Dakota, Noah and Me
My boots were caked with orange clay mud as I walked down the rocky, muddy road. Under my arm, I held three wooden planks and my right hand was occupied with a jar of nails and a hammer. I wore a black rain jacket, camo ball cap, blue jeans, and fairly worn brown cowboy boots.
It had just stopped raining ten minutes earlier so everything was wet and the air smelled fresh and earthy. A rainbow decorated the sky. It reminded me of the story of Noah's ark and God's steadfast promises.
After a couple of minutes of walking, I came upon a mighty oak tree whose sturdy branches reached out in every direction.
"Perfect," I said with an approving grin. I gently laid my supplies down by the base of the tree and started to climb up it. The climb was rough with limbs poking me in the eyes and slick bark preventing me to climb with a sure grip. I thought of every tree I climbed as a challenge that I just needed to conquer. With every higher branch the urge to reach the top grew.
I was just a couple of branches away from reaching the top when I heard something in the woods. I froze in mid reach. Suddenly, two options came to mind - either scurry up the rest of the tree or climb down to face whatever was in the woods. I chose option number two.
As I half slid and half climbed down the tree, I could hear the fast, pounding sound getting louder. I couldn't decide whether I was being brave or dumb for doing this as I slid down the tree trunk and landed with a thud. The pounding sound was at its loudest and for a brief moment I thought I was imagining things.
There before me was a rearing horse. It was clearly spooked so I stood up from my awkward position on the ground and started walking toward it with my arms outstretched horizontally. It acted as if it would keep rearing but it soon calmed down though it's eyes were still filled with fear. I started to rub it's neck and talk to it in soothing tones.
"Where's your owner?" The horse was a strawberry roan appaloosa mare and roughly fifteen hands high. Her mane and tail were tangled in burrs. Her nostrils flared and her neck was wet with sweat. When she was completely calm I realized I didn't know what to do. I had just found a horse in the woods.
I was racking my brain for a solution to my problem. In the midst of my thinking, I didn't notice a figure walking toward me from behind.
"What!?" I spun around my heart beating out of my chest. The roan jerked her head up in alarm. In front of me was a boy with dirty blond hair and green eyes. He was roughly my height perhaps an inch or two taller. He wore jeans, a navy blue T-shirt and brown leather hiking boots.
"Who are you?" I asked with a straight face.
"Noah. I live on the other side of these woods. That's my horse." He pointed to the roan who was now nuzzling his sleeve.
"Oh. Why was she out alone?" He gave his horse a quick inspection for injuries as I spoke.
"She broke out of our paddock two days ago. Who are you?"
"Kelley. Kelley Rosalind Price." He stood up and faced me.
"Is your family the one who just moved here?" He bent down and picked up her hoof.
"Uh, yeah. How did you know?" The boy's expression looked a little amused.
"It's a small town. Thanks for catching Dakota for me. I'll see you around." He slipped a brown leather halter onto his horse and attached a lead rope. They left in the opposite direction leaving me staring at the mare with longing. I silently wondered if I would ever see them both again.
For the rest of the afternoon, after Dakota and Noah had left, I built steps up the trunk of the oak tree. This was the beginning of my tree house where I would have many adventures. I had no more boards and no more nails therefore I decided to head back to the house.
As I began to walk up the dirt road I thought back at what happened earlier that afternoon. The image of Dakota rearing was implanted in my thoughts. I wanted to see her again and stroke her beautiful coat.
"At least I know where she is," I told myself. I knew she was with her owner Noah. I hoped that I would see them both again.
The sun was gradually being blocked from view by a brooding cloud. I stopped and breathed in deeply through my nose. I could smell rain. I quickened my pace hoping to beat the rain I knew was coming. The sky quickly became dark and grey and rain began to lightly fall. I put my hood over my head and started to jog my way home.
Lightning crashed in the distance. My heart jumped as I heard rumbling above me. The rain was now drizzling heavily. After a couple of minutes I could finally see my house in the distance. I sprinted toward it as the wind and rain blew in my face.
I had reached the house and as I was just about to step inside I heard a yelp behind me. I turned around and searched the wide lawn with my eyes. Though I couldn't see anything I heard the yelp again. I desperately wanted to go inside out of the cold but I also wanted to save whatever was out there yelping. I stepped off the porch and headed out into the raging storm.
