Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

A Chapter by Elizabeth Reed

I trudged through the day, depressed and annoyed, wishing it would end. I had now realized that I had almost all my classes with the blonde and brunette from the day before, who Laina had said were Taylor (brunette) and Lucy (blonde).
Well that just makes everything better. I thought.
I pushed a stray strand of hair from my face as I head to my locker after lunch. When I got closer I realized Mrs. Fletcher was standing there, looking around impatiently, but trying to look relaxed. She turned as I got closer and forced a smile.

"Dakotah, there you are." she said in her fake cheery voice. "Mr. Halper would like to see you in his office."
My throat double clutched and I suddenly got warm. I had never been so anxious about having to see the principal before.
"O-oh, uhm, okay." I said nervously. Mrs. Fletcher grinned and turned on her heel, leading me once again to death row.
The kids parted and stared once again as we walked through. I worried that the breaker may be the reason I was here. Mrs. Fletcher led me into Mr. Halper's office, where he was talking on the phone. He gestured for me to sit as Mrs. Fletcher left the room. Feeling nervous, I sat down in the seat.

"Alright, I'll talk with you later." Mr. Halper said to the person on the phone. He hung up then looked at me. I got flashbacks of Mr. Maxwell and how he used to just sit and stare before your parents got there.
Oh, no. I thought. What if he called Uncle Chris?
I swallowed and shifted slightly in my seat.
"You look nervous, Cody." Mr. Halper said. "Everything okay?" I felt a twinge of nerve shoot through me.
"You tell me." I answered. Mr. Halper cleared his throat and shifted in his seat.
"I've just called your Uncle Chris. He and your aunt are on their way to discuss the small matter of the breaker tripping yesterday." he replied. I suddenly realized how warm I was, and I tugged at the sleeves of my sweater.
"What about it?" I asked. Mr. Halper sat back in his chair.
"We have two witnesses who say they saw you coming from the basement." he explained. "Why they didn't tell someone right away, I'm not sure. But they say they saw you." I was about to ask who the witnesses were, but just as I opened my mouth the door behind me opened. Mr. Halper looked up and I turned to see who it was. Taylor and Lucy both walked in and my nerve was replaced by a wave of anger. I turned back in my seat, trying to stay calm. "Ms. Lawson, Ms. Fox. Please, come in." Mr. Halper said. The two girls walked further inside. Lucy took the seat next to me while Taylor stood behind her. "We're going to wait for Cody's aunt and uncle to get here before we discuss anything." Mr. Halper said. The girls nodded and I slunk deeper in my seat.

Fiona would have made it much more bearable. She would have made faces at me, mouthed sarcastic remarks. The load would have been split between us, but not this time. It was all on me. I was alone, longing for Maxwell High and for Fiona to be by my side. Surprisingly, I longed for Mom and Dad to be the ones to walk in, not Uncle Chris and Aunt Hailey. I wanted Mom and Dad to ground me and send me to my room. My room, not the room at the farm house. I actually wanted to go home and see Fender standing there, mocking me as I went up the stairs. I hadn't seen him in almost a week. I kind of missed the little punk. I wanted to go to school and see Kyla, rather than Taylor and Lucy. See Hannah and Fiona, rather than Beck and Laina. I wanted to continue begging Mom and Dad to let me get a dog, a Boxer, rather than go to the farm house and see Gunner and Trixie.

I placed two fingers on my temple, resting my head. It was only seconds later that Uncle Chris and aunt Hailey walked in. Mr. Halper asked Mrs. Fletcher to get some more seats, so with Uncle Chris's help she brought in three more. Uncle Chris sat next to me, with Aunt Hailey at his other side. Taylor sat next to Lucy. Mr. Halper cleared his throat firmly.
"Alright, let's get to it." he said. "Everyone knows that the other day we had a bit of an issue with the breaker. Someone thought it would be a good idea to trip the breaker and pull out wires during class. Which requires going to the basement and breaking the padlock on the breaker door." I could feel Uncle Chris getting angry. He had heard of all the stupid crap I'd pulled in my school, so there was no doubt he would believe it was me... which... it was anyway... "Now, we have very strict rules in this school, so it is very rare to see a student or staff member out and about in the halls during a class. I have yet to find out why these two girls were in the halls at the time, but they claim to have seen Cody coming from the basement, or in that area, anyway." Uncle Chris glanced at me and I did my best not to make eye contact with anyone. "Taylor, Lucy," Mr. Halper continued. "Would you mind explaining?" Taylor and Lucy exchanged glances, then nodded at each other. Lucy took a deep breath.

"Taylor and I were out in the halls because I was feeling like really sick, so she came with me to make sure I was okay." Lucy started explaining in her thick Southern drawl. "We were on our way to the bathroom when the lights turned off then we saw something real blue out of the corner of our eyes." I rolled my eyes, shaking my head a bit.

"And when we looked to see what it was, we saw her coming from the hall where the basement is." Taylor continued with an accent equally as thick. Uncle Chris let out a bit of a sight, adjusting in his seat with a serious look. My uncle could be rather intimidating when he was angry.

"And why didn't you tell anyone at that time?" Mr. Halper asked. Taylor sighed.
"We'd had a run in with her before." she said. "We were worried she might fly off on us!"

"We were scared for our lives." Lucy added with a nod. I could see Mr. Halper knew they were being over dramatic. He turned and faced me, as well as Taylor and Lucy on my left and Aunt Hailey and Uncle Chris on my right. I was surrounded.

