I woke up as the bus went over a large pothole, and proceeded to make its way down a very bumpy road. I looked around at the jolting heads of the few people left on the bus, as they tried to keep from flying off their seats. I glanced a look at the bus driver, and for my astonishment he was looking right at me, his dark eyes piercing mine with his glare. I quickly looked away and turned my head to look out the window. The sun was setting behind the black brick houses, giving the sky an eerie glow and casting shadows upon the tall buildings. I let my mind wander to the events of the weekend. I remembered mine and his goodbyes as we reassured each other that we were only a two-hour bus trip away.
My stomach growled as I remembered it had been a while since I had last eaten. I went through my bag only to find a half eaten granola bar. As I was putting the bar to my lips, the bus jumped and my head turned to the front of the bus, where my eyes met again with the bus driver. My heart started to race, something about the way he was looking at me made me nervous, very nervous. I put one of my braids into my mouth as I so often do when I get anxious.
We arrived at a bus stop, at which everyone except for me departed. I looked around nervously wondering if I should leave with everyone else, but my bus stop was the next one to come. It was pitch black outside, and as the doors opened and the departing people said their thanks to the bus driver, a cold breeze hit my face. I stood up in a panic as everyone was leaving, but as I looked outside, the dark alleyways that I would have to pass in order to get home made me not want to leave the bus, my feet in fact were frozen to the spot. The doors shut and I slowly sat back down keeping my eyes on the bus driver. I looked outside and clasped my hands together. Only ten minutes and I’d be home, safe, at home.
I looked to the front of the bus, the turn to my stop was only one turn away. I looked at the bus driver and he looked at me, and for the first time he gave me a smile. It wasn’t a toothy grin, it was more of a sly smirk, but whatever it was, gave me shivers up and down my spine. I looked out the front window again, I wasn’t a 100% sure due to the darkness outside, but the feeling I had in my gut told me that the bus driver had taken the wrong turn.
As if by magic there he was, sitting on his white horse right in front of me, my prince charming. The only problem being, not a single word had been spoken between us, his eyes had not even met mine. I watched him from behind the trees, as he leaped off his white horse and knelt down by the small creek to refill his canister. I clenched the ax in right hand and took a step forward holding in my left hand a basket of twigs on which lay one red rose. A twig cracked beneath by foot. He jumped, one foot falling into the shallow water.
“Who’s there!” He demanded, climbing out of the creek. He rushed over to his horse and pulled out a shiny sword. Blushing I stepped out from the bushes and trees.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to startle you. I was merely gathering some twigs for a fire.”
“That’s all right.” He said lowering his sword, giving me a twinkling smile. My heart fluttered in place. He loves me, I thought to myself, his smile says it all.
“Where are you coming from?” I asked him taking a step forward.
“I’m on my way to meet my princess.” He said puffing up his chest. His words hit me like a sack of bricks, and the smile on my face turned. He looked at me and tilted his head.
“Is something wrong?”
I avoided his question and asked, “And who is this lucky princess?” The words came from between my clenched teeth as I tapped my fingers against the ax.
“Rose. Yes, she is the most beautiful girl in all the land.”
“Is that so?” I asked scoffing. He looked at me puzzled.
“But of course.” This foolish man, he thought Rose, sweet princess Rose, to be the most beautiful girl in all the land. “Not a single person compares to her beauty” He continued. My hand flew to the raggedy scarf on my head. I flung it off revealing my long wavy hair.
“Oh my, you look awfully familiar.” He exclaimed. I looked deep into his eyes.
“How about now. Does anyone now compare to her beauty.” His dumbfounded eyes looked at me with a foolish twinkle.
“What on earth are you on about?” He asked as I shook my head.
“Imaging me in Rose’s luxurious dresses and jewelry.” He tilted his head once more and look straight at me. All of a sudden he cried.
“Rose! Is that you?” He said running to me. “Why are you wearing such rags, I could hardly recognize you.” I pushed him off.
“I’m not Rose you fool!” He took a step back.
“But of course you are. You are just dressed like a peasant.”
