if they are even breathing? It’s like if they stand still long enough, you won’t be able to see them anymore. Then you step further towards them and the bolt over to the nearest tree.
That’s exactly what I did. But, when I was about to vault over the fence the man behind me tackled me. Like, full on took me down. My hood fell off my hair and the person who caught me quickly sprung off my back. My platinum hair fell into my face as I turned around.
In front of me stood a boy roughly around the age of fifteen or seventeen. He looked shocked. I swear I almost laugh, I controlled into though, but sadly the humor of it manifested itself into a smirk.
The boy collected himself and proudly stuck his chin in the air and offered me a hand. I took it involuntarily. I tried to pull my hand away, but he held on. It was far from a romantic gesture. It was more of a vice-like hold.
“I’ll ask you again. What are you doing on my property?” His voice was icy.
Every fiber of me wanted to tease him and say something about it’s actually Daddy’s property, but I had to stick to my methods. I kept my face placid, despite the pain of my knee bleeding out.
This wasn’t the first time I had been caught for trespassing and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. For times like these I had perfected the perfect formula: short answers, plus pleasant demeanor, plus staying as close to the truth as possible, equaled getting off the hook.
“I heard your donkey and thought something terrible had happened,” I said slipping on a worried veneer onto my face.
“Yeah.” He said sarcastically, “That's why you were petting Wonder Woman?”
Yes, the perfect opportunity to divert the conversation away from my sketchy habits. “You named your horse Wonder Woman?” I asked incredulously.
“No of course not!” He responded, acting rather flustered. My plan was working.
“I mean, my little brother did.” He brushed his dark hair out of his face.
“That's his favorite superhero or something?” I questioned feigning interest.
“You know, enough about my little brother and my horses. What are you doing trespassing on property that's, not yours.”
Fine, if he was going to play that way. “I was curious. Is that so wrong?” I blinked twice.
“You realized you will have to pay for trespassing.” He said smoothly, having caught onto my game.
“Okay, what’s on the table?”
“This isn’t a negotiation.”
“Fine,” I replied calmly.
“Everyday after school for two months you will have to come here and act as my own personal stable hand.” He said raising his eyebrow as if daring me to argue.
“Two months!” I exclaimed losing my even composure for a second.
“Fine, three. Do you want the number to keep going up?”
“Good, my name is Clayton and I expect to see you here at 4:00 sharp tomorrow.” He held out his hand.
“Deal.” I shook it begrudgingly.
“What’s your name?” Clayton questioned.
“Cass,” I said and stalked away.