"Cody, was it you who tripped the breaker?" Mr. Halper asked. I knew lying was no use, but I didn't like to blatantly lie like that anyway. But part of me wanted to make a name for myself in the school. Get back my old rep.

"Yeah, it was." I answered. Aunt Hailey sighed, more disappointed than angry. Mr. Halper nodded.
"Well, thank you for admitting to it." he said. "Mind telling me why you did it?" I shrugged.
"It's what I do." I answered. "Call my old school, I'm the pranking master."

"Cody." Uncle Chris snapped under his breath. I glanced at him and knew to shut up.

"We don't need someone like that in our school, Mr. Halper." Lucy said, leaning forward a bit.

"Yeah, we don't need that sort of thing." Taylor agreed. "You're expelling her, right?" Mr. Halper shook his head and raised his hand to them, sort of waving them off. I gave them both looks.

"Now, girls," Mr. Halper began.

"Mind your own business." I said, annoyed. Part of me knew it was a bad idea, but the other part couldn't control it.

"Cody, please." Aunt Hailey said at the same time Uncle Chris snapped my name once more.

"It is our business!" Taylor's voice grated on me. It was so irritating. "We're like afraid for our lives with people like you in our school."

"People like me?" I asked, getting even more annoyed and slightly offended.

"Girls, please."
"Cody, enough."
Mr. Halper and Uncle Chris said at the same time.

"She doesn't belong here." Lucy said to Mr. Halper while looking at me.

"She's Eastern trash." Taylor added. The adults called out more for us to stop, but I was already out of my seat and lunging for Taylor and Lucy, who shrieked like little girls. I suddenly felt two strong arms wrap around me and pull me back. I got a flashback of my dad restraining me from hitting James at my old high school.

"You Southern skanks are dead!" I cried, struggling to pull from my uncle's grip.

"Dakotah! Enough!" Uncle Chris barked, his voice loud and booming. I knew he was not joking around. Still shooting daggers through my eyes at Lucy and Taylor, I stopped struggling and let Uncle Chris push me into my seat. He stayed standing, a hand on my shoulder. I only then noticed that everyone was on their feet.

"Mr. McQuaid, this is unacceptable!" Mr. Halper said. "I try to maintain a measure of lenience and understanding. As a lot of the kids know, I'm rarely the one to give out punishments. Most of the time any detentions given are given by the teachers. But I cannot let this go. It seems like you can't control your niece." Uncle Chris shook his head, putting more pressure on my shoulder. I felt like he was threatening me.
"Mr. Halper, I assure you this will never happen again." he said. "Please, just give her another chance. She was sent here to learn respect, discipline and responsibility," with every lesson I was to learn Uncle Chris patted my shoulder. "It's a work in progress, but I assure you, it will work and she will progress." Mr. Halper sighed deeply.
"I can't let this just slide." he explained. He exhaled sharply, sitting back in his seat. "I'm going to give her another week of detention, on top of today and tomorrow."
I sighed and rolled my eats, sinking down farther in my seat. As soon as I did, though, Uncle Chris squeezed my shoulder tightly, and pulled, so I pushed myself to sit up straight.

"Of course, we completely understand." Aunt Hailey said, nodding.

"That's it?" Taylor cried.

"She almost killed us!" Lucy chimed.

"Hush!" Mr. Halper yelled. "One more word out of you two and you'll be in detention with her." Lucy and Taylor looked shocked, but kept quiet.
I was not looking forward to going home at the end of school.

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Beck waited for me to get out of detention, just like Aunt Hailey had asked. He walked a step or two behind me for a while, making me feel a little agitated. I felt like he was studying me, or waiting to say something. But we walked the whole way in silence. When we reached the driveway he told me he would try to be around to help with chores, but he wasn't sure if he could make it. I told him whatever and walked inside. I tried to walk straight up the stairs, but Uncle Chris barked my name again, calling me into the living room. I rolled my eyes when he couldn't see me and walked over to him.

"Have a seat." he said firmly, pointing to the couch. I set down my backpack and sat in front of them. Uncle Chris was standing with folded arms, looking tough and angry, while Aunt Hailey stood calmly by his side. He just stared down at me for the longest, most uncomfortable 30 seconds of my life. I didn't want to make eye contact, because I felt awkward having people other than my parents, a principal or a teacher scolding me. Or Fiona's mom... She used to do it pretty often. I picked a hair off my knee, then placing my hands on them and stretching out my arms. "You don't have anything to say?" Uncle Chris asked. I looked up at him and shrugged.

"You're the one who asked me to sit." I answered. Uncle Chris sighed and shook his head, placing his hands on his hips. Aunt Hailey placed a hand on his arm for a moment, trying to calm him down.

"Cody, we want you to explain why you did what you did." she said, stepping forward. "And explain why you lunged at those girls."

