“Another failed relationship. Why should I be surprised Renegade?”
If only Renegade could actually answer me. He is the best listener I know, but not exactly the best at giving advice. Science has yet to discover a way for us to communicate effectively. Though, his inability to talk back is refreshing.
After I drop the body brush into the bucket, I return to Renegade. As though he senses I need comfort he swings his head to me and nudges my shoulder.
In return I wrap my arms around his sleek neck, “You may not be able to verbalize, but I swear you can understand every word I say.”
The only answer I receive is him stomping his foot and swishing his tail. The tears can no longer be contained and fall as I burry my face into his neck.
Why am I allowing myself to cry over Ken? We were only together for a month. Not like we were planning a future together.
“Come on Skylar. We are burning daylight!” Vanessa yells to me from the front of the barn. She already has Corona tacked up and ready to go. “We both aren’t playing hooky from work to just stay at the barn all day. Let’s go!” I watch her dark head of hair disappear out the door.
Reluctantly, I pull my arms from around Renegade’s neck and stare from his still bare back to the saddle on the ground. I think I need to train Renegade to saddle himself. He shakes his head no, almost like he can read my thoughts.
“Come on boy.” I pat him on the neck. “Sure, would make my life easier!” An even better idea comes to me. “Next, I can train you to muck your own stall!”
He drops his head and his eyes start to droop close.
“Yeah that’s what I thought.” Continuing with my task I place the blanket and saddle on his back. The only acknowledgement he offers is when he lets out a snort as I tighten the girth. Once done I unclip him from the cross ties and slip on his bridle.
He is now all ready to go. At times it seems he takes longer to get ready than myself. I walk him down the barn aisle and out the door.
Vanessa is already mounted in her saddle when I join her outside.
“About time!” She yells down to me.
Ignoring her, I lead Renegade over to the mounting block. I flip the reigns over his head and check to make sure the saddle is tight enough. Once Im satisfied I put my left foot in the stirrup and swing my leg over.
Maneuvering him next to Corona I tell her. “Let’s go.”
The horses take off at a brisk pace. Happy to be riding outside rather than the arena. We ride over to the trail.
“So, spill and I won’t take nothing for an answer,” Vanessa demands of me.
“He said he’s not ready for a relationship. That he’s still not completely over his ex.”
“What a jerk. He should have thought about that before he asked you out.”
“He didn’t know he would have these hang ups at the time.” Renegade starts to prance as though he has grown bored with the conversation. I pat him on the neck to calm him, “Easy buddy. We are almost to the spot I can let you run.”
He snorts his displeasure. Which causes me I to laugh and Vanessa joins in.
Corona starts to tug at her bit. She too is ready to run.
We make the final turn on the path and see no one in front of us. I barely have to signal Renegade and he takes off at a gallop.
I love the feeling of letting him run. The wind in your hair and the rhythmic movement of their strides. No better feeling in the world. Okay maybe sex might be slightly better.
Before I’m ready, I need to start slowing him down. I bring him down to a trot and then a walk. Corona trots up next to us and the horses break to a brisk walk.
I rub his sweaty neck and tell him he’s a good boy.
“I’m glad you called. I really didn’t want to have to go into work today.”
“You never want to go into work.” I remind her. “Time to start looking for a new job?”
“Nah. I’m happy there.”
“You do realize you just contradicted yourself?” Instead of answering me she cues Corona to canter. Renegade tugs at the reins. He doesn’t like being left behind.
“Alright boy. Go get her.” He takes off in pursuit.
As I’m pulling off Renegade’s saddle my phone rings. I remove the phone from my pocket and check the caller i.d.
Immediately I answer the phone when I see the caller is Dimitri.
“Hey what’s up?”
“Not much just got out of work and thought I’d give you a call. You seemed down last night when we were texting.” His voice is laced with concern.
“I’m alright. Vanessa and I just got back from a trail ride. And since when do you call what you do work?”
He laughs, “I do what I want. Playing hooky from work? Now I know something is truly wrong. Spill!”
As I ponder for a second Renegade starts to prance in the aisle. He can be jealous at times.
“Hey can I call you back? I want to get Renegade settled. Ill call you once I leave here.” I say all in a rush. Thankfully Dimitri can understand me when I talk fast we have been friends way too long for him not to.
“I suppose. I was going to go out with the guys tonight.”
“Go out the with guys. I’ll text you.” I pick up the saddle and struggle on the walk to my tack locker.
“Nah. I can go out with them a different night. Plus, I can’t remember the last time we were actually able to talk on the phone.”
I maneuver the saddle into place and let out a sigh. “You okay over there?” He asks me.
I slump against the locker. “Yeah, I am good. Just trying to get my saddle into the locker while still on the phone. Turned out to be harder than I thought, but I did conquer the task.” I wipe the sweet from my forehead. “I can’t wait to get home and take a shower.”
“Yeah, I can smell you all the way from over here.” I can hear the smile in his voice.
“Ha..Ha..Ha you are sooooooo funny.” I lock my locker and head back over to Renegade. I unclip the cross ties from his halter and lead him into his stall.
“I know I should give up my line of work and go into comedy.”
The laugher spills from me uncontrollably. When he says nothing I quickly add, “Wait, you weren’t being serious.” I pause worried I offended him. “Were you?”
He hesitates as though he is really thinking about my question. “Nope. I get more ass doing what I do now.”
I roll my eyes as though he can see me, “Of course. Such a guy answer.”
“Well hunny last time I checked I am guy.”
“Are you sure?” I tease him.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
I slip Renegade’s halter off and try to kiss his nose, but he shows more interests in his hay than me. “Fine be a brat.” I tell him
“How am I being a brat? You of all people should know I’m a guy.” His tone reflects he is slightly offended.