“No! I’m Autumn… Her twin sister.” His hand flew to his mouth as he gasped. He stepped back as if to observe me from afar.
“When looking at you close and with your hair down you look just like beautiful Rose, but from afar in these rags, one would mistake you for any peasant.” I looked at him, my prince charming’s charm fading from my eyes.
“You and everyone like you are the reason I live in the woods,” I muttered to myself.
“What was that?” Instead of answering him I gave him a stern glare, as I tapped my fingers one last time against my ax.
Your head spins slower on your neck, it knows the answers now
Bugs grow thicker through clenched teeth
Faint humming follows you everywhere you go, though you don’t go far
Cold breezes eat away at thoughts
You get up to leave, to escape the heavy void in your living room
The ash grows thicker on your pillow
A young boy turns slowly into a heron, “they can’t touch you if they’re not there”, he whispers before flying off
The shadows are getting tired
You get into your car and drive, there are no roads but somehow you find yourself at a diner
You sit at your table and stare at the walls, a pale waitress brings you tea in heavy silence, but it sizzles and evaporates as it reaches your lips
A sign behind the door reads “please, don’t touch me” before melting into a worm and fading through the walls
You need to leave
You walk past blue lemon trees growing thin clusters of grapes around the branches
You often eat them off the ground to confuse the taste of blood in your mouth
You look to the moon but it won’t look back, it knows what you’ve done
The bruises grow darker on your walls
You turn away
Hollow eyes wander as rusty hatchets drag against the ground
Do you ever stop to look at all the skin you gather?
Cross-stitched mouths shut tight, they look to you and whisper “careful, under her shoes are her feet” before slinking slowly back into their creaky holes
The humming grows louder these days, broken glances flicker between strangers
You can’t throw stones forever.
I started going to Club Essence about two months ago, and I have tried to make appearances there at least three times a week since, but I can usually squeeze in one or two more. How could I not? It’s the most kicking club out there, with the best disco music selection on the planet. I recently turned twenty three and life has never felt so good. I make a good living for a young man in the city. As reporter for one of the local news stations, so I’ve been able to afford a nice apartment in the city, overlooking the monorail and the nature park. Yes sir, life is great.
“You going to the Club again tonight?” my boss said on the phone to me. I had just wrapped up an interview with a local police officer talking about the dangers of taking acid, after he found some poor kid hiding in a gutter yelling about razor tooth monkeys or something crazy like that.
“I agree boss, formal greetings are overrated, it’s good to start conversations with a personal question.” I replied.
“Cut the crap Mattson. Are you going to the club or not?” my boss asked again
“I am. Why do you want to know?”
“I want you to get the scoop on that rumour you told me about. It sounds like something worth reporting about.”
I was stunned. I had told the boss a few days ago about the rumour that was circling around the city recently. Apparently, nobody had ever seen the DJ at Club Essence. This triggered my interest, so I told the boss about it, hoping he would let me pursue this story.
“You’ve got it, big man. I’ll have the story into you by Monday.” It was Friday.
“Alright Mattson. I’m counting on it.” *click*
I hopped in my car and booked it home to get changed. I was already tuned to 102.6 Disco Central, and “Don’t Let Go” by Isaac Hayes blasting through the radio waves. “You’ve got to be kidding. I love this song.” For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to speed all the way home, but that quickly changed when I almost hit a pickup truck coming through an intersection.
I got home around seven thirty, and the sun was setting, giving the whole city a bright golden glow. I grabbed a snack out of the fridge, took a quick shower and threw on my best clothes before I left for the club. “Tonight is your night Jerry,” I said to myself as I pulled into my usual parking spot at the side of Essence
I could see the line for the club. It was going to be busy tonight. I luckily know the bouncer, Donny. “Hey Jerry I’ll let you in through the back.” he shouted to me as I approached him. So, I took a stroll to the alley behind the two story building. I knocked twice and the door flew open like a giant gorilla punched it of the hinges. I fell over. “What the hell Donny? You knocked me flat on my ass.”
“Sorry Jerry. I’m pretty tense tonight. It’s going to be really busy and I don’t do so well under pressure.”
