It had been almost two hours since they had arrived at the ranch, and still Tissy had not gotten up. This was a bad sign and Tara knew what they would need to do. She hated this. She hated it because it broke her heart to see this mother watch her baby, and want nothing more then to go to him and be his mother. The birth had been rough. She had lost far too much blood and she knew that her chances were next to zero at this point. She looked up from the mare now, the first time in almost thirty minutes she had taken her eyes off of hers and looked to Les.
"Daddy, I want to talk to you outside for a minute. Les, you want to come over here and try and keep her a bit calm? If she tries to get up, just put your hand right here on the back of her neck and she'll lay back down and call me. Okay?" She managed a smile although she knew her voice was giving her true emotion away. Les looked to the ground and lightly kicked a bit at the hay there as he made his way from the colt to his mother and knelt down. "Alright now girl, you're alright," he said to the horse with a catch in his voice he started to stroke her neck. The mare calmed now at the sound of his voice and Tara and her father made there way outside. Donnie stayed there with Les and finished cleaning up the colt with the hay, rubbing him dry with it.
"What do you think Dad?" Tara asked.
"I think we might need to go on and take care of this pretty quick. I think she's in a bad way and there is no sense in prolonging it."
"Yeah, I agree. God, I hate this. I'm just so tired of all of this sadness everywhere I go. I must be some kind of bad luck or something," Tara said as the tears started to sting her eyes.
"Hey now, this is not your fault Tara. If it hadn't been for you, neither of them would have stood a chance. Now you need to get yourself right and let's go in there and help Les through this. It's going to be hard for him as it is. Now, Tara, I know you know this already, but you have a gift. The same one your mother had. I need you to go on in there now and talk to Tissy. Get this thing a bit calm and let us do what we know needs doing. Okay?"
Tara sighed and looked down. She knew that it was true. She did share this thing with her mother. This ability to communicate so to speak with animals. Horses in particular. She thought, however, it was backward to say the gift was hers. In the real world she knew the gift belonged to this beautiful creature. This was something that was lost to most people because they had blocked it off. She was certain if anyone listened hard enough, you would hear it. She felt to at this point that perhaps she would have a difficult time of this today. Her mind was not as clear and open as it usually was. Her mind was occupied by other thoughts almost continuously as of late. That and those thought were Willow.
She shock it off, closed her eyes, and took in a deep lungful of breath. "I can do this," she said to herself as she followed behind her father, who now carried the case he had retrieved from the locked tool box in the bed of the truck. It was something that was always there just in case. Something he never wanted to use, but knew was necessary to save this poor animal from the suffering she was enduring.
They made their way inside and Tara was immediately shaken by the powerful feeling she got as she entered the barn. The baby. It was something. Something not right with the foal. As it would be for most people, her attention should have been to immediately look to him to see what it was that was being picked up. However, in this circumstance it was to look at the mother.
She was trying to tell Tara something. She approached and knelt down. Placed her hand on her nose and gave a light scratch. "What is it Tissy? What are you trying to say?" She said it silently, to no-one but the mother and as she listened for the response she heard Donnie speak. "Dad, we got us a problem here."
Tara looked up and saw Donnie holding up one foot of the newborn, careful to not let it touch down. "Oh God," she said to herself as she realized what it was. She stayed there with Tissy, sensing she needed her at this point. She looked up too her father as he approached Donnie and the colt, and saw as her father bent down to take a look. "Oh, damn, what the hell is this," he said as he looked at the leg.
Tara looked down at Tissy and she saw the panic in the mother's eyes. She wanted to look away. Couldn't bear to watch this. She desperately wanted to run from this barn and away from these people. This was her fault again. She did this. It had to be her. She was the one who maneuvered this baby and she must have done something wrong when she turned him around in order to allow him to be delivered. No. I won't run. Not again, she spoke to herself. I can't.
"Help him. Help him and he'll help her," she heard this. Clearly. She looked down at Tissy. "What did you say Tissy?" she asked mentally.