"That was terribly inappropriate!" Uncle Chris yelled.
"Chris, don't yell." Aunt Hailey said in a quieter voice.
"No, dang it, I will yell!" Uncle Chris snapped. "She tried to attack two girls and she broke into the breaker and tripped it! That is not okay!"
Aunt Hailey smacked Uncle Chris's arm. "Chris McQuaid, do not yell at me." she said ordered. She then turned away from me slightly. "Now, I know that's not okay and you know she does too. But that's why she's here. So we can fix her. Now you will stop yelling and address this more calmly. Do you understand?" I heard her hiss in a hushed tone.
There was silence for a second before Uncle Chris responded, "Yes, ma'am." in a quiet voice. Aunt Hailey gave a nod and they both turned back. Uncle Chris cleared his throat.
"Now, I told you when you got here that I wasn't going to be afraid to ground you." he explained. "And I'm not afraid to dish out any other punishments either." I sighed a bit and leaned back on the couch. I knew punishments here would be worse, because they would be chores. "So you're grounded for the next month. No extra activities, when you're not working you're in your room with no TV." he went on. "We will allow you to keep your phone, so you can still talk to family. Now, Beck likes to come down here to get away, he likes to be with the horses, he likes to ride. So we aren't going to take that away from him. But he won't be helping clean out any stalls. For the next month all the stalls are on you. As well as any other chores we decide to give you. Do you understand?" I didn't want to respond. I wanted to get up and storm out of the house, get in my car and drive to Fiona's, then go skateboard with her. But I knew I couldn't. I was stuck here on this farm with my aunt and uncle, who I didn't even know that well, with a boy I didn't like animals I didn't really care about. I was being forced against my will to do all these things, simply because I wasn't 18. It was so unfair. How is it right that adults can do that to minors? Who gave them all the power? I didn't ask to be born. I didn't accept the terms of life because they were never provided for me. I folded my arms and looked away. "Do you understand?" Uncle Chris stressed.

"Yeah." I said in a horribly disrespectful voice, not even looking at him.
"Excuse me?" Uncle Chris asked, obviously offended.
"Yes." I snapped, looking at him with an evil glare.
"Yes, what?" he asked, leaning closer to me.
"Yes, sir." I said with disdain. He sighed and folded his arms, straightening up.
"Go to your room and don't come down until I tell you." I stood up without a word and marched up the stairs, furious. Being sent to my room always made me feel like a child.
If they want me to treat me like a child, fine. I'll act like one. I thought. I walked to my window and quietly slid it open, looking out below it to see what was underneath. I smiled to see there was part of the roof under it, I think the living room. Slowly and carefully I stepped out onto it after grabbing my keys from my dresser, peering to see what was below the roof. Bushes. Not the softest landing, but certainly better than just the ground, especially if I lowered myself right. I hung upside down, looking in through the window to make sure they weren't looking. I smiled when I saw they weren't there. I swung my legs over, lowering myself down, holding on with just my hands so I had the length of my body to reach the bushes. About a foot above them, I decided it would be safe enough, and I let down. As I landed I could feel some stiff branches poking into me, catching my shirt and poking tiny holes in it. I pulled myself free and ran to my car. Even if they heard me pulling out, what could they do? I would be in my car. So I got inside and started it up, part of me hoping they wouldn't see, just so it would be easier. I quietly backed out of the driveway, and just as I pulled out onto the road Uncle Chris ran out onto the porch, yelling for me to stop. I peeled out down the road, heading for town, and I couldn't help but laugh. A rush of adrenalin and anxiety surged through my body and I cranked up my music to help. My phone rang several times, Uncle Chris or Aunt Hailey calling from the home phone, and I got several texts from both of them. But I didn't answer any, I just drove down the road as fast as I could manage without being pulled over. A little voice in my head was telling what a bad idea this was. How much trouble I would be in and how I should have just rode out being grounded. But another voice told me not to break without a fight. Not to give up on the Cody that I was just because I wasn't home. So I ignored the voice telling me to go back home, turned my music up even louder, and drove to the boardwalk.

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I walked around the boardwalk for a while, went on a couple rides, bought a bit of food and a bracelet. I had calmed down quite a bit as far as anger went, but my anxiety was growing as I realized how much more trouble I would be in. Part of me contemplated going back, turning myself in. Maybe then they wouldn't punish me as bad. But the other part told me the punishment would be harsh either way, so enjoy my freedom while it lasts. I walked onto one of the docks, the ocean breaking against the legs. It was beautiful. I looked a bit closer and noticed a person sitting way at the very end.
Beck? I thought. Great...
But as I kept looking, I noticed he was sitting alone, leaning against one of the posts.
He looks sad... I thought. Maybe I should go... I rolled my eyes. Ugh! Why do I always have to be such a great person?
I shoved my hands into the pockets of my jeans, feeling my phone vibrate once again. Cautiously, I walked closer to Beck, clearing my throat gently.
"Beck?" I asked softly. He jumped a bit and turned around. My eyes widened a bit as a saw as bruise on his cheek, but he quickly looked away.