“Okay, no worries my man.”
“Here, let me help you up.” He picked me up like I was a twig.
I went down the hallway and ended up in the VIP room with some people who obviously had just been doing something illegal. I laughed because they looked really nervous, like I was a cop or something. Idiots. I left through the door opposite me, and stepped into the dance room. The party had already started, and it was a big one. The dance floor was loaded, the bar was packed, the music was loud and the DJ was nowhere to be seen. The DJ was there, but whoever it was, was hidden behind one way glass in front of the DJ booth. I walked over to the bar, and ordered a mojito. I took it with me and walked over to door to the booth.
“What?” a woman’s voice responded.
“My name is Jerry Mattson, I was hoping to get an interview with the DJ of this club.”
“Okay sure,” she said. Well that was easy.
“…if you can dance to the next song I play, I’ll let you in.” Oops. not so easy.
“The next song you play?” I muttered
“Yes you dimwit, I’m the DJ. Who else did you think was in here?”
“Right” I said
I walked down to the dance floor and stood in the middle, waiting for the song. I started to dance with one of the women around me, so I wasn’t bored. Also I might have weirded people out if I just stood there. The song eventually came to an end, and it was time to put my moves to work, but the next song didn’t start.
“Everyone clear the dancefloor.” her voice said on the speakers. Then all of a sudden, I was alone. I looked around me and all of the dancing people were standing around the dancefloor.
“What song Jerry?” the DJ said. I was absolutely stunned. “What song? Let’s go.” She repeated.
“FIRE” I yelled without thinking.
“By the Ohio Players?”
“Yes.” ”Oh no,” was all I could think.
The song was playing. “FIIIIIIIIIYYYAAAA.” I started to dance. I could feel the vibrations and I could hear the music. I was on “FIIIIIIIIIYYYAAAA.” It was strange, because as I danced, all the people seemed to vanish. It was as if nobody else was in the room, just me and the DJ. It felt real. The ending siren sounded, and the song was over. Applause filled the room. I looked around the room and I could not spot a single person.
“Not bad” the DJ said from behind the glass.
“Where is everybody?” I asked her.
“You can come in now.” I heard the lock undo. What the hell was going on here? I walked over to the door. Whoever was behind here knew the answer.
I pushed the door open and took a few steps inside. It was empty. I was officially creeped out at thethat point. I walked over to the giant wall of records and looked at her selection. They were all blank. Not a single one had cover art or a record label. Nothing. I heard the door close behind me.
“You probably want to know what’s going on, right?” she said as I turned around.
“You’re damn right I want to know what’s going on, where did all of those people go?” I sputtered angrily. Immediately after saying this, I wished I hadn’t. At least, not in as rude of a way. Standing in front of me, was a stunning young woman. She was the kind of woman that could put any man into a trance and make them do her every bidding without a second thought. A woman in control.
“I can’t really tell you what’s happening here, but if you would like, I can show you.”
“Yes please.” I replied, stupefied.
She walked over to the wall, picked up a record and placed it on the turntable. The music started with a “BrrrRRRRR,” sort of noise. Through the window, I could see all of the people return. Not through the doors of the club or the backroom, they just returned out of nowhere.
“So?” I said
“Well…” she said. “This place is a hangout for ghosts.” She said this as if it cleared everything up and I understood now.
“That’s not it is it?”
“Umm…yeah that’s it.”
I was almost as ticked off as I was mesmerized.
“You mean to tell me that I’ve been partying it up with ghosts for the past two months?”
“What are you thick in the ears?” This girl had no concept of the term “break it to them softly.”
“Look, I’ll explain more later but I have to do my job right now. You can hang out in the club until I get off work.”
“I’m staying right here until I know EXACTLY what’s going on.”
“That’s fine. ”
I must have been sitting there for hours but it felt like minutes, everything was moving pretty fast. My eyes became dazed and all the movement inside and outside the booth became a blur. I couldn’t make out the music because I was slowly passing out. The last thing I saw before I fell asleep, was the DJ smiling at me from across the room.
