Authors: Angela Dorsey
Tags: #pony, #horse, #angel, #dream, #thomas, #silver, #guardian, #dorsey, #joanna, #angela, #angelica
Joanna flattened herself against the
back of the shed. She could hear the girl through the wall, talking
softly to the horses. One hoof scraped along the wooden floor. A
large body rubbed against the rough walls.
“Hold still, Dancer,” the girl
said, a little louder.
The horse kicked the enclosure,
and the crash made Joanna jump.
“Whoa, Dancer. Whoa.” Kathy’s
voice was getting desperate. She needed help. The perfect
Joanna hurried around the side
of the shed and knocked on the door. “Hello? Is anyone there?” she
called out, as if she were an innocent visitor. All sound within
the shed ceased, as if everyone inside had trained their attention
on the door. Joanna turned the doorknob and walked inside.
A girl around her own age, with
wavy, reddish blonde hair, was standing near a huge bay
Thoroughbred. Closer, in fact, than Joanna would have stood. The
big horse looked extremely agitated, and she’d seen how quickly
horses could move or strike out when angry or frightened.
“Sorry,” she said. “I heard a
noise, so I came out here rather than go to the house.”
“Who are you?” the girl managed
“I’m Joanna, from next door. I
heard Mr. Thomas had a girl staying with him, so I thought I’d come
say hi.” Her eyes wandered over the other two horses in the tiny
shed, the first a black mare – a Standardbred? – and the second, a
chestnut gelding, either a Quarter Horse or a Quarter
Her gaze swept back to the big
bay. He looked familiar. Had she seen him before?
“That’s Tango,” Joanna said.
Immediately she regretted her words. Maybe she should have thought
them through first. But there was no going back now.
“What do you mean? This is
Dancer, my Grandpa’s horse.”
Joanna walked toward the
magnificent bay. “No. I’ve seen him before, and his name is
definitely Tango. I’ve even seen videos of some of his races. He’s
retired now, but he’s like a local celebrity. He was raised on a
farm just a few miles away.”
The girl stepped between her and
the horse. “This is Grandpa’s horse. You’re wrong.”
Joanna stopped to stare into the
girl’s narrowed green eyes. “You don’t really believe that, do
“I want you to leave now.”
Behind the girl, the stallion’s
ears flattened further. He kicked the back wall and the girl
flinched, but didn’t take her eyes from Joanna.
“No, she does not believe this
is her grandfather’s horse.”
Joanna spun around to see
Angelica in the doorway. Immediately, all three horses perked up.
For the first time, Joanna saw Tango’s ears go forward. He stepped
past the girl and Joanna, completely ignoring the fact that he was
pulling the girl along on the end of his lead rope.
Angelica laid her cheek against
his nose and closed her eyes. Then she straightened his forelock.
“Do not worry, Tango. I will help you.”
“His name isn’t Tango. It’s
Dancer.” Though the girl looked terrified, she was still speaking
up. “You better go, or I’ll call Grandpa again.” Even her voice was
Angelica gestured to the black. “And this is Bonnie.” Her hand
moved on toward the chestnut. “That is Breeze.”
“No, they’re Rocket Gal and
Wings.” The girl spoke so quietly that Joanna could hardly hear
her. For the first time, she felt a pang of sympathy for the girl.
She looked so frightened, so absolutely miserable.
“Your name is Kathy? I heard
your grandfather call you that last night,” Angelica asked
The girl’s shoulders slumped
forward. “No. My name is Cally.”
“I thought he had you confused
with someone else.” When Cally looked down at the floorboards,
Angelica added, “I am sorry.”
“Sorry? Why?” asked Joanna. “And
why does he call you Kathy?” she asked, turning to Cally.
“His mind is confusing past and
present,” Angelica explained. “It happens sometimes to older
humans. And I am sorry, because, well…” She looked at Cally with
“It’s okay. I know the truth.”
Cally paused. Swallowed. “I know he probably won’t get better.” She
dropped Tango’s lead rope, sat on bale of hay, and buried her head
in her hands. When she finally looked up, her cheeks were smudged
with tears. “He started calling me Kathy a week after I got here.
At first I thought he was joking, pretending I was really my mom.
“He talked to you about the
horses, Wings, Dancer, and Rocket Gal, as well?” encouraged
“Yes.” She pinched her lips
“So he really thought these
horses were his?” Joanna asked.
“He told me he was going to
bring them home, and then he did.”
“What happened to the real
Wings, Rocket Gal, and Dancer?” asked Joanna, though she already
had an idea – because of the story she’d heard about Mr. Thomas
going broke and his horses being sold to pay his debts. That was
ages ago, but if he was confusing past and present, even calling
his granddaughter by his daughter’s name, it could seem like it all
happened last week to Mr. Thomas.
Cally stared at the floor.
“Someone stole them, or that’s what he said anyway.” She looked up,
her eyes full of tears. “One day he brought me out here, and Wings
– I mean Breeze – was in the shed. At first I thought it was great,
but then the black one showed up too. What was her name again?”
“Bonnie. And he kept talking
about Dancer, how soon he’d bring him home too. I started wondering
if he was stealing them, but didn’t know what to do, how to stop
“Why didn’t you tell someone?”
“Tell who?” Cally looked up at
her with desperate eyes. “I don’t know any of Grandpa’s friends,
and I can’t tell the police. They’d just put him in jail. The only
thing I could think to do was wait for Mom and Dad to get home from
their vacation. They’ll know how to fix everything,
they’ll do it without hurting Grandpa.”
“But what about the horses?
Don’t you care if they get hurt?”
Cally covered her face again.
Obviously, she did care.
