Chapter 1- Mr. Arrogant
It was a Sunday like no other. It was a bleary and gloomy morning at 6:00 am. The dream I was having was a really good one but it was cut short when the rooster crowed. I slowly sat up in my bed with weary and droopy eyes, with rheum sticking my eyelashes together. I rubbed my eyes and soon reclaimed my sight.
I got up and dragged my body to the bathroom to change out of my nightgown and brush my teeth. I was super energetic in the mornings, it’s just that this morning, I was feeling super lazy. I grabbed the toothbrush and held it up to my mouth, the toothpaste falling off slightly.
“Hi. I would like to introduce myself, I am China Humpfree. A simple country girl one might say.” I grinned at my reflection.
“I live in Riverdale with Mr. Raymon Humpfree, my father; I have many farm duties. My father is a small agriculturalist; he owns a small farm just about 110 marches away from our house, and another farm named ‘Raymon’s Ranch’.” I said sluggishly.
“My dad is successful and acknowledged for the different breeds of horses he owns. I am 16 and will be turning 17, next month on the 2nd of October. I hope to be the chosen participant of Cash Or Coins.” I had prepared that speech every morning. I really wanted to win that game but you couldn’t just enter, you had to be chosen to play.
After getting ready, I left the house and went outside to the nearby farm. In the barn, I went to the chicken coop, to collect eggs to make breakfast for my dad and myself. This was always the hardest thing to do. No one liked getting pecked by the hens.
One would have to be very sly and cunning to snatch the eggs from the chicken’s roost without being caught, or you’d have to suffer the consequences of the mother hen. They were always fierce in guarding and keeping their little hatchlings safe. I just wanted an egg, was that too much to ask for?
The only way I got get away without getting pecked was by singing the hens’ favorite song. I realized this worked one morning when I was busy listening to music and got lost in the music. Trust me, when I say I got pecked a lot before I became good at it and was given the name ‘Hen Whisperer’ by my Dad.
I distracted the hens by singing, I’m into you, by J Lo and Lil Wayne. The hens gave the impression that they liked the lyrics of the song. The effect was hypnotic. I made certain to sing the chorus of the song twice seeming it was their favorite part of the song.
After I finished snatching the eggs while singing, I would hide it in the pockets of my overalls. Then I would give the hens a curtsy and leave quietly. By the time the hens had realized I had snatched their eggs, I was already back at the house.
I went to the kitchen to prepare my dad’s breakfast, he’d be up very soon. I fried plantains, boiled two eggs and buttered two slices of bread with some sweet corn, that I had grown in the little garden behind the barn. I made him some freshly squeezed orange juice and some Earl Grey Tea. I was accustomed to making tea and orange juice for my dad’s breakfast. He was very peculiar. He didn’t like tea so he would work all day and not have anything warm, then he’d come home with a bad case of stomachaches.
Half an hour passed and he was still asleep peaceful and all, it aggrieved me to disrupt his dreams but he had to wake up or else he was going to be late for work. I went to his room and peeked my head in, assessing the room to see if he was up and just lazy to get up.
I shook him hard, “Dad, wake up. You’ll be late for work if you sleep in.”
“Hmm, yes, yes, yes, I’m up.” He answered quickly, annoyance resonating from his voice. “Check back in five minutes.” He told me, his eyes still closed and drool running down his lips and soaking the pillow wet. I giggled at the sleeping man as he washed the bed with his spit.
“Dad, I’ve made you breakfast; it’s gonna get cold and if you don’t wake soon you’ll be late for work.” He shot up like a rocket when I mentioned breakfast.
I laughed, “What’s for breakfast dear?”
“I made fried eggs, plantains, and bread; also with some sweet corn,” I replied. He came downstairs consumed his breakfast, like a hungry goblin, then left him to get ready for work.
I went back to the barn to finish my duties. The cows’ stations needed cleaning, I had to feed and milk the cows. I tied each cow in the barn, one by one, and milked all seven, using a squeezing massage-like technique to milk them. I had cleaned and all I had to do now was milk and feed. While milking Mira, a cow, she lifted her tail and shat on my overalls. I decided that was enough milking for the day so I went to the pipe to wash my hands. When I came back I opened the gate and directed the cows to the neighboring meadow where a little stream ran.
I had to go back to the chicken’s coop to feed them which I had forgotten to do when I was snatching their eggs. The cow shit on my overalls reeked but I decided to just get over with my work so I could shower. I fed the angry hens with some corn and then entered the pigs’ section. My dad owned many animals including pigs, cows, chickens, horses, goats, and sheep. I fed and gave the pigs water and they were quite jubilant. I fed and gave water to the rest of the animals and saved the best for last.
It was the horses’ turn, my favorite animals. My father owned more than 25 horses. He gave me one and for himself took one. The name of my father’s horse was Lanter. He was a black stallion. I named my horse Safire. Safire was a smart horse but was very stubborn and determined. Lanter was Safire’s father.
Safire was an amber fire-colored stallion, with a long beautiful mane. She liked running in the open. I’d go horse-back-riding every Sunday evening. Safire was faster than the speed of light and when the wind caught her mane, there was nothing I could do to hold her back. Every year, summertime, since my dad owned this farm, my dad held a Horse Renting Program otherwise known as Horse Land City. Children and adults were welcome to choose and learn to ride horses.