I was being shaken.
“Hey, I’m off now!” she said
Too much shaking, “Stop Stop it!” It was her. “What time is it?”
“Three in the morning. The dead don’t sleep, but I do. And you’re going to walk me home.”
“Alright.” I said
She locked up her booth from the inside and we went out the back door. Donny locked up the rest of the club. At least he’s not a ghost. We started walking down the alley and I remembered I drove my car here.
“I have my car, I can just drive you home.”
“I’d prefer to walk. My house is only a couple blocks away, and I’ll have more time to explain.”
“Alright, so spill the beans.”
“Well, I already told you that they are ghosts, and that’s all I can say about that. I’m not a scientist or a spiritual guru so I can’t give you any reason why there are ghosts, I can just tell you that they exist. What I can tell you is why they come to the club.”
“Go on.” I implored. I really wanted to know.
“The ghosts who come to the club aren’t centuries old or anything like that. They are all recently deceased. A lot of them would be our age if they weren’t, well, among the buried folk. Some died in car accidents, some in house fires; you know, the usual “died too early unfortunate accident” stuff. So, they come to the club to enjoy all those years of fun they would have missed otherwise. I guess they are still missing them in a sense, but this is the best they can do, being ghosts and all.”
“How did you get mixed up in this?”
“I was the DJ here before they died, so they decided to keep letting me spin my records.”
“The fact that they’ve risen from the dead didn’t freak you out?”
“Of course it did! I was so scared. I locked myself in the bathroom and tried to convince myself it wasn’t happening. That didn’t work because they just floated through the door and tried to calm me down. Ha! You can imagine how that went.”
“Why haven’t you…”
“This way to my place.”
She turned up an alleyway and cut me off mid sentence. It started to rain so we ran and laughed all the way to her apartment. It was only a ten minute walk from the club to her place, but I knew I wanted to see this girl again after one second of talking to her.
“This is it. Do you want to come in and get out of the rain?” she said
“No thank you, I need to head home. I mean of course I want to, but not yet. We’ve only just met.” I replied, and I felt gentlemanly. She smiled.
“Well Jerry Mattson, I’m very glad to have met you.”
“I’d like to see you again” I blurted out.
“You will Jerry, hahaha. You know where I live and where I work.”
“So long for now mister reporter.”
“I’ll stop by soon. Really soon.” I said. I was being a total dork, but she liked it.
“My name is Jessie Starling by the way. You forgot to ask my name.” She walked upstairs, and I started walking back to my car.
When I sat down in my car, I heard a click in my shirt pocket. It was my recorder. I took it out and looked at it. The tape was full. It must have turned on when I fell to sleep in the dj booth. I realised that I had the greatest story of all time, right in the palm of my hand. Everything was on there. This was the story that would cement me in the history books.
I sat in my car for a few hours and watched the sun rise. I decided what to do. I took the tape out of the tape recorder, and threw it in the garbage bin across from my car.
“I’ll find another story.” I said; and I drove away.
Do you or someone you know live alone with more than four cats? That makes you a crazy cat lady/man. It’s time to change. Instead of cats you need chickens. Chickens will be perfect for you; they are friendly, cute and cuddly. You are able to leave chickens alone for hours without having to worry about them, or your house; just like your cat. Everything you love about your cats, you will love about your chickens. Chickens make eggs you will never need to buy them again! Chickens also give you a better image, you will no longer be a crazy cat lady. You will just be saving money on eggs and giving homes to chickens. Chickens are the perfect solution to being a crazy cat lady.
Spassky and Fischer continue to face off in the most anticipated chess match in history, but people are more concerned with…
Who killed those two flies…and why?
