My cousin was visiting.
For two whole weeks.
She was a city girl.
But the only difference between a city girl and a ranch girl was location.
I took her swimming in the river.
She got sand in her suit.
She taught me ballet.
I fell over a lot.
I taught her how to swing from a rope in the hay loft.
She got a rope burn on her hands.
She taught me how act out stories.
I . . . actually, I liked that.
I tried to get her to ride the pigs.
She stood outside the fence and made faces.
She taught me gymnastics.
I fell and knocked the air out of me.
I decided it was time to teach her my most favourite thing.
I drug her out to the corral and pushed her up to the top rail.
Kicking and screaming.
Her, not me.
Looking back, I can see the differences between the two of us as we perched up on that fence.
The country and the city girl.
Me, in my inevitable shirt and jeans.
She in her white slacks and blouse and light blue sweater.
Even a fool would have found it obvious.
I wasn't a fool.
Well, actually . . . never mind.
The horses were drowsing in the corral.
She eyed them suspiciously.
“They're okay,” I reassured her. “C'mon.”
Trustingly, she followed me down and into the corral.
I picked out the nearest horse, Coco.
“Here. This is a good one.”
“But she's so huge!” Her eyes got bigger as she drew closer.
“She's gentle!” I gave the large, coco-brown mare a reassuring pat. The horse reached out and lipped my hair. “See?”
My cousin moved beside me.
“Okay. What do I do?”
I showed her how to stand beside the horse and grab a handful of mane.
Then I cupped my hands, told her to step into them and boosted her up.
At the proper time, she swung her leg.
She was aboard.
The excitement must be coursing through her.
She must be palpitating with accomplishment and eagerness and a sense of 'the world is mine'.
I stepped back.
I must admit that everything my cousin did was graceful.
Her walking. Her dancing.
Her falling off a horse.
It should have been all right.
The horse wasn't even moving, after all.
But she didn't land on the ground.
Instead, she fell into something much softer.
I don't think she was pleased.
I guess some people have a problem with large, steaming piles of . . . horse buns. Road apples. Horse puckies.
To the uninitiated, manure.
People are so weird.
She got to her feet.
And looked down at her light blue sweater.
Her heretofore pristine light blue sweater.
Then she looked at me.
I never got my cousin back up on one of our horses.
Instead we spent the rest of her stay dancing. Doing plays and gymnastics. Reading.
While Mom got the marks out of her sweater.
Before her mom saw them.