The wind was high and felt harshly cold after the warmth of the cab so that the girls both zipped up their jackets to their chins and jogged out to the barn for their halters. Jess chatted excitedly, high on the prospect of their adventure. The two walked side by side, Sarah 's yellow hair glowing and Jess’s rich auburn curls, bouncing along with stride. Lilly and Jackson fiercely munched the grass as they approached, hoping to steal just a few more bites before being dragged in.
"Hey there old man" Sarah said, as she threw the lead over Jacksons neck. Just as he was lifting his head from the grass, something in the distance caught his eye. He leapt sideways, spun his hindquarter around and flung his head upward. The old quarter horse stood stalk still but for the heave of his belly when he let out a sharp and rattling grunt. Jackson looked down his nose, and started intently at the forest beyond. Lilly, a young and flighty thoroughbred didn’t stick around to ponder the threat, she had galloped madly back towards the barn before Jess could blink and eye. Jackson hesitated for a moment before high tailing it behind her, cocking his head from left to right, glancing behind him, as he went.
"That was weird," Jess said huffily. "Jackson never spooks!"
"I think he saw something in the trees on the other side of the drive...in the forest there." Sarah replied.
Back in the barn, the horses stood quietly, nose to tail. Catching them both, the girls led their horses to the hitching rail and went about brushing and tacking them up. Jackson was not rooting her pockets or trying on his usual pocket pony tactics for finding the treats. Instead he stood high headed with his eyes fixed in the direction of the forest. Sarah reached up and stroked his neck. Strangely, trying to calm him down helped ease her own nerves As she attempted to heave the weight of the Wade style western saddle over the pony height of Jackson's back, her thin arms and bony elbows trembled. Not a pony, Sarah reminded herself, just a point above 14.2 hands, Jackson was indeed a horse, and her first one at that.
After many years of leasing, Sarah had been given the seventeen-year-old cow horse on her thirteenth birthday. He came with the tack of the old cowboy that had owned him. "He was a good hand in his day", the eighty year old cow boss had said, his hands and legs, bowed and crippled with years of hard use. "But he is sound, dead broke and solid minded." When Sarah and her father had gone to pick Jackson up, the old man had pulled her aside and whispered in her ear, "Young lady, if ever you find yourself in a pickle, you just give Jackson the reins, and he'll take ya home." She'd never had a chance to put that claim to the test but Jackson had a wise and kind eye that seemed to look straight through her at times. "Easy there" Sarah whispered, as Jackson danced around when she went to cinched him.
"What's gotten into Jackson today?" Jess asked, peering over Lilly’s tall and narrow back. "He's making Lilly hyper."
Sarah looked over at her friend and wondered where her enthusiasm had gone, Jess’s brows where nit together and her mouth was set in grimace. "You okay?" Sarah asked tentatively. "Sure" Jess snapped, "Just waiting on your pansy ass!"
Sarah blushed. She hated that Jess had seen that she was about to bail again. And so she swallowed the comment she was about to make, the one that suggested that they head on their normal route along the lake and through the cornfield. They mounted and headed down the drive. Jess looked at Sarah and smirked at her face, pinched with worry.
“What! I’m coming aren’t I!” Sarah said.
“You are now! But wait till you hear what I found out!” Jess replied. “I was talking to Melissa Wong yesterday and she told me that the legend of Jack McKey and his wife Elizabeth is actually true!
“Whatever” Sarah said, “everyone knows that! So some farmer went mad and killed his wife a hundred years ago. That doesnt mean anything. The ghost of Lady McKey is just something that all the stoners think they see when they go in the woods to have raves and smoke up. That’s what my Dad told me.”
“Then why have all those people gone missing?” Jess shot back.
“Because people are all high as a kite and wandering around a massive forest! Dah!”
“Well were going to find out!” Jess and Sarah turned down the well worn path leading into the woods, leaving the light behind them.
I am going to "Ghost it forward" to:
-My friend Stephanie over at The School Of Life With Horses. Always informative, well written and touched with humor! Stephanie has had a stroke of bad luck lately and so has not been writing as much as usual. I hope she is back to bloggin' steadily soon! Lets all send her good luck and best wishes for a speedy recovery! Steph- no worries if you are not up to writing a little ghostly story just yet! I just hope things are looking up for you!