"Cody..." he said. "Hi... What are you doing here?" I walked closer to him and tried to examine him better.
"I ran away." I said as plainly as I would have told him the time. "What happened to you?" He smiled a little and shook his head.
"Nothing, nothing." he assured me as I sat down beside him. "I was on my bike on a dirt road and I took a header off it. Smashed my face into a rock." I frowned.
"Are you okay? Does it hurt?" I asked. Beck shrugged a bit.
"Doesn't feel good." I answered. "Now, what do you mean you ran away?" I sighed, dangling my feet back and forth off the dock.
"Uncle Chris and Aunt Hailey got really mad at me and punished me... So I ran out through my window... They've been texting and calling nonstop." I explained. Beck scoffed and shook his head.
"You have to go back." he said. "You're going to be in so much trouble." I shrugged.
"I already am." I replied. "An endless list of chores I have to do alone for a month and no extra activities. School, chores, bed." Beck scratched at his good cheek and exhaled.
"You're really going to get it." he stated. "Mr. McQuaid has quite a temper." I nodded.
"I know... He's just like my dad." I agreed. "My dad has such a temper... He punched a whole in the wall once when we were arguing." Beck laughed, but it was a weird laugh. It seemed nervous almost.
"Yeah, I know how that can be." he said. "Dad's..." I gave him a bit of a look as I nodded.
"Are- are you okay?" I asked again. He looked at me and furrowed his brow.
"I'm fine." he answered. "It's you I'm worried about." He stood up and offered me his hand. "Come on, we're taking you home." I rolled my eyes and shook my head, looking out at the vast ocean before me. I could just barely make out the land on the other side, or what may have been an island. Beck grabbed my arm and yanked me up. "Let's go." he insisted. "Maybe I can help you get out of some trouble." I groaned and reluctantly agreed to go back. Beck asked if he could drive, almost insisted that he did. Some sort of Southern gentlemenness or something, probably. So I allowed it. He drove me back home, playing country music the whole way. I was perfectly used to get in trouble, and I was in enough it, so I wasn't too worried. But being in trouble did suck and I wish I wasn't in any. Trouble at home was different than trouble here, too. At home I was grounded, some electronics taken away. I could even sneak out my window to see Fiona. But here the punishments were manual labor and I had no friends to sneak out to see. And if I did, if Uncle Chris didn't catch me, I'm sure the dogs would.
As we neared the house I got a bit more nervous, tucking my hair behind my ears and sighing quietly. I bit at the tip of my finger as we turned onto the dirt road we lived on. Beck kept glancing at me and shifting in his seat. "Are you okay?" he asked. I shook my head.
"I'm fine." I answered, lowering my hand. "Perfectly fine..." Beck pulled into the driveway, parking right in front. We sat there for a minute, half expecting Uncle Chris or Aunt Hailey to rush out and meet us in anger or worry. I sighed again, then looking at Beck. "Well, might as well get this over with." I said.
"I'll go do a couple stalls." he replied. "Just don't tell your uncle. He doesn't have to know." I smiled a little.
"Thanks." I said. Beck nodded.
"Better get in there." he said. Reluctantly, I opened the door and cautiously walked in the house. I opened my mouth to call out, but stopped when I heard Uncle Chris on the phone.

"Well, I just don't know what to do." he said. "What did you used to do when she ran off and wouldn't listen and gave you worse attitude than an unbroken Stallion? ... Yes, I did... No, she ran off after I told her... Well I just don't know what to do, Simon."
Dad? I thought. This can't be good...
"We raised two kids, Simon. We never had issues with them like this. They respectfully listened to us, did their chores, and when they turned 20 they were both moved out. I've never had to punish them so severely. And if I had, they would have listened... My point is, I don't know what to do about this!" Uncle Chris sighed heavily. "Fine, I'll try... No, I'm not giving up... I know... I know... Yeah... Okay, I'll talk to you later, brother... Love you... Bye." He set the phone back on the jack. I quietly took a few more steps inside, trying to listen to his conversation with Aunt Hailey. It would be horrible if he sent me back home. What would my parents do with me? They obviously didn't want me anymore... I would have nowhere to go. What if I ended up in some sort of group home? I couldn't let that happen. I got a little bit closer, but one of the floor boards creaked. I rolled my eyes, so just walked in, pretending I hadn't been hiding. I stood in the door way, playing with my fingers awkwardly as Uncle Chris and Aunt Hailey stared at me. "Well, hello there." Uncle Chris said. I looked down for a second then looked back up, feeling incredibly uncomfortable and kind of mad that I had to do this. I didn't want to be homeless...

"I'm sorry I ran off..." I said, folding my arms. Uncle Chris faced me, folding his as well.
"Yeah?" he asked. I dropped my arms.
"Yeah." I answered.
"Are you ready to listen?" he asked. I wanted to say something snarky and sarcastic, but I stopped myself. Even though it was quite hard.
"Yes..." I replied. Uncle Chris kept staring at me. "Sir." I added. Uncle Chris gestured to the living room.

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My uncle and I had a pretty productive talk. I was still punished, though nothing more was added on, and he told me I was welcome to stay as long as I was supposed to, or even longer, as long as I behaved.
Yeah, right... I thought. As soon as I can, I'm out of here.
But I did decide that had to shape up a bit, because I didn't want to be homeless.
I can't be a little punk forever... I guess I have to grow up sometime.
I sighed quietly as I walked into the barn. Beck was brushing down Zira and four stalls had been done. I smiled a little.

"You didn't have to do so many." I said. Beck shrugged.

"No biggy." he said. "I wasn't doing anything else. Just don't tell your uncle." I shook my head.
"I definitely won't." I replied. Beck dropped his brush into his tack box.
"I'm gonna go for a ride." he said, walking to the tack room.
"Okay..." I called, a little upset that I couldn't join. I had really come to like riding and I wanted to learn to do it better. "Have fun..."