The Russians were suspicious that Fischer was using electronic devices or radiation to sabotage Spassky’s play, but it turns out that something even more sinister had taken place. When the Russians X-rayed and stripped down the chair, instead of finding electronic devices or radioactive residue, they found two dead flies. Now these two flies may have been killed by accident, but evidence suggests otherwise. Forensics have shown that the blunt force trauma which caused the deaths of the flies were not from Spassky squashing them with his large Russian bum, but were in fact two separate incidences carried out by hand. Fingerprints from many different people are all over the chair, which makes the odds of catching the killer slim to none. Officials are saying that waiting until the killer strikes again may be our only chance. One of our reporters had a opportunity to speak with a local fly about the situation. “VZZZZBZZZGZZZ” the fly said. A troubling day for her and her family. We will be keeping you up to date as details about the case are released.
Have you ever had that nightmare where you are running as fast as you can but that monster chasing you just keeps getting closer? This was just like that thing problem was just getting closer and closer. It was like I was watching it all happen in slow motion.
The Gold Bus was just coming down the road, doing its job, transporting people to where they need to be. Closer and closer, it wasn’t stopping. I closed my eyes and looked away. There it was, the hard impact, the crash, the sound of glass shattering and crashing to the pavement. I looked up, hoping that I wouldn’t see it that it was all in my head; it was there just as bad as I had expected, and it was horrible. The entire front of the bus was smashed in, the windshield completely gone, shards of glass were splattered on the road surrounding the front of the bus. I knew it the bridge was to low for the bus to fit under and now there are people stuck in there.
I couldn’t look away. It was to horrible people were gathering around to see what happened. Everybody trying to help but not knowing how. Finally, the police and paramedics showed up and pushed everyone back. I watched and they pulled person after person out of the bus. None of them seemed to be seriously hurt. How was that possible? The bus crashed into a bridge! I crept over to hear what one of the people in the bus were saying, “I don’t think the driver realized until it was too late he tried to slow down I think but I remember someone on the bus say to get our heads down and take cover. It was instinct – I dove under the chairs and I think that might have saved my life.”
I also heard one of the police say to a paramedic that there were four people trapped in the bus but not one was dead! They were able to get everyone safely out of the bus. All fifteen people that were on that bus were able to get out of the bus alive and with relatively minor injuries. It all happened so quickly but it felt like I was there watching for days, and I’m sure it felt even longer for the people in the bus. The people in the bus survived! They say that in itself is a miracle … a dream worth having.
I woke up at 7:00am and began preparing for the day, I brushed my teeth and combed my hair in the bathroom in front of the mirror. I had a strange feeling that someone was watching me but obviously there was no-one there. My wife had already left this morning and the house was empty now. I pushed the thought from my mind, and continued to get ready for the day. I picked my favourite pair of pants and a shirt, pairing it with a pull over sweater. I ate my cereal and washed my bowl afterwards. I left the house and it was a perfect day the sun was shining and it was warm with a cool breeze. Across the road, my neighbours were leaving for work.
“Hello Truman” they called
“Good morning” I called back to them, strange. I say hello to them every morning but I never leave the house at the same time but they are always there no matter when I leave the house. Just coincidence I guess. My other neighbour is also out this morning just like every other morning with his dog.
“Hello there” I called to him
“Hello Truman” he said “Good morning”
I got in my car and left the driveway, and I got the same feeling I got this morning. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up, someone was watching me but there was no one around. I reached the middle of the city where I worked. As I got closer and closer to the center of the city there were more people around.
Was that the same person I was one block ago? And that bicycle? Yes, those were definitely the same people, I kept going, wait! That was them again! That is so weird … they are for sure the same people; coincidence? I parked my car in its usual spot and went to get the paper, same as every morning, but this morning something was different, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched by everyone around me, like they were waiting for something and I was going to give it to them. I walked up to the front door of my building but then, looked across the street and saw three people coming out the elevator of the building across the street. Wait.. the back of the elevator was hollow and lead to another room. I crossed the road quickly and ran into the building hoping on one would stop me.
No-one noticed me at first and I made it right to the elevator, then people started to notice me. They were coming from every side and I ran for the elevator, when the door slide open the back of the elevator is a false door and there were sandwiches and people sitting in the room behind the elevator, they were watching something on a monitor. Not something; me! They were watching me!
I was removed from the building by two large men in suits. They must have been the security guards. Oh… that must be it, that was just a back room in the building and the security camera feed linked up to those monitors. They wouldn’t have been watching me, that’s crazy! Right?
