The cool and chilly wind nipped at the back of Easton Rae's exposed neck. The young man of nineteen years glanced to the American Quarter Horse mare that was lying down on a soft bed of fresh hay. The yearling had fallen ill, but no one in his family offered to take care of the poor animal; not his mother, his siblings, his father, aunts or uncles. Only he and his aging grandparents dared brave the cold and snow. Easton gently rubbed the mare's snout, his eyes not leaving her beautiful brown orbs.
"I'm not going anywhere, Reese," he stated, petting the mare, "Grandpa and Mamere need you to be healthy.".
Reese tiredly snorted, then she shook her head. The mare closed her eyes, her breathing beginning to slow. Easton pulled a blanket over her, then he sat back on his heels. A dark feeling in his heart alerted him to the gut feeling he had. He pulled his knees to his chest as the yearling died. A single tear slid down the boy's right cheek, then he arose to his feet. He began to trudge to the old, slightly rundown farmhouse.
He opened the screen door, then the big oak door. The smell of fresh chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies drifted through the air, giving a warm kiss to Easton's cold cheeks. He wiped his nose before he took off his snow and mud covered boots. He shuffled past his grandpa whom was napping in a recliner.
"Grandpa," Easton said softly.
"Hn," his grandpa grunted in his sleep, "I'm awake.".
"Reese passed," Easton said, his voice cracking.
Easton's grandfather sat up, his back as straight as a board. He glanced at his grandson, his eyes mimicking Easton's sorrowful ones. He gently clasped a good sized hand over his grandson's shoulder.
"We'll make it, Eas. You, your grandma and I," his grandfather said, "We will keep the ranch afloat. You've earned your place here and we're proud of you if the rest of the family isn't.".
Easton gave a soft smile, his eyes slightly dried. He helped his grandfather up from his seat and the two padded into the kitchen.
Was his grandfather right?