One step

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The veteran

One step then another, each more powerful than the last, rider and horse became one. My first love was horses, the shininess of a horses coat when the sun hit it. Or the soft silky feeling as you pet their neck. Every horse I ever saw at Dog lake towered over me but I wasn't afraid. The moment I saw a horse for the first time I knew they would forever have my heart.

"Elias I see one let's got," I shouted as we both ran in opposite directions of the lake. We met on the other side and I saw the horse first,"Hi, can I pet your horsey." I asked and then waited for Elias to catch up so he too could pet the horse. We did this nearly every day at least 3 times a day.

The most powerful moments in our lives are the ones we don't even realize til years later. They change every action we make and influence every decision. For me that was when I met Old Man Henry.

Skip. Hop. Don't you fall.

I replayed the same words over and over in my head as I left my tent, that I shared with Elias, each morning. Turn the corner and follow the path, don't get lost. I managed to find my way and was welcomed by others camping near Old Man Henry's tent.

"Henry, Natalie is here to see you," someone said as they stepped out of his tent and ruffled my hair. I shook my curls and smiled then turned my attention back to Henry's tent. He emerged shortly and my smile grew. "Hello youngin," he said passing, "what's that in your hand?" I asked trying my best to see. "It's a metal from the war," I looked up shocked,"what war?" I asked very interested now. "World war I, I would have fought in World war II but i was injured." Whoa I thought, maybe that's why he has a cane, not just cause he's old. " I have a story to tell, go fetch Elias and Issac."

I ran as fast as I could, they would probably be in the tree overhanging the sand. They spent most their time there avoiding Damon, he cried too much.

"Elias! ELIAS! I screamed as loud as I could while I ran. "Yes Natalie?" He looked at me oddly. "Henry has a story to tell he wants you and Issac to listen." I didn't need to say anything more they both hopped down and we all raced to his tent.

"Hello kids, now let's begin...." I listened in fascination as he told of bombs blowing up and guns being shot from all angles. He told us that he had metal in his leg, shoulder, arm, and spine. "That's why I can never be outside when there is lighting." He was my hero, his skin was so tan it looked like leather, he had no beard but he did have long white hair. He had a limp that told you he was a tough man. His ribs showed and his spine pocked out slightly but he was as active and healthy as anyone else I had seen.

I studied his face as he spoke, I had grown to admire him more than I knew possible, kinda like a father figure. He was like my dad in so many ways, they were both tall and dark. He was also very kind, he saved my family from a 10 foot alligator once. He kept me and Elias company when the other campers would come and go. I once asked why he stayed all the time and he simply smiled at me.

I shifted in my seat as I listened to him, I was starting to get really sweaty. He told us we could continue with the story later so me, Elias, and Issac rushed to the water. I was bobbing my head in and out of the water when Elias called to me.

"Natalie come meet Ben." He stated. I stood up and walked out dripping wet. "Hi Ben," I whispered. "He can't hear you sweetie." His mother stated turning around to greet me and hand me a few toys. I didn't understand, was he ignoring me or something? Before I could ask Elias started explaining. He basically said that Ben got sick as a child and his ears broke. I was shocked.

I wanted to cry for him but his mom said he could still communicate and understand us. I looked puzzled at her and she told me about sign language. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with him and when we talked his mom signed, when he signed she told us what he said.

He was one funny kid even though I never heard him speak, eventually they left. I felt like I knew so much about the world, that was until Jack came. Apparently I had a grandpa...what's that I thought to myself when I met him?

Will life change for me? I didn't want it to I liked living by water and always seeing horses. It was all I knew, the woods.


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