I had to go talk to Fred, my best friend since kindergarten; he will know what is going on and what to do. Instead of going up to the building I work in I got back in my car and drove down the road to the grocery store where he was working, I walked up to him and told him everything that I had noticed, but he didn’t seem to care at all, he said I was being crazy, no one was watching me and that maybe I should go home and lie down for a bit. That sounded like a good idea, but there was still felt very wrong.
I raced home I went into the basement and pulled out all my most important belongings and held them up. There was a picture of the first girl I loved back in high school, but she moved away and I have never seen it since, wait! Before she left she was telling me something as her dad dragged her away, she said “Truman they are watching, everyone is watching you, leave this place, they control everything.” Then it hit me there were people out there that were controlling my whole life and I needed to get out of here. If people were really watching my every move I would have to be very sneaky about it. I pretended to fall asleep in the basement and switched myself out from where I was lying with a Christmas ornament about the same size then crawled out out the house staying behind furniture or going underneath different things. I ran all the way to the docks and got a boat out. I had been a been afraid of the ocean when I thought my dad had drowned but if everything had been set up in my life by other people I guess that he hadn’t really drown and it was just a part of their plan. I got in the boat and sailed it straight at the horizon line. I was not going to turn around until I reached the end.
I kept going and going for hours, it felt like I was never going to reach the end. I still just kept going, I was not going to turn around until I got to the end. I waited for a few more hours it felt like the boat stopped. I ran to the front of the boat and there was a wall. I made it to the end! There was a small strip of ground on the outside the water not reaching the outer edge of the dome. As I stepped out there was a voice.
“Truman, don’t leave, I have created this place for you. The whole world knows who you are, we have watched you grow up, we have been there through everything with you.” the voice said.
“But it wasn’t real. None of it was real, my whole life has been a lie!” I called into the air.
“No Truman you were real, that is why people kept watching the show. You are real. Stay the world in here that I have created is better than it is out here. People out here lie and cheat and steal, in there you are safe from everything. Truman, you need to stay … this is where you belong.” the voice said
I guess he had a point everything I have ever done is real even if the other people are not. I also have no idea what is out there and if people are really as horrible as he says maybe he was right, maybe there was no place for me out there. In here I am safe from everything, but I am under the constant eye of people. I thought about it for a long time and finally settled on staying, this is all I have ever known and leaving now seemed silly, I would stay and live my life with my wife and I would live happy from now on knowing that if I ever do need to leave I know how to get out.
I walk back towards the boat and climb in, turn it around and start to head back into my world.
“That’s right Truman you know where you belong and where life is better. We will be watching you and keeping you safe. Be happy Truman, and if you ever want to leave you are free to do so, but we will not be there to protect you if you do go. Speed up the boat Truman or you will be late for work. Goodbye Truman.”
(Based on The Truman Show)
“Whisper of the heart” is another one of Studio Ghibli’s outstanding movies, it is not their most recognized film but incredible nevertheless. “Whisper of the Heart” is a romance that deals with affairs of the heart of a young girls as her love interest leaves the country. It is a hand drawn movie, like all of the Studio Ghibli movies and has fantastic scenery in the setting of Tokyo. Whisper of the heart may be a romance however it has many other themes relating to the girls disbeliefs in her talents and determination of her goal. I love this movie because of the very relatable characters and problems they encounter. This movie is very enjoyable and relatable on many levels, because, it is not just another love story, it deals with the human struggles of determination and self acceptance. If not for the romans “Whisper of the Heart” is worth watching for the incredible character development and the connections they make with the viewers.
It came in flashes, a blast of lightning, reminding me. My stomach was then lifted and flung to the floor. Every muscle in my body froze, a shiver ran down my spin. The sky was gleefully sunny despite what was to come. I let out a low whine, it filled the room and echoed back to me. I glared at my heart on the floor, it had abandoned me. I was on my toes, being lifted up, just waiting to be dropped. With my head in my hands I let out a sigh. I’m not ready to be taken away. To be handcuffed to a desk. To release my freedom. Overwhelmed with the thought, I was paralyzed and stayed that way for quite a length of time. A call came down the hall. I had to go and face it with dignity. I tred up the stairs. Another Monday.