Riding lessons were offered in a class which my father thought it was time I taught, beginning tomorrow. I gave them hay and water and apologized to Safire for being too tired to go to the meadow with her today. However, I promised Safire that I would make it back in time for our trip.
When I got back to the house, I changed my overalls and took a shower and went to the kitchen to make some ice-cream with the ingredients I had bought Saturday. I was tired and thought I deserved a treat, so I went to my room and sat on my bed for a while. My free will and my eyes began to battle on whether or not I should stay awake; soon after I gave in, then I fell asleep.
The next morning, I was awoken by my alarm clock. I got up and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and have a bath. I put on my brown cowgirl boots, black pants, and a brown blouse. My dad woke up early too to help with the duties today. We went to the barn, fed all the animals by 9 and milked and led all seven cows into the meadow by 9:45. We were getting the horses ready for their new riders this year. I was grooming some of the horses when my dad told me I needed to make a friend this Summer.
"China, you need to make a friend this Summer, it's pretty for a teenager to be all about work." He sighed, "I'm grateful for the help, with the farm animals and so on but you need to get a life."
I frowned at him, "I do have a life, I do a lot of stuff with my friends."
"Like what?" He asked sharply.
"I-uh, I..." I was a blank. I did have friends, I wasn't a complete loser but I didn't have any close friends.
"This is what I mean. Ever since Rachel died, you've become a bit anti-social." I wasn't anti-social, I just didn't see the need for small talk or getting to know anyone for any particular reason. Oh, I hear it now... I guess I was a bit close off since mom died but then again, she was my best friend. "Try to make a friend today and I mean really try. Okay?"
I nodded, agreeing with him. We went to the meadow and we started setting up for today's customers. In no time, dad set up the whole course for training. Some workers had arrived too, including Mr. McCall, who was our obstacle course trainer, and Iquadine Saunders who was a gold medalist horse racer. They helped us get everything in order.
Tyler Terrier was a riding coach, and Chicora Penning, the town’s well-known vet arrived later. These four experts made the Horse Land City a complete and utter success. They all had a team who specialized in their field so there was a lot of people here. My dad had told me that I would be working with Mr. McCall and Mr. Terrier. I would be assisting them with the children.
As soon as we opened tourists, families, and friends came by. They rented a horse and went to choose one, in the barn. Sometimes, a whole family of 10 persons would rent 10 horses and this was a beautiful sight seeing them enjoy their selves.
We had about 13 kids in the beginners’ class and I helped them position themselves on their horses. I also showed them how to calm their horses if they are riled up. I made sure that they knew they weren't supposed to hit their horses. Mr. McCall told me to demonstrate by doing the obstacle course in a race. I got Safire and Mr. McCall put me in a race with the Secondary class.
These were riders, who like me knew how to control and ride a horse already; for the other riders this was only for fun but for Safire and me, it wasn’t. They cleared the obstacle course for this race. Many visitors stood to watch. We started at the obstacle course at the sound of the gunshot. Safire darted off as fast as she could. I grabbed onto her strap, bent my back to reach her ear and spoke. “Safire, let’s enjoy ourselves but let’s win.” To me, she seemed to understand because she ran even faster than before.
We jumped the fence, and bent on the corner; we were doing well until we had a rival. He was taller than me, focused and wore a cowboy hat. We were racing alongside each other. We jumped the last fence now and were heading toward the final bend. I looked at the crowd and spotted my dad who had a big smile imprinted on his face from ear to ear. I could see the sparkle in his eye and didn’t want to let him down. We went around the final bend and were headed to the finish line. I pulled up the strap on Safire, and shouted, “Yaw!” in determination. Safire galloped across the finish line and I knew victory was mine.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I got off Safire and tended to her. I gave her some water which I knew she would appreciate, and her personal favorite, carrots for a treat. Many of the people in the crowd came by and took pictures of Safire and me. My father came up to me and gave me a hand of applause soon after everyone joined in. My dad told me to take a break and then come to the booth to help him. After that being said he left.
The second place winner took off his hat and he and his horse came up to me and Safire. He was mocha chocolate in complexion, he was an American boy with short black messy hair that seemed he had run his fingers through it one too many times. He held out his hand for a handshake and I shook his hand. He then introduced himself, “You have a good connection with your horse, you're both determined.” He complimented me.
I blushed involuntarily, “Thanks, you're not so bad yourself You really know what you're doing.”
“I know, I'm good, even better than you. I just saw that you really wanted to win so I let you have it.” I felt like hitting him across the face right then and there, how could he be so rude.
"You're quite cocky for someone who just lost," I remarked. "I'm glad this conversation is over." I walked off, I was done talking with this arrogant prick. I had to get back to the booth; I still had to help my dad.
"Well, I wouldn't be so sure about that." I stopped in my tracks.
"What do you mean?" I asked as I turned around to face him.
"I'll be staying with you this Summer." My eyes almost fell from their sockets and I frowned at him.
"You'll be what?!" I was infuriated my dad didn't tell me. I marched all the way to the booth to find my dad and he followed behind me. I held on tightly to Safire's strap, holding in my anger and that's when I saw my father smiling at me.
“I see you’ve met Ace. He’ll be staying with us until the end of the Horse Land City.” I threw him a death glare.
The handsome devil was telling the truth and I knew if he didn't leave before the summer ended, I'd possibly become a murderer.
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