"Save him and he'll save her. I promise," the horse communicated back to her. She was in awe at this point. In her life never had she had a whisper so strong and so clear. "I'm out of my mind," she said to herself. She shook her head and looked up again and her attention was again drawn back to Tissy as she heard again the same thing. "He'll save her. And more. Help him. Please."
"Okay, this is, this is just crazy... no, I am not hearing this, I know..." She closed her eyes tight and reopened them and looked into the mother's eyes again.
"Please. Help him. I promise. I promise you he will."
She knew it then. This was not in her head but real. Real and clear and she knew.
"What is it Daddy?" she called out.
"Well baby girl, he's got a twist here in this leg. It's a bad one too. I don't know but I think it's not so good for him Tara. I don't know if it can be fixed, and if it can, a horse this young, can't be good to keep him in a sling. He'll miss out on the critical development stage here. It would be highly unlikely he could ever be healed, let alone sound."
"Unlikely? Yes, unlikely but not impossible right?"
"Well, no, not impossible, but the time and the money in this, on something that's only about a one in a thousand shot. Not really fair to him or Les. Of course that decision is his."
He looked up at Les. Les looked at the ground,again kicking at the hay. "I can't, I don't got the money or the time. You know that with the ranch and the new baby and all. I'm sorry, but its impossible for me," he said as he raised a hand and wiped away a tear that threatened to escape.
"I understand Les. Don't feel bad. I'd make the same decision and I don't have half of what you have there on your plate," Mr.Maclay answered.
Tara was panicking now. She looked down at Tissy, a look of sadness in her own eyes, and as they met, she heard again: "Please."
Without thought or delay, Tara looked up. "I'll take him. I'll try it."
She felt it immediately, the mother that lay there under her gentle and comforting touch, relaxed. Became peaceful and she heard a solitary thought from her. "Thank you."
"Well Willow, tell me how you like the new therapist? She's great isn't she? She will be wonderful for you, I know already." Sheila looked at her daughter quickly and then back to the road. She had said nothing all the way home. Not a word. Not a complaint, bicker or demand came from Willow's mouth. Was this good? She wasn't sure. It wasn't bad. She didn't think so, at least. She was angry now at herself. Here she was, a shrink, yet when it came to her little girl she could not tell you a thing about her mental state. It was frustrating for her. Painful and frustrating. "Well what about we stop and grab some lunch at Brent's?"
Willow turned, looked at her mother and asked: "When did you stop missing dad?'
Shelia pulled into the lot of the deli and looked at Willow in the eyes. She looked down a moment, cleared her throat, and played with the car keys in her hand. "When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is look to his side of the bed and pray that when I open my eyes he's going to be there. I've done this everyday since he's been gone. The difference now is that I can get out of bed and do what needs to be done, knowing that I will survive this day without him. As far as not missing him? I miss him nearly every hour of every day. It's not as hard as it used to be, but it is still something I know I will do for the rest of my life. I'll never stop missing him."
"Well that's just wonderful to know," Willow said under her breath.
"Willow, don't try to make this a similar situation to yours. It's not. Your father, my husband, is dead. Tara is just in a different state. You and I have very different circumstances. You still have a chance. You still have the opportunity to share this life you have with the woman you love. Don't ever forget that. Don't ever let it go."
"Well mom, sorry to break this to you but she is not coming back. She is gone. As far as we are concerned, she is dead. Or I am. It doesn't really matter. The result is the same no matter how you see it," Willow answered with a harsh tone.
"Willow, why do you do this? Open up to me then shut down so fast? I don't want to hurt you honey. I don't want to give you false hope and I would not ever do this. I am saying this because I know it to be true," Shelia said.
"I'm sorry mom. I didn't mean to... I know how much you miss dad. I know how hard it is. I do. It's just, I feel so lost. So alone .I can't help feeling that Tara is better off away from me. From this," she said, tossing the cane forward against the dash. "I don't want her here from guilt. I want her here because she wants to be."
Shelia sighed and said, "Willow, she does. She does want to be here. She just needs time. A chance to let some of this guilt dissipate. In her mind? Honey, she thinks she is responsible."
Willow turned her head to her mother sharply and said, "What?"
