BACK IN THE SADDLE
Kate woke up early the next day. She took a shower, washed her black hair and went downstairs to have some breakfast. What a lovely day, she thought to herself when she came outside and sat at one of the tables. It was around 8 AM and only some old people were sitting on the benches by the fountain and feeding the pigeons.
Kate finished her cornflakes and went inside to wash the plate. As nobody was there yet, she picked a book from the bookcase in her room, went back downstairs and started reading.
The moment she turned the first page, her cellphone rang. It was Mrs. Rasi.
“Good morning, dear,” said Mrs. Rasi with audible weakness in her voice.
“Good morning, Mrs. Rasi. You sound strange, is everything okay?” worried Kate.
“Yes, yes… Uhm… I am just not feeling very well, but it is nothing serious. Uhm… Don’t worry about it. Did you sleep well?“
“Yes, I did. Thank you for asking.“
“I wanted to call you to tell you that today… uhm… uhm… I will be a little late.”
“Mrs. Rasi, I think you should go to the doctor. I will do everything. Just tell me what needs to be done.“
“No, dear, no… It will pass… uhm… Luis should arrive around 10 AM and he should also bring some wine for Saturday… uhm… so if you would be so nice and helped him to store the wine in the cellar please…“
“Yes, of course, Mrs. Rasi, I will help him.”
“When you are done with that, think about the decorations. Do you have something on mind?“
“Actually, I haven’t been thinking about it yet.“
“Well, you should start thinking then. The time is running short and I am afraid I will not be able to help you with it…. uhm… I believe you will manage, Kate. I trust you. If there is anything you need, talk to Luis. He will take care of it.“
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Rasi. I promised I would help, so just leave it on me.“
“Did you call Mr. O’Connor?“
“Yes, I did. He will lend me one of his horses for the competition!”
“I’m glad to hear that, dear.”
“Thank you for helping me out. Again.“
“Very well then. I will pass at the restaurant later to see if you have done some progress.“
“See you later, dear. Have a nice day!“
“Thank you and please, go to the doctor, Mrs. Rasi. I am worried about you.”
“There is nothing to worry about, dear,” assured her Mrs. Rasi and hung up.
Kate picked the book from the table and continued reading from where she left before…
Kate really got drawn into the story, because she didn’t even notice that Luis has arrived to the restaurant. Only when he called “Hello Kate! How are you today?” Kate raised her eyes from the book, smiled at him and went to help him with the boxes of wine.
“Mrs. Rasi called me earlier today and asked me if I could organize everything for Saturday,” she told Luis when they were going down the stairs leading to the cellar.
“Oh, yes. I know, she told me so,” said Luis while he searched for the key in his pocket. Once the cellar door was unlocked, they walked in, put the boxes of wine on a shelf by the door and went back to the restaurant. “Is there anything I can help you with?” Luis asked Kate on the way up from the cellar.
“I was thinking, that we could get some decorative lights and hang them on the walls, then some fresh flowers to put on each table, some candles… maybe even balloons… What do you think?” asked him Kate.
“That sounds fine enough to me,” agreed Luis.
“I only don’t know where to buy everything. I saw a stand that sells fresh flowers near the public library, but we can get those at the end. I would start with the lights, because it will take us a while to put them all around. Do you have any idea, where we could get some?” asked Kate.
“Maybe I know. I will go to buy them right away!“
“If you could get also the rest, it would be perfect. I would like to manage to do everything today, so I have more time to prepare for the competition,” told him Kate.
“Ah, I see. So you have convinced old George to let you ride one of his horses?“
“Yes, he is a very nice person. He even believes that I could win!” said Kate with happiness in her voice.
“Well, if George thinks so, then it must be true,” smiled Luis.
“You think?” asked curiously Kate.
“Yeah. Anytime he thinks something, it happens. Once, when we were younger and we used to go out almost every night – we also used to drink a lot – he told me that he thinks I will fall in the fountain if I continue walking on its border with closed eyes. As you may imagine, I did really fall inside, but it might have also happened that I would just fall down on the path, but I fell in the water… So you see, when George thinks something, it is very likely that it will happen,” he laughed.
“That is funny!” laughed Kate.
“Well, I will be going then,” said Luis and went shopping for the decorations.
“See you later, Luis!” Kate called after him, picked the book and started reading again.
Kate hasn’t finished reading neither the tenth page and Luis was already back. He managed to buy everything Kate asked for.
“Hey Kate!” Luis called from the door. “Look what I have here! Come to give a look.”
“Perfect! You found everything we need! Thanks!” said happily Kate when she looked inside the bags.
“I have to go and pick up Lia… We’ll have something to eat at home and then we will come back here. Also you eat something, take anything you want,” said Luis and left.
Kate opened the fridge that was full of fresh vegetables. She decided to prepare the Autumn salad for the lunch. She didn’t really feel hungry, so any light meal on this hot summer day was just fine for her. When she was done eating, Kate went back in the cellar to search for some tools to hang the lights on the wall. One hour passed from the moment when Luis left the restaurant, but nobody was coming back. Kate picked the hammer and some nails and started placing the decorative lights on the walls. To her surprise, it did not take her as much time as she initially thought it would. She picked the candles and placed them on each table. When she was done also with that and Lia with Luis still haven’t arrived, Kate decided to go and give a look at some flowers at the flower stand by the public library. The gardener suggested her the carnation, because it remains beautiful even for ten days. Kate really liked that, because this way she could finish everything today and gain herself more time to prepare for the race. Kate came back, placed the flowers in the prepared vases and when she was arranging the last flower, Lia and Luis arrived at the restaurant.
“Hello!” Kate called at the couple when she saw them enter the pizzeria.
“What a nice smell!” Lia smiled radiantly at Kate.
“Yes, I know! And they remain fresh for ten days!”
“Really?” asked her Lia.
“The gardener told me so,” said happily Kate.
“I see you work really fast,” said Luis as he looked around himself. “I leave you alone for a while and when I come back everything is already done!” he continued.
“We definitely need more people like you in here,” smiled Lia. “You have done a perfect job, dear. I wouldn’t have done it better myself! Thank you.”
“Do you feel better, Mrs. Rasi?” asked her Kate.
“Yes, dear. I do. Thank you for asking,” answered Lia. “It was only a morning cold, because I have left the window opened during the night. I didn’t expect it would get so chilly,” she added.
“It’s nice to hear that you feel better,” said Kate to her.
“Well, I think that Kate earned herself a free afternoon. What do you say, darling?” Luis asked his girlfriend