It was finally Friday! Rowan had been waiting for the end of the week since Monday morning. Every week it was just a constant cycle of doing her best to make it to Friday, trying to find the little things to get her through the day. Today all of her thoughts were concentrated on the long weekend, there was no school on Monday!
She was sitting at the very back of the bus trying her hardest not to attract people’s attention, even what she was wearing was plain. Dark blue jeans, a plain black t-shirt, a long gray sweater and a black rain jacket, all things that people will just pass over without thinking anything of it. She had her silver blonde hair tied in a sleek ponytail at the top of her head. Rowan leaned her head up against the window, she looked out and saw a blanket of snow covering the ground. She also looked for her stop, she just wanted to get home.
Her family had just moved to a small town called Golden. Everybody here knew everyone, and everything about every person, and she was the outsider; and her family the topic of conversation in the town. Her new school was small. All the people in her class had known each other since they were younger than five years old and she was finding it very difficult to try and make friends with people. Her older sister, Jordan, had no problem making new friends, she was making friends wherever she went and Rowen was very jealous of that. She wished it would be as easy for her as it was for Jordan.
Her stop was coming up on the bus and she pulled the cord. There were only a few buses in Golden and they were mainly used by students going to and from school, not that many people around to transport. The buses only went on the main roads so Rowan was going to have to walk to the outer edge of Golden to get home, but she didn’t mind. She liked to walk and there are not many people around and few cars so she doesn’t have to concentrate as much as she would have done in New Westminster, where she lived before. As she hopped of the bus she said a quiet “Thank you” to the bus driver and pulled her gloves out of her jacket pocket and tightening her coat around her tiny frame. She was only 5’3 and built very small, people tended not to notice her, and she as happy being invisible.
She turned right at the next road she came up to, her mind began to wander. She started thinking about what she missed in New Westminster and how much she wished she could go back. Then realized there wasn’t anything there left to miss. Rowan’s best friend Jamie had stopped talking to her just before she moved and it was still hard for Rowan to believe.
Jamie and Rowan had been best friends since they met in kindergarten, they had been inseparable ever since until Rowan had told Jamie that she was moving. Instead of trying to spend more time with Rowan, Jamie had stopped talking to Rowan and made new friends. Rowan saw this coming once they started high school two years ago. She could feel Jamie distancing herself from her, but once Jamie found out about the move they never talked again. Rowan guesses that since Jamie knew that she would probably never see Rowan again, she didn’t feel bad about making new friends and leaving Rowan out. Rowan missed Jamie and had tried to send her a few texts but Jamie never replied, Rowan had lost her best friend, but clearly Jamie didn’t miss her at all she was perfectly happy with all her new friends.
Rowan hoped the move would be good for her and that she would be able to make more friends but, it turned out that she had even fewer friends in Golden than she did at home in New Westminster. Rowan crossed the road and turned left. She wanted to stop thinking about Jamie it was making her sad trying to remember the way things used to be.
She turned up the volume in her head phones trying to drown her thoughts out of her head. (It worked she couldn’t focus on anything but the guitar in the back of one of her favorite songs.) When she arrived home the house was empty, her mom and dad were away for the weekend on a business trip and Jordan had left a note on the fridge saying that she was going to a party at her friends and would be home tomorrow morning. Perfect, house to herself.
She dropped her gloves on the counter, took off her jacket and hung it on the peg by the front door. She pulled her hair out of the ponytail and let it hang loose brushing the middle of her back. She ran up to her room to change, getting her comfiest sweatpants and putting them on. Rowan went back downstairs and turned on the TV and opening up her recordings. She had saved her show from yesterday so she would be able to watch it today. She started the show and waited eagerly for it to load. All of her homework was done and all Rowan had to do this weekend was relax and try not to think about the fact that she was going to have to go back to school on Tuesday.