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The month had passed and things were going pretty smooth. I wasn't in any trouble at school or at home and it felt pretty great. I had been having consistent riding lessons and was no quite good at it. I didn't need anyone with me to help or make sure I was doing it right. I had even ridden bareback a few times. It felt good being on the better side of things. I will say, I pulled a couple of harmless pranks at home to ease my withdrawal, but nothing that got me in trouble. Me and Beck were still a bit at ends, but we were working on it. I hadn't spoken to my mother in quite some time though, I talked to Dad a little, and to Fiona, and even to Fender. But I didn't want to talk to Mom. But it was fine. Things were getting better for me. Especially because Aunt Hailey and Uncle Chris had decided to take us for ice cream. We stopped at a small ice cream shop where a few picnic tables were outside and ordered some ice cream cones. The lady handed me my ice cream and I walked away to a picnic table that wasn't near all the lights. I sat on top of the table and licked at my ice cream. I could hear Aunt Hailey and Uncle Chris laughing and giggling with each other, Uncle Chris's arm wrapped around her waist. I couldn't help but think how cute it was. They had been married for 16 years and they were still so in love, never wanting to be apart. I sighed then heard my cell phone going off inside my bag, playing Know Your Enemy by Green Day. That meant it was Mom. I reached in and shuffled around for my phone before I found it and read her text.

Hi, sweety. Call me if you aren't too tired.

I rolled my eyes. I'm too tired. I thought as I shoved my phone back in my bag.

"I'm assuming it's not your BFF." Beck said as he walked up to me. I glanced at him then shook my head.

"Nope, it's not." I answered. He took a step closer.
"Can I sit?" he asked. I nodded, pushing to the side. Beck stepped up and sat next to me, then looked at the ice cream in my hand. "You go to an ice cream shop and you get chocolate soft serve with chocolate jimmies?" he asked. I nodded.
"Can't beat the classics." I replied. I looked at his. "What did you get?"
"Mocha fudge." he answered, taking a lick. "Nothing's better." I smirked a little at his attempt to start a debate. In a way I was kind of glad he wasn't mad at me for something, but I also didn't know what to make of it. After a second I took a deep breath and shifted, keeping my eyes on my ice cream.
"Look," I started. "I wanted to- to thank you..."
"For?" Beck asked after taking another lick. I sighed.
"For telling Aunt Hailey about my detention that time... And for being so nice to me even though I probably didn't deserve it... And for helping my aunt and uncle around the farm..." I replied. "Just- everything." Beck shrugged.
"It's no problem." he answered. "Around here it's just what we do. How we work. We do what's right and what's honourable and what makes people happy." I smiled a little.
"That's a really nice way to go about life." I said. By this time we were actually looking at each other, instead of awkwardly staring at our food. We stared at each other for about four seconds before Beck tapped his ice cream on my nose. I closed my eyes and laughed a little, rubbing it off and licking at my own ice cream. "So, are we good?" he asked. "Like, from now on? No more fights?" I nodded.
"We're good..." I replied. "No more fights. Let's just start over and be friends. The flirt and the fists." Beck grinned.
"Sounds good to me."

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Me and Beck actually hit it off after I relaxed. I wasn't letting him in too deeply, but we were pretty good friends, along with Laina. School was going really well. My grades were up a little, probably because Ms. Honeycutt wasn't there. Although I had gained the name The Girl With The Blue Hair from people I didn't know. But, I didn't really care. A couple weeks after my first day of school Aunt Hailey told me to hurry home because she had a surprise for me. So, after school me, Laina and Beck rushed home together. (I drove to school then, so they came with me pretty much everyday) I pulled into the parking lot and ran inside, excited to see what my surprise was. The three of us ran inside and dropped our backpacks by the door.

"Aunt Hailey?" I called. "Where's my surprise?" Beck, Laina and Aunt Hailey laughed as Aunt Hailey came from the living room.

"Follow me, I'll show you." she said. I couldn't stop grinning as I followed her outside, wondering what it could be. I started to get confused along with Beck and Laina as we entered the barn.
"My surprise is in the barn?" I asked. As soon as I walked in Duke went crazy with happiness, kicking the door to get my attention. I laughed and reached to pet him. He was eager to shove his nose into my hand. I scratched his cheek and spoke to him like a baby. "Hi, Duke!" I said. "Who's a good boy? Oh, who's a good boy? You're so big! Who's a big boy?" Aunt Hailey laughed.
"You found it." she said. I turned to her.
"What?" I asked, not sure if she meant what I thought she meant.
"Your surprise. You found it." she said again. "It's Duke." I froze, eyes wide. "We're giving him to you." My face slowly broke into a grin and I screeched, hugging Aunt Hailey tightly. Laina and Beck voiced their happiness, but I was over the moon!
"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" I cried. I quickly opened the stall and wrapped my arms around Duke's thick neck. "Oh, Duke!" I cried. "You're mine now, baby! Oh, I'm so happy!" Duke bobbed his head up and down, making me stretch along with him as he picked it up. Everyone was laughing at me. I ran out and hugged Aunt Hailey again, then hugged Laina and Beck. "Can we go riding, Aunt Hailey? Please?" I begged. "We'll do our work after, I promise!" Aunt Hailey laughed again.
"Of course you can." she said. "Have fun." I grinned widely.
"Yes, ma'am!" I said, giving her one last hug before the three of us tacked up as fast as possible, Beck on Zira and Laina on Vector. We rode out of the barn, down the road and down the path that led to the pond. Laina was still a little out of sync with her horse, and me and Beck tried to get her to catch the rhythm. We laughed as she tried to get the beat and failed miserably. By the time she basically got it we were already at the pond. We untacked the horses and let them roam into the water as we sat, shoes off, pants roll up on some warm rocks. Beck took of his shirt and me and Laina sat in tanktops, the sun beating down on us. I sighed with a smile, relaxed. The sun was gently turning my cheeks, arms and legs red. I wiggled my black-nailed-toes.
"This is so relaxing..." I said with an exhale. "It feels like Summer."