On one side of our lawn there were trees and bushes. The yelping was loudest on that side of the lawn. As I searched I glanced upon something sleek and brown in the bushes.
"What?" I pulled back the branches and set my eyes on a beautiful chocolate lab. I quickly scooped him up and ran inside.
"Dad!" I said with excitement as I kicked off my boots in the laundry room. "Mom!" I hurried into the family room and held out the puppy in front of my parents. Their faces were shocked and confused.
"Where have you been? Are you okay? Where did you get this dog?!" My mom sat up from the coach as she hammered me with questions.
"I've been out exploring. You said I could remember? I was coming back but I got caught in the storm and then I heard something yelping and I found this dog!"
"Kelley, go to the laundry room and grab an old towel. Take the dog to the sink and clean it off." I obeyed my father and did exactly as he told me. My parents sat at the kitchen table as I tended to the puppy.
"Mom, Dad? May I keep em'?" My parents gave each other the "what do you think" look and sat there silently.
"We'll think about it." My dad said breaking the silence.
"Either keep it in your room or in the bathroom for the night."
"Yes ma'am." I cradled the puppy in my arms as I headed up the stairs to my room. I gently put it on the towel in my bathroom then changed out of my wet clothes. I fell back on my bed and thought about everything that had happened that day.
"Maybe living here in Good Hope, Georgia won't be so bad after all."
"Kelley, I'm going to the store, I'll be back in thirty minutes!" My mom called out from downstairs informing me about her departure.
I sat up in bed and looked out my bedroom window. The sun shone brightly with the promise of an exciting day.
I got ready and headed downstairs and was greeted by the aroma of oatmeal coffee cake. There on the kitchen counter was a chewy piece laid out for me on a plate. I scarfed down my breakfast and quietly walked to my dad's study. He sat in his brown, leather arm chair reading a book.
"Good morning dad. May I go down to the woods after I feed the dog and all?"
He put down his book and stood up.
"Actually, I already found the owner of that dog."
I was surprised then confused.
"One of the neighbors this morning called asking about a chocolate lab puppy. I told him we found one and that we would drop it off as soon as possible."
"Oh." I followed my father out of the study with a small feeling of disappointment. I hoped that the puppy would be mine. I let out a sigh and went back to my room to get the dog. It still slept on the towel where I had left it the night before. A random cardboard box was on the floor so it seemed like the perfect way to carry the peacefully sleeping puppy.
I slipped on my brown cowboy boots then briskly walked to the driveway where the pick up was already outside. I hopped up into the front seat as my dad cranked up the car.
After a ten-minute drive with woods rushing past us on either side of the road, we drove up a steep driveway that led to a beautiful, quaint house with its porch decorated with delicate flowers.
I was already opening the car door before the pick up came to a full stop. I walked quickly up to the front door, knocked twice, then took a step back.
Suddenly, in the distance I heard a horse whinny. I froze and everything in me wanted to find the source of that whinny. Then the front door slowly opened and I was even more stunned than I was before.
"Noah!" There standing before me was the boy from the woods. I suddenly gasped realizing that the whinny came from Dakota the beautiful strawberry roan appaloosa mare I had found the day before.
We stood there in awkward silence for a few moments until my dad came walking up the porch steps.
"Hi, I'm Carson Price. I believe this dog belongs to you?" My dad shook hands with Noah as Noah stepped out onto the porch.
Before Noah could answer a man that looked like an older version of him appeared at the door.
"Hello, I'm Blake Fowler." The man introduced himself and shook hands with me and my dad. As the two older men started to talk and lose themselves in that kind of conversation only adults can understand, Noah removed himself from the scene and came to me.
"Do you wanna see Dakota?" My heart jumped at his question and everything in me was screaming YES!
"Um, sure." I answered simply. I gently put down the box then followed him down a dirt path that led to a paddock where Dakota tranquilly grazed. He sat upon the fence while I simply stood on the bottom rung.
"So, do you like horses?" He asked me keeping his eyes on Dakota.
"You have no idea."Continued in Comments section...