It’s the waiting that gets you. I’m just sitting there shaking, I’m not sure if it’s from the cold or the nerves that are settling into my stomach. The announcer at the in gate starts to call out the order “Stephanie is at my gate, Sarah in one, Liz in two, Nick in three, Hadley in four, Morris in five to complete.”
Oh geez… I’m in four. My stomach turns again. My head is pounding inside my helmet. I can feel every place it connects to my head my hair is tucked up inside, and I can feel Carousel taking a breath underneath me; I give him a pat. He’s been so good lately I need to stop worrying. Carousel is my third horse and I have had him for just over a year. This is our first A rated show of the season and if I want to place at the end of the year I need to do well at this show. Carousel still has a lot to learn but he’s getting there faster than I expected, he is very honest and wants to do his job as best he can.
Deep breath Hadley, deep breath, Carousel will help you, deep breath it will be fine, what’s the worst that could happen. I keep repeating that over and over in my head, deep breath. My coach steps out from the announcer’s box and walks over. She just has to look at me to know that I’m freaking out, she has known me for way too long.
“Okay, breathe and let’s go over the track.” Andrea says. Right, where am I going?
“Pink going to the back, blue to the blue, gallop around to the yellow with the flowers, quick turn to the puzzle piece jump, left turn and gallop of the in and out, then steady for the green. The jump off is; blue, puzzle piece, green and the orange at the end.”
“Perfect you got it, once this horse goes it’s you, don’t forget to breathe.” Andrea smiles and goes back under the cover of the box.
I look out at the ring and go over the track again in my head. It’s okay, I know where I’m going, it’s going to be fine. I’m talking to myself, the nerves are definitely getting to me. My stomach does another flip, my heart beat is in my head, and the horse comes out of the ring and it’s my turn. Breathe.
I give Carousel a nudge with my leg to get him to go into the ring, we trot in and wait for the buzzer to tell me it’s okay to go to my first jump. The announcer calls “In the ring now we have Hadley Madden and Carousel’s Conquest” then the buzzer loud and sharp and it’s time to go.
I pick up the canter and head for the first jump. The first one is always the hardest. I’m holding my breath as my stomach flips around. I’m three strides out to my first jump, leg on for support and three… two… one… jump. We are in the air, I feel Carousel stretch out under me to get across the jump, his front legs come down softly first then his hind end. I feel the power underneath me and finally I breathe. We’ve got this. I put my leg on to encourage him to go faster, his step gets bigger and longer and we are covering so much ground every step, it’s like we are just floating across the ground. He is flowing and I can feel him having fun too. He is eating up the ground, each stride getting longer than the last one. We come to our second jump and he flies we gallop down to the third and soar over it. I push a bit harder to the yellow jump and I realize how well he is jumping. I slow down for the turn coming up so I can make it as tight as possible the next two jumps are a blur, it’s just so much fun to be out here with this horse, he is a once in a lifetime horse and he’s doing his job for me and with me. He wants to do his job, he wants to win just as much as I do and we are going to win that ribbon together.
We have a double clear round and when we leave the ring the announcer calls “Hadley Madden and Carousel’s Conquest are in the lead with the new time to beat.”
I can’t believe we are in the lead. He was such a good boy and he jumped his heart out. I’m so excited that was the best round I have had with Carousel all season. There is only one horse after us to complete the class. Andrea comes out of the announcers booth smiling at me.
“Great job! You both looked amazing, I told you there was no need to freak yourself out.” Andrea tells me
“Thanks!” I say, I just can’t wipe the smile off my face, even if we don’t win I couldn’t be happier with Carousel.
The horse is finishing up the jump off. The time is going to be close. There is only one jump left and the times are almost identical. I’m holding my breath just waiting to hear what happens. The horse’s back leg just hits the top rail on the last jump. The pole rocks in the cup for what feels like a year, but it drops with a thud on the ground.
We won! He won. Carousel was amazing and all the nerves I had before are gone and replaced with nothing but love and affection for this animal. He’s more than my pet, he is my teammate and I couldn’t have done it without him, he was a star. He won the ribbon.