by Sisco's Gal
The night was still, and so quiet that Anne could hear it. She felt restless and couldn't get to sleep. Her alarm clock told her it was three minutes to midnight. Anne gave up trying to sleep and threw her covers off. The night was hot. She walked to the window, opened it, and leaned out. Below her lay the ranch where she worked as a stable hand.
She hesitated a moment, then went to her closet and got her clothes. She dressed and pulled on her jacket, then opened her door carefully and peeked out.
Everyone was asleep. Good. She walked noiselessly down the hall. Something bad was going to happen. She could feel it.
At the door, Anne paused to make sure that nobody had heard her. Then she unlocked the door and headed across the yard to the huge barn.
The ranch boarded horses, so the thirteen-year-old kept her horse here and worked as a stable hand to pay for it. Being a stable hand was a lot of fun.
Anne slid the bolt for the door out and went out. Someone was moving around in the tack shed. She froze then unfroze when Destiny, the ranch owner's daughter, walked out.
"What are you doing out here?" Anne asked.
Destiny laughed. "I could say the same for you," she said. "I'm just out here to see a horse Daddy bought at the auction. His name is Falcon."
"Wow." Anne stared at the huge, powerful black stallion standing in his stall. There was fear in his eyes. Destiny approached him carefully. He struck out at her.
Anne could hear Destiny breathing deeply. The 19-year-old lost her temper easily, although she definitely had a way with horses. That was a gift only certain people could understand, and Anne was one of them, so she was patient with Destiny.
Suddenly, Destiny turned on her. There was a look in her eyes that frightened Anne to her very bones.
"We have to get outta here, Anne!" She cried. "Take a horse!"
Anne reeled and looked back. Flames were filling the barn! She glanced around. Three horses were in their stalls. The rest were outside.
Three horses. Destiny's horse, Anne's horse, and the big powerful Falcon. One look told Anne that getting her horse out would be impossible.
Destiny was already almost out with her horse, Firefly. Without another thought, she let herself into Falcon's stall. He whinnied and reared, terrified. Anne grabbed his halter. He dragged her back into the stall.
The flames were nearing them. Suddenly, just in front of them, the roof caved in. I'm glad you pulled me back into your stall, Falcon, she thought.
Now there was only one escape route. Only one way out, and it was covered with burning chunks of wood from the caved-in roof.
In desperation, she leaped onto Falcon's back. "Go boy!" She sobbed, nudging him with her heels and clinging to his mane.
"Keep your head, girl. You’re doing good." She thought as he leaped forward.
Then they were through. Anne glanced back just in time to see the part of roof over Falcon's stable fall down. They had done it!
"Good boy!" Anne told Falcon as she slid off his back.
Anne stared in absolute horror. The truck and trailer that had arrived with Falcon was driving up.
Anne listened with dread as the crunch of gravel ended. A tall woman in a white coat and black leggings stepped out. A grim look was on her face.
A red haired girl dressed exactly like her mother, (Anne supposed it was her mother), and the same grim look followed.
Anne only stared, then went after them.
The kitchen door opened and the pair went in. Anne saw them sit down at the table before the door shut again. She listened at the door.
The conversation began.
"Allysa," it was the woman. "Do you think you can handle this horse?"
Then to the ranch owner's wife, "I suppose you heard that Falcon's owners wanted to sell him. I bought him for Allysa."
"Allysa, do you really want him?" The woman asked.
Allysa remained silent.
Anne felt herself begin to panic.
"Yes," said Allysa at last. "I want him."
Anne heard her digging in her wallet. There was silence, except for the rustle of cash. Then, "Thank you."
Anne ran from the door. She yanked on her coat and ran out the door. Tears streamed down her cheek as she leaned against Falcon's neck.
"You're going, Falcon!" she sobbed.
As if in answer, Falcon nuzzled the toe of her boot.