A Deal To Be Made

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IV

March 9th, 1918 Birmingham Country Side



The heavy thud of Julip's hooves assaults the ground as Blythe pushes her mare harder. The feel of her sinewy muscles contracting with every gallop pumping adrenaline through Blythe's body. The wind pulses through her hair making her wish she would have worn it up and out of the way. The smile plastered on Blythe's face is no match for anything in this very moment. This is where she was meant to be, racing on the back of a pure muscle machine running free in the open country where the only worries she carries are what nature has to throw at her.

Pulling on the reins to her horse, they both come to a slow stop next to a slow trickling creek that cascaded through the backcountry of her father's property. Blythe slides out of the saddle, patting Julip delicately as the mare leans down generously drinking out of the creek. The trees this time of year hold a lovely vibrant green color that compliments the white flowers blossoming between the petals. This was always one of her favorite spots to come when she had felt like she had lost her way in life. It never provided many answers, but it was enough to calm the nagging in her mind for a few hours at least.

Taking this time she had all to herself, Blythe reached into the pocket of her jockey jacket and pulled out her slim, silver case. A sigh of frustration left her lips, knowing she should quit this awful habit. But after days of harassment from a boss, and a life of social status isolation it was one of her many vices.

Grabbing one of the slender black sticks she placed it in her mouth before promptly lighting a match she had retrieved from the same pocket and waited until the plume of smoke wafted from the end of the cigarette before waving out the match. She breathed in the toxins deeply. The first puff was always the most refreshing.

From over her shoulder, Julip brayed at her, snorting and pawing at the dewy ground. "I know, I know Julip. I'll quit next week." She chided her horse with the same phrase she repeats week after week. As if the mare understood her, she snorted once more before turning a half circle and beginning to slink alongside the creek, away from Blythe.



Blythe chose to spend the next few hours lounging about in the long grass and enjoying the sound of the creek flowing around her and the soft munchings of her mare. It was nearing time to head back to the house to help her father with dinner preparations. Every Saturday that she visits she helps him cook dinner for the two of them to sit down and enjoy before she packs up and leaves to trudge back to the inner workings of Birmingham City. Standing up, she brushes off the small pieces of grass and dirt that had stuck themselves to her pants. Blythe whistles gently to call her horse back to her side. After a few seconds, she can hear Julip whinny, suggesting that she is close.

Climbing back up onto her mare, Blythe begins back down the path she had taken that leads her to return to the barn. Her horse moves slowly through the long grass, enjoying the time as much as her rider. And then it all happens within the blink of an eye.

Blythe's breath stopped dead in her throat. Eyes slowly widening as if everything was moving in slow motion. Her hands grip the reigns tighter trying to prevent what is inevitably about to happen. A hissing in the grass. She watches the whites of Julip's eyes widen until her irises are barely visible. As if someone had tied an invisible string to the front hooves of her mare, she begins to watch the landscape in front of her transition into the beautiful blue color of the sky above her. The violent hiss grows louder and louder eventually accompanied by the terrified scream of Blythe's mare.



It was minutes before Blythe built the courage to open her eyes again. There were no sounds. No hissing, no screaming, no wind blowing, no birds chirping. For half a moment, Blythe was absolutely convinced she had died right then and there. It was when the aching throb that pounded in the back of her head began that Blythe realized she was in fact, not dead. She tried to wheeze out any breath that she could muster while she blinked a few times. The image of the sky warbled in her eyes, only increasing the pulsing ache in her head. Ever so slowly she pulled her hand up from her side to place it on the back of her skull. She pulled away, grimacing at the dark red spots that decorated her hand. She had definitely landed on a medium-sized rock partially buried in the ground.

Exerting maximum effort to sit up, Blythe cried out as the pain blinded her once more. It was then all of the sounds surrounding her came rushing at once. The gentle noise of the creek was back accompanied by the breeze rustling the grasses around her. What concerned her the most was she couldn't hear the huffing and snorting of her mare. She couldn't lay here forever. She had to force herself up and find her mare before something happened to her. That mare was one of her only pride and joys and Blythe wasn't about to lose her over a damned rattler.
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