Fighting for the Finish

It was happening again. This time it came in the form of a frantic bee buzzing around me searching for a weakness. I swung my arms like a world class baseball player trying to bat it away. It landed under my arm pit and planted its stinger in my body. As it tore away, reeling in death, I knew that it was a launch from the devil himself. Angrily pulsating, a red swollen welt formed and the pain vibrated and throbbed through my body. It was just one more sign that made me feel that “something” hated me here.

 

This home, a term I use loosely because it is actually a mansion of over six- thousand square feet stands on over eighty acres of prime real estate. Though it is gorgeous now, it laid in disrepair for many decades before it was bought by my friend, Beth, and her family.

 

As a single woman, I was often asked by my friends to stay at their homes while they enjoyed their vacations. This would be a vacation for me too. A pool, horse farm, and a gorgeous house to lounge in was an escape that I could relish.   Leaping at the opportunity, I delighted over staying in this mansion and taking care of the many horses in her barn.

 

This mini vacation for me at Beth’s mansion would be unlike any other experience I have ever had or ever will have. It was here that I embarked on a glorious path of self-discovery that transformed my life.

 

Though it was only six in the morning, I was already exhausted. I was no longer sleeping in Beth’s home at night because admittedly I was too scared of something that I could not name or understand. There was something palpable there and its presence frightened me.

 

The sun shone brightly as I drove from my home in Delaware to this beautiful quaint town in southern New Jersey. I found myself reflecting on all that had happened to me at this home over the past five days. As each mile drew me closer, a feeling of dread would creep deeper and deeper into my mind and heart. Tiny pin pricks of fear danced and clamored up my back and onto my neck breaking into a crescendo at the crown of my head. Admittedly, I was scared of this beautiful mansion and what was there.

 

While Beth was gone my responsibilities were to feed the horses, teach riding lessons, clean the barn, and take care of this beautiful home. My heart was torn; I could not stay at her home at night. Fearful of ruining Beth’s vacation, I decided to compromise and spend the nights at my own home in Delaware.

 

This morning, I drove directly to the barn, on a separate driveway from the house. It winds through a deep forest across a small bridge and over a babbling brook. The barn and indoor, covered arena that allows riders to exercise no matter the weather, sit upon a hill, and today they sat glistening in the sunlight like a diamond.

 

This horse farm is unlike many farms in the area. There are several riding rings, an indoor riding arena, outdoor cross-country course, and a stadium jumping arena. The heated barn comes complete with a vacuum to groom the horses, and it also boasts of a wash stall with hot and cold water to ensure that each horse gets a royal bath. The tack room is heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer. Comfortable over-stuffed couches and chairs adorn the tack room too. Riders would gather and share stories about their horses, and a crowd of boarders and lesson students would be found relaxing in this room.

 

It is here that I teach riding lessons, and it is a position that I hold with great regard as Beth entrusted me to start her horseback riding program at her beautiful and grandiose farm. I am proud to be a part of this beautiful farm with its many amenities for the horses as well as the riders.

 

As I walked into the barn, the horses whinnied in excitement for their feed. I usually call to them by name, but after my run-in with the bee, I was frankly in no mood to be cheery. I went into the feed room and turned on the lights. They flickered on and off, something they have never done before, and it was a further aggravation. Frustrated and irritated, I found myself getting impatient. This was another indication that there was something here and it had chosen to harass and hound my every step.

 

Hearing the sound of tires on the gravel road to the barn, I glanced out the window to see my friend, Sharon, driving up to the barn. I greeted her at the door.   I pointed to the now red lump that had grown to the size of a golf-ball under my arm and told her that I was attacked this morning. As if in perfect synchronicity with this account, the lights flickered and sputtered allowing us to know that we were not alone. We both involuntarily shuddered. We fought the sensation to flee, and because we were nervous, we both started to laugh. She is the only one to whom I have shared what has happened at the house and the barn. I feared that if I shared this with any of my other friends or boyfriend, they would think I have gone insane. Sharon is a friend who I trust; she is a born-again Christian and believes in the existence of supernatural happenings.

 

Upon hearing our laughter, the horses understood that their food would be coming soon, and their neighs and whinnies swelled to a cacophony of noise. As if snapped into our primary purpose at that moment, we looked at each other and began preparing their feed and hay. We each loaded up a cart, complete with each horse’s feed, supplements, and hay. She took one end of the barn, and I took the other. Within a few minutes, the horses were happily slurping and chomping on their feed. Sharon has involuntarily become a horse woman, and I appreciated her willingness to help me. Their halter rings clanged in time with their greedy mouths, and this made a harmonious song that I would never tire of hearing.

 

While the horses ate, we decided to eat our breakfast too. We walked into the feed room, she pulled up a stool, and I grabbed the empty feed barrel. Sharon began laying out an elaborate breakfast, and I admired her ability to always be so giving and thoughtful. She knew that I probably had not eaten breakfast, and she had made the time to stop on her way to the barn to get us breakfast. Sharon had brought freshly baked croissants with fresh strawberry jam and small Styrofoam cups of black steaming coffee. This simple breakfast was delicious.

 

As I started to pick up another croissant, the phone rang. It echoed throughout the barn, interrupting the melodious sounds of content horses eating their breakfast. I rocketed off of the barrel and ran to the other end of the barn to the office. I pulled the door but realized that it was locked. I grabbed the key above the door jam and hastily unlocked the door. Practically leaping across the desk, I grabbed the phone. I held it to my ear and began to speak when I heard the dial tone on the other end. Thinking it strange that the dial tone was all that I heard, I ran to the feed room, where Sharon was cleaning up the remains of our breakfast and feeding the barn cats.

 

“Sharon,” I said, “it was weird. As soon as I picked up the phone, all I heard was a dial tone. You know that “nnnnnnnnnnnnn” sound?” I tried mimicking the empty dial tone.

Read more tomorrow………………………………..

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