“Sorry I was talking to Renegade.” I pat the brat on the neck.
“I can’t wait to meet him!”
“Get your butt out here then.” I slip out of the stall and lock Renegade in for the night.
“Babe you know that is easier said than done with work.”
“Yeah...yeah..yeah, let’s see,” I count my fingers, “I’ve made what two trips out to see you?”
“I saw you at your dorm once.”
“Only because you were already in town and that chick stood you up. Hell, I wouldn’t even had known you were in town if I hadn’t of texted you.” I snap at him.
“Skylar really? You know what I was going through. And plus, we weren’t talking all that much.”
“All just small details.” I lean back on the stall door.
He signs and I can hear the frustration in his voice.
“I was being deployed and dealing with Sierra.”
“I know.” I try to hide the hurt from my voice, but I have a feeling I failed.
“Okay okay.” Nothing I can really do about the past.
Vanessa walks down the aisle towards me. “I’m about to head home.”
I pull the phone away from my mouth, “Me too. I’m beat.”
She glances down at the phone and raises her eye brow.
“Dimitri.” I inform her.
“Still can’t believe you know Dimitri from Steel Wolf.”
“I more than know him.” I inform her as I wiggle my eyebrow.
“TMI my friend. TMI.”
I shrug my shoulders, “Still true all the same.”
“What’s true?” I hear Dimitri ask from the phone.
I raise the phone back to my ear, “Nothing. Nothing at all.”
His laughter fills my ears, “Why do I not believe you?”
“I have no clue. That’s your problem not mine.”
“Yeah yeah yeah whatever you say babe.”
“I’ll catch you later!” I call after Vanessa. She raises her hand in response as she walks away.
I turn around to give Renegade one more good bye pat, but he continues to munch on his hay. I am forgotten.
“You on your way home yet?” Dimitri asks.
“About to head to my car now.” I inform his as I walk towards the parking lot.
When I reach my car, I open my car door and slip inside. I start the engine and back out of the parking lot. I’m almost to the end of the drive way before Dimitri says something. “So, spill what’s going on?” His voice fills my car.
“Ken dumped me last night.” My throat clogs and I almost can’t get the words out.
“Please tell me you aren’t crying over that jackass?” The tears start to fall and I start to sob. “Baby please don’t cry. He’s not worth these tears. He not worth another minute of your time.”
I nod my head and then remember he can’t see me. “Your right. But I can’t help, but wonder that there is something wrong with me.” I continue before he can say something. “I mean the only common factor in all my failed relationships is me. So, by default there must be something wrong with me.”
“Babe you know that’s not true.”
I wipe the tears from my eyes. “Come on Dimitri. We attempted to date not once, but twice.”
“We never once didn’t work because we weren’t good together.” He reminds me.
“I know, I know,” I interpret him, “Just crappie timing.”
“Exactly.” We lapse into a comfortable silence. Both lost in the past.
“Hey Dimitri how goes training?” I attempt to hide the surprise from my voice because he actually answered the phone. Lately I have been conversing with his voicemail.
“It goes. Just getting ready for deployment.” His voice sounds flat.
“Sounds like a barrel of monkey fun.” I try to keep my tone up beat.
“You know it.” He sounds really distracted.
“I miss you.”
“Miss you too babe.”
“So, what else is new?” I ask him trying to get him to engage in the conversation.
“Same old same old.”
I feel like I’m pulling teeth. Hell, at this point I think pulling teeth would be easier. He has seemed really distant this past month and enough is enough. I can’t take it anymore. “What is wrong you haven’t seemed like yourself lately?”
At first, he doesn’t respond because he’s trying to sort his thoughts. The fight to hold back the tears begins. “I just have a lot going on right now. Between deployment and...” He trails off.
“And what Dimitri? Please tell me.” My voice grows soft.
“I don’t know how to tell you.”
He lets out a sigh, “I’ve met someone.”
“I see.” Now, I keep my voice flat because I don’t want him to hear me crying.
“I’m sorry. I know we talked about a future, but distance is hard.”
“If you really want to be with someone you would find a way to make the relationship work.” My voice rises in anger. “I was going to wait for you while you were deployed.”
“I know. We can still be friends.” The famous phrase right up there with its not you it’s me. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “I need space. Maybe someday we can go back to being friends, but right now I just can’t.” The tears pool behind my eyes.
“I understand.” He really has nothing much to say to me anymore. Especially after all the long conversations we have had for the past several months. All the plans we made. All for what? Nothing.
“I wish you luck. Goodbye Dimitri.”
“I’m sorry. So so sorry.”
“Goodbye Dimitri.” I have nothing more I wish to tell him.
“Take care Skylar.”
I curl up on the bed and cry my heart out. I cry and cry till I have nothing left and only then do I fall into a non-restful slumber.
“Skylar,” I hear my voice being called. “Hello earth to Skylar. Do you copy?”
I shake my head to clear my thoughts. “Sorry I was thinking about the conversation we had the last time we tried to make things work.”
“Babe please don’t go down that path. I was a complete idiot. That stuff is in the past and should stay there.”
“But I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I’m still slightly hurt.”
“You have no idea how very sorry I am. And you are right to feel the way you do. I treated you like shit back then. I’m just so glad we are back talking again.
“Wanna know something funny?”
“I feel lost when I don’t hear from you. Almost like I need to talk to you every day.” I hold my breath waiting for his response.
“I feel the same way.” He says softly. I can’t stop the goofy grin from spreading across my face.
I pull into my driveway. “I just got home let me get settled in my room and I will call you back.”
“Okay beautiful. Sounds like a plan to me.”
“Love you.” I tell him. We have always told each other that we love one another. Over the years the just as friends part has become lost.
“Love you too.”
I hang up the phone and head into the house.