"Almost always does here." Laina said, laying on her back with her blonde hair spread out around her. The horses ran around in the water, sucking it up and splashing at each other. I sighed, feeling a little sweat grouping on my forehead. I stood up off the rock and walked into the water to the horses, playing with them. I splashed at them and they ran from me, then back again. Next thing I knew I felt someones arms around me and I was under the water. I broke surface, taking in a deep breath, flinging my hair back and rubbing my eyes. I turned and saw Laina behind me, laughing as hard as she could, and Beck starting to walk into the water. Smiling, I shook my head.
"You are so dead, Laina!" I cried. She turned, screaming, ready to run, but I managed to grab onto her first and pull her down under the water. Beck soon joined in and we all took turns dunking each other, the horses playing off behind us. Laina and Beck soon ganged up on me, Laina behind me and Beck in front. They both tried to get me down, but I struggled to stay up. Suddenly, I stepped on a flat, smooth, slippery rock and fell backwards into Laina, knocking us both over. I pushed myself to the top, gasping for breath because I was prepared to go under. I pushed my hair from my eyes and kind of started laughing before I realized Laina didn't come up. Me and Beck turned all around, trying to find her. "Okay, Laina, come on out!" I called.

"Laina, come out, this isn't funny." Beck said. My heart started racing and I panicked. Immediately me and Beck dove under the water and searched for her. We found her seconds later, under the water, unconscious. She had hit her head on a rock behind her when the two of us fell. Me and Beck rushed to her, pulling her out of the water. I had her legs and Beck had her top as we raced onto shore. Beck lay her on the sand, making sure she was breathing, trying to wake her as I ran and pulled in the horses, tacking them as quickly as I could. "She wont wake up." Beck said, standing up. He ran to Zira and pulled a rope from her saddle bag and tied Duke and Vector together. "I'm going to have to hold onto her on Zira while you lead Vector back on Duke." I nodded.
"Got it." I said. I watched as Beck picked her up and moved towards Zira. Her head was bleeding pretty bad and I swallowed. Before Beck even asked, I ran up and helped him get her on the saddle after he had sat. He held her tightly in his arms and snapped Zira's reins, making her go as fast as she could without Laina falling. I leapt onto Duke as fast as I could and snapped his reins, making him and Vector run at full gallop. It was only like the second or third time I had run at full speed. Usually it was exhilarating, a rush. But, this time it just added to my adrenalin and anxiety. I came up on Beck, who was going slower, and I had to slow down, because I couldn't pass.
"In a second, there's a small path. Take it and run home!"
"Got it!" I called back. After about one minute of running I saw the pass and ran down it at full speed, not realizing it was so small and cluttered with logs and sticks. I knew that some of them would have to be jumped, but Beck hadn't taught me how to jump yet. We had been planning on going over that during the weekend. I swallowed. I knew I had to put my trust in Duke. I knew he wouldn't just plow through a giant log, he wouldn't jump it himself. But, I didn't know what to do when he did and I didn't want to get bucked off then trampled by Vector. Deal with it, Cody. I thought. Laina needs you. I inhaled deeply and shoved the fear from my mind, putting my full trust in Duke. I think he could sense my fear. We came to the first log and I had to force myself not to squeeze my eyes shut.
What do the people on TV do? I thought. Thinking quickly, I leaned forward and lifted my butt of the saddle slightly as Duke glided smoothly over the log. No time to be excited for myself, I snapped his reins again, urging him to go faster as he glided over more logs and rocks. Finally, I could see the road and I prayed no cars were coming, because I refused to stop. I broke through the bushes, turned sharply and galloped to the house. A couple cars passed me, the people inside giving me weird looks. The house came into view and my heart raced faster. I could see the sheep in the yard and the dogs basking in the sun. I snapped Duke's reins a final time and we sped into the driveway. I brought him to an abrupt halt and I jumped off as fast as I could, not bothering to tie them to anything. I ran inside, almost breaking the door as I swung it open. "Aunt Hailey!" I screeched. Aunt Hailey came from around the corner, a worried look on her face. "It's Laina." I said, heaving. "She hit her head and she wont wake up. Beck's on his way with her on Zira, I brought back Duke and Vector." Aunt Hailey's eyes widened.

"Oh, goodness!" she cried. "Okay, Kodah, you put Vector and Duke away, I'll meet Beck up the road in the truck. Call nine-one-one, okay?"
"Okay." I said. Me and Aunt Hailey rushed out of the house. I grabbed onto Duke and Vector's reins as Aunt Hailey got in the truck and sped away. As I rushed to the barn, I pulled out my cell phone. One Missed Call was on the screen. I ignored it and dialed 911, giving them our address and telling them what happened. After I hung up, I put the horses in their stalls and stood outside the barn, only then realizing I was still wet and extremely tired. I felt my legs and arms shaking and I water dripped from my hair. I decided to take the little time I had to run upstairs and change into dry clothes. As I ran back outside in dry jeans and a t-shirt, I put my still wet hair in a ponytail and saw Aunt Hailey pull into the driveway, Beck running behind her. I ran to the truck and helped pull the still unconscious Laina from the passengers seat. Not 20 seconds later did I hear sirens. I sat on the ground, putting Laina's head on my lap. Her head wasn't bleeding anymore, and she was still breathing, so it was good signs. I gently tapped the side of her face with my hand. "Laina," I said as the ambulance pulled in. "Laina, come on, wake up. Laina, can you hear me?" As the paramedics ran up to me, Laina's eyes fluttered open. I smiled, relieved. She groaned, struggling to keep her eyes open. The two men knelt next to me, looking at Laina.