“We understand that you were
undecided,” Angelica said. She moved to sit beside Cally on the hay
bale. “But now we can help you. You are not alone in this.” She put
her arm around the girl’s shoulders.
Cally jumped up as if stung.
“You can’t tell anyone.” All her misery had changed back to
palpable fear. “Please, for Grandpa. I know my mom and dad can make
everything right. They’ll be back from their vacation tomorrow
morning. The horses will be okay until tomorrow, won’t they? It’s
almost over. I’ll take good care of them, I promise.”
Joanna looked around. “I don’t
know. The shed’s pretty small. What if one of the horses kicks
another one? Tango seems really stressed, and he’s bigger than the
other two. He could hurt them.”
Angelica nodded. “Tango longs to
be home. He does not like it here. And Bonnie is finding it
difficult living in this shed. She is in foal and her legs hurt if
she stands too long in one place.”
Angelica nodded. “And not very
happy. Only Breeze is happy in this place.”
“He is?” Cally’s voice was soft
as she looked up at the muscular Quarter Horse.
“Yes. He loves the attention you
lavish on him.” Angelica smiled. “He does not get much at
Cally didn’t smile back. “See?
It may not be so bad for them. Please, please, don’t tell anyone.”
Her lip quivered. “They’ll put Grandpa in jail if you tell anyone.
And if you sneak them back to their real homes, he’ll just go out
to steal them again tonight. That’s too dangerous for him and
“I think Cally is right,”
Angelica interrupted. “The horses can stay, as long as they agree.”
She stood to gaze into Tango’s soulful eyes. The horse bobbed his
head and snorted, then backed into his corner, and stood
Angelica moved on to Bonnie. Her
fingertips roved over the jet-black face. Bonnie sighed. Lowered
“What’s she doing?” Cally
whispered to Joanna.
Angelica moved on to Breeze.
Joanna didn’t know what to
answer. She’d never seen anything so bizarre, but it looked as if
Angelica was not only asking the horses’ permission to leave them
here for one more night, but they were answering her!
The teenager finally turned
toward them. “They will stay until tomorrow, as long as you promise
they will be safe.”
Cally didn’t hesitate. “I
promise. But how did you–”
“There’s something else,” Joanna
said, interrupting her. “We need something in return.”
“Anything, since you’re not
telling on Grandpa,” said Cally. “Just tell me what I can do.”
“My friend, David, is missing,”
Angelica said. “He was here last night, outside the shed, and I
just found a car behind one of the fallen buildings. I wonder if it
is his. Does your grandfather have a green car?” When Cally shook
her head, Angelica continued. “Then I think your grandfather has
imprisoned David, possibly in an attempt to keep the stolen horses
Cally’s face turned white. “But
“I heard him yelling at a guy
last night,” said Joanna.
“But there’s no place to hold
anyone here, other than this shed and the house. I would have
“Unless he’s hiding David from
you. Maybe he locked him away in a closet or something,” said
“I am very worried about him,
and afraid he might be hurt,” Angelica added. “We need to find
Cally looked first at Angelica,
then at Joanna, then back to the older girl. She nodded. “You
helped me, so I’ll help you. Stay here while I look for him. I’ll
be right back.”
Cally was gone for what seemed hours.
Joanna and Angelica waited behind the shed where they could look
around the corner to the house, talk to the horses through cracks
in the back wall, and yet still be protected from Mr. Thomas’s view
if he decided to come outside.
From behind the shed, they were
also in the perfect spot to get away from him unseen. They were a
two-minute run from the fence that separated the two properties,
and as long as they kept the shed between themselves and Mr.
Thomas, he wouldn’t see them.
However, the back of the shed
was unprotected from the sun and the sky was clear. As the morning
advanced, the air sweltered hotter and hotter. Joanna wiped sweat
from her forehead and closed her eyes against the brightness. How
delightfully cool Raven would be waiting in the shady forest. How
envious she was of him. Even the horses in the shed were protected
from the sun. If only they could wait inside… but it was too
She leaned back against the
wooden wall and listened to the drone of a bee come closer, closer,
then fly farther away. “Where are you from, Angelica?” she asked to
help pass the time. “Do you live around here?”
The answer was so short that
Joanna opened her eyes and looked at the older girl. “What about
“He does not live here
“So why are you here?”
“David called me.”
Joanna almost rolled her eyes.
That wasn’t what she meant. Angelica was so odd in that she took
everything so literally. Obviously, she’d have to word her
questions more clearly if she wanted an answer. “There must be a
reason for you and David to be here, or you’d be somewhere else,
right? And if the reason isn’t because either of you are from
around here, then how did you end up in Mr. Thomas’s yard?”
“I came here because David was
“So why was
Joanna tried once more, trying hard to keep her tone even and
A crease appeared on Angelica’s
forehead. “That I do not know, and it bothers me. There is more I
do not understand in this situation as well.”
Joanna shook her head. Angelica
really wasn’t very good at answering questions. “Like what?”
“Like why Cally’s grandfather
stole the horses.”
“Because he’s going senile.”
“Yes, that is true. But there
must be a deeper reason, a reason that explains why he believes the
horses are his to take back in the first place. I do not feel he is
a bad man, therefore he would need a valid reason to justify his
Joanna looked out across the
field. Angelica was right. She hadn’t thought of it that way
before, but Mr. Thomas flashing back to the past wasn’t enough of a
reason for him to steal horses. He had to have reason to believe
that somehow the horses still belonged to him.
“Also, I worry about David,” the
teenager continued. “It seems Mr. Thomas’s reaction to him, from
what you have said, was fuelled by anger instead of fear. If he
were trying to keep the stolen horses a secret, would he not have
sounded more afraid of discovery than angry?”