"Yes, she thinks it's her fault. She sent you to the store, was angry you were late. This is why she is gone. Not any other reason."
"Did she tell you this? When did she say... Did she?"
"No. She never said it directly to me, but I think she wanted to. I think, honestly? That she was going to tell you and someone else may have intervened. I don't need to say who."
Willow shook her head. "So this is simple a hypothesis on your part then? A read of Tara's mind? Well what am I waiting for. Let's rush home so I can call her."
"Why do you have to be so sarcastic all the time? What's wrong with you? Are you worried that maybe it is really why? And that you may have to get over this self pity kick of yours? Or are you scared? Afraid to keep her down because of the accident? Whatever it is, you need to get over it. Or you will never get better. Now I don't know about you, but I'm hungry. I want some food. Do you want to join me or do you want me to get something to go?" Shelia said glancing at the door of the restaurant. As usual, it was very busy. It would be hard for Willow to stand this long even with her help. She would need the chair. She was certain Willow would opt for to go.
"Yeah, just get me turkey on rye. And some potato salad. Please," Willow added as an afterthought.
"Okay. I'll be right back then."
Willow watched as her mother went inside and once she saw her there she opened the door and got out of the car. Her destination? Trips Liquor barn. She headed that way, it was not a far distance from where she had parked. "Turkey on rye and a fifth of Jack. This is a real lunch," she thought to herself as she went inside.
She picked up the bottle and made her way to the counter. There was a young man in front of her and she waited not so patiently as the clerk rang him up.
She was glancing out the store window to the car, watching to make sure that her mother did not get out of the deli before her. If she saw her, she knew she would have to ditch this plan, leave the store and use the bathroom excuse.
The thought crossed her mind then that perhaps this was of issue, sneaking actions in order to drink screamed problem drinker at her but she chose to ignore this. She had that thought cleared away from her mind as she heard the clerk ask for ID.
Crap. In the car. She had left it in the car. She would not have time to go back, get ID and come back in time. She would be caught for sure. She looked at the man in front of her and knew that she was sure to carded. He looked, she thought, at least five years older then herself and she knew for certain she was not going to get this bottle.
She sighed in defeat, turned and made her way back to return the bottle to the shelf. Damn it. She needed this drink and she knew Susan would not be back for at least four more hours and this was far to long to go without.
Looking around she leaned against the shelf, untwisted the cap and took a hearty swig from the bottle. It burned her throat as it made its way down and the sensation delighted her. She felt the warm feeling spread through her body and she closed her eyes as she waited for the initial effect.
She looked again around and saw no one. Again she lifted the bottle and took an even larger swallow.
She twisted the cap back on and suddenly the thought crossed her mind that she could just slip this bottle into her jacket sleeve and walk out the door. She would tell the clerk as she left that she had forgotten her ID and would be back in just a minute. Looking around yet again, she slid the bottle up her arm and bent it as she grasped the cane.
She looked at the sleeve and was satisfied that this camouflage would work just fine.She made her way to the exit,said to the girl that she would return ,and made her way out the door.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP... "You have set off the store's security system. Please return to the counter and pay for all items before exiting," screamed the door.
"Oh Fuck... I Don't believe this," she said to herself as she realized she had just been busted. Shop lifting... liquor...
It took only moments for the drugs to do its job. Tissy closed her eyes and peacefully passed away. Tears filled all eyes as Les sat with his beloved horse, her head in his lap, he stroking her neck and nose as he felt the final breath leave her lungs.
"I'm awful sorry about this Les. I know it's not much help to you but I really am," Mr.Maclay said to his long time friend.
"It's alright, you all did the best you could for her. I know."
After a few moments, Tara made her way over to the colt, knelt down, and began to wrap the bad foot. It was the left front foot and she knew that this was a difficult injury to hope for success. She also knew that he would recover. She knew this. At least she wanted to beleive. She still had a bit of doubt, but her positive thinking was far stronger then this due to the clear messages she had picked up from his Mama.
"What are ya going to name him?" Donnie asked.
Tara looked up, smiled at the colt and said, "Officer."