"W-what happened?" she asked.
"You hit your head. The paramedics are here, you'll be fine." I answered. The men picked her up and strapped her to a gurney, putting her in the back of the ambulance. We all rushed to meet the paramedics.

"Is she going to be okay?" Aunt Hailey asked, rubbing and pulling at her fingers. One of the paramedics nodded, folding his big arms.

"She should be fine." he said. "She may have a concussion, but no serious injuries. One of you is welcome to ride along in the back if you'd like."

"Come on, Tim, we gotta go." the younger paramedic called. Aunt Hailey nodded.

"Yes, I want to ride with her." she said. "Cody, you and Beck follow behind us and call her parents." I nodded.

"Sure thing." I answered. Aunt Hailey climbed in the back of the ambulance with the Tim the paramedic and me and Beck ran to my car. As I pulled out of the driveway Beck grabbed his phone (had to use 411 to get Laina's home phone number) and told her parents what happened.

"Yes, Mrs. McCarthy, she's going to be just fine..." Beck said, seeming frustrating. I couldn't make out what Mrs. McCarthy was saying, I just knew she was freaking out. "Mrs. McCarthy, no one did anything to her, she fell... We were swimming... No, it was just a pond... No, it was fifty feet deep, she just slipped on a rock... We're following behind the ambulance now... Mrs. McQuaid is in the back with her... I don't know... I don't know... Because I'm not with her!.. I'm sorry for yelling, Mrs. McCarthy, but she's fine. I don't know if she's awake, but I'm assuming she is... Okay, I have to go... Alright... Okay... Bye." With a loud groan Beck hung up his phone. "Next time something bad happens to someone, you call their parents." I laughed a little.
"Okay," I said. "We'll take turns." Beck sighed and looked out the window as I tried to keep up with the ambulance. I kept replaying what happened in my mind. How brave and quick thinking me and Beck were. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. I was with Fiona when she broke her wrist after going down a half-pipe on her shotty old skateboard, I was with Fender when he sprained his wrist falling down the stairs when he was 8, I was with Fiona the other time she broke her wrist falling from her board, but that wasn't anything to serious. Sure, they were in pain, and I rushed them home so we could get to the doctor, but they could handle it. It wasn't a blow to the head, they didn't pass out. So, there wasn't much to act quick on. I just had to take them home, and that was only in Fio's case. Fender was already home, so I just had to call out to mom. But, this time, it was just me and Beck. Just two teenagers away from any help with three horses and a hurt friend. I could feel my arms shaking a little bit. I wasn't exactly sure why, since the paramedic said Laina would be fine. I think it was just because I felt like it was partly my fault. I fell into her, so she fell over. And I had never dealt with a concussion before, so I didn't really know much about it, like what it did or anything. I tried to relax by taking a few deep breaths and Beck gave me a concerned look. I almost forgot he was in the car and I was mad for showing weakness. I hated letting people see me that way...
"Cody, are you okay?" he asked. "You look like you're going to pass out." I shook my head and forced a smile.
"No, no, I'm fine." I assured him. "Um, it's just- what does a concussion do?" Beck smirked a little, realizing I was just scared for Laina's safety.
"Well, it depends on how bad it is, really. She blacked out for about fifteen to twenty minutes, so it's possible she could wake up and have some amnesia for just a little while. They will probably stop her from sleeping, because sometimes if you have a concussion, you slip into a coma when you sleep. She'll probably have a headache for a while, she may get sick or dizzy. But, she'll be fine." He grinned at me and touched my shoulder. "Don't worry." As he was explaining it to me, it all sounded very familiar.
"Oh," I said. "That's what a concussion is? I've had plenty of those." Beck laughed at me.
"You have?" he asked.
"I'm a skateboarded who never wears a helmet and knows nothing about safety, of course I have." I answered. Beck laughed at me again and we pulled into the hospital parking lot behind the ambulance. We parked in the main lot then ran inside to catch up with Laina. She kept asking where she was and who the people around her were and it worried me. The doctors were talking to each other and I only understood some of it. Something about a CAT scan to see the severity of the concussion. A big nurse in Winnie the Pooh scrubs told the three of us to sit in the waiting room down the hall.

"There's coffee and muffins in there, help yourselves. But, she will be fine, so don't worry." she told us. We all nodded and walked down the hall to the waiting room. I made my aunt a cup of coffee and she sighed.

"Thanks, Kodah." she said. I sat down next to her, grabbing a chocolate chip muffin first. I picked at the crumbly food and crossed my legs. Seconds later a tall, skinny blonde rush into the room. Her hair was tossed messily into a bun and she had a worried look on her face, her her struck with fear. Following behind was an even taller man, salt and pepper hair and sort of buff, also worried looking. It was Laura and Rod McCarthy, Laina's parents. Laura turned and reached her hand out behind her.

"Oh, Tommy, come here." she said in a shaky voice. Then I saw a small hand grab on and a little brunette-headed boy walked into the room. Laina's little brother. Rod stepped forward and looked at Aunt Hailey, Beck and I.

"Oh, Hailey," he said with a fairly thick accent. "Is our baby okay?" Aunt Hailey stood up and nodded.

"Yes, Rod, she's fine." she answered. "She's having a CAT scan right now to measure the severity of the concussion." Laura clutched her chest.

"Oh, my poor baby." she breathed and Rod took her hand.

"It'll be okay, darlin'." he assured her. Tommy was quick to let go of his mother's hand and grab a muffin, then he ran and started playing with the broken toys in the corner. I stood up and fixed myself and Beck some coffee, then sat beside him.

"Feeling better?" he asked, taking the coffee then thanking me. I nodded, sipping my drink. The steam rose in front of my face and I blew gently.

"I'm still a little worried..." I said. "And I feel bad, like it was my fault." Beck shook his head, leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
"If it was anyone's fault, it was mine." I replied, shaking his hair from his face. "I pushed you into her." I leaned forward, leaning on my knees too.
"Yeah, you're right, it was your fault." I said jokingly. He laughed a little and we sipped our coffee.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxX

Laura was talking Aunt Hailey and Rod was talking with Uncle Chris, who had shown up about ten minutes after us. I was still working on my muffin when the Winnie the Pooh scrubs nurse walked in. Everyone stopped talking and we all stood up, waiting to hear how Laina was. Laura and Rod were holding hands, Tommy in Rod's other arm. The nurse smiled at us and you could hear everyone exhale.

"Laina is just fine." she assured us. "She remembers who she is now, but doesn't really remember what happened. That should come back to her soon. We're going to keep her over night just in case, so we can keep an eye on her. When she gets home she might have a headache or feel dizzy or be a little sick for a couple days, but after some rest she'll be fine." Laura exhaled deeply and leaned against Rod.

"Oh, thank goodness." she said. "Can we see her?" The nurse nodded.
"Of course, right this way." she said, leading us from the waiting room. We walked down a couple hallways before coming to room 114. We all walked in and saw Laina, all comfy in her bed and hospital gown, bandage on her head. She looked over and smiled at us.

"Hey, guys." she said. Her room smelled like cleaning products, but was actually pretty nice. Nice white and blue bed spread, tan walls with white accents, a little table next to her, two chairs and bench under the large window. Some pictures of flowers hung on the wall, and there was a bunch of tissues, hand sanitizer, towels, lotions and cups by the sink. The floors were white tiles and me and Becks' shoes left little pieces of dirt and dirty horse shavings behind. Laura rushed to Laina's side and grabbed her hand, careful not to tug on her IV. Laura hugged and kissed Laina a million times, Tommy sat boredly in a chair, Rod stood on the other side of Laura, and the rest of us stood back and watched. "Mom, please, I'm fine." Laina insisted. "Really. It barely even hurts."

"You are never getting on a horse again, young lady! I never liked those things..." Laura said. Laina rolled her eyes. That sounds familiar. I thought. A few days after I got my first skateboard when I was eight I fell and hit my head really hard. My head was bleeding and so was my left knee and arm. I walked all the way home, no one stopping to help, washed myself up and told my mom the next day before school.

"Dakotah Rose! Are you crazy? You could have a concussion!" she yelled at me. "You're never getting on a skateboard again, young lady!"

And I got on one the very day. It never stopped me, and I doubted it would stop Laina.

"Mom, don't be ridiculous." she said. "This had nothing to do with horses. I wasn't even near them." Laura grumbled.
"Still, I don't like those things." she said.

"No, Laura," Rod said. "Don't discourage her. If she wants to get on a horse, she can." Laura sighed deeply and squeezed Laina's hand.
"I'm just glad you're alright." she said. Laina grinned.

"I'm fine, Mom." she assured her. She looked at me and Beck and smiled. "How did you guys get me back?" she asked. Me and Beck looked at each other and retold the account, his side and mine. He told them how he held Laina tight in both arms, relying on Zira for balance. How she woke up for like two seconds and muttered "Mom" before passing out again. And I told them about how I had to take Duke and Vector back at the same time on the tiny path with logs and rocks, and I successfully jumped them all with no training, then ran and told Aunt Hailey what happened and called 911. Laina smiled and thanked us for helping her, saying she would be back at the barn as soon as possible, much to the dismay of her mother. As we talked about what happened, I felt my phone vibrate. I pulled it from my pocket and looked to see who was calling. Fiona was calling. I sighed and hit ignore. Fiona could wait, right now was about Laina.


© 2012 Elizabeth Reed


Author's Note

Elizabeth Reed
All feedback is appreciated

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Oh my goodness! This is amazing! I absolutely love it! Please post more! I am book hungry! If i could give the rating 100000000/100 I would!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Elizabeth Reed

7 Years Ago

Thank you so much! I'll check out your story as soon as I can. =)
craybeast

7 Years Ago

have you written anything recently?
Elizabeth Reed

7 Years Ago

I just moved the other day, so I've been writing only a little. Should have the next chapter up soon.. read more

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Added on September 27, 2012
Last Updated on November 18, 2012
Tags: Teen, Teenager, Angst, Farm, Horse, Horses, Barn, School, Love, Romance, Trouble


Author

Elizabeth Reed
Elizabeth Reed

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About
I absolutely love to write, but I'm not very confident in myself. I would love honest feedback. Negative or not. If you'd like to see pictures of my characters, go to my photos. The letter(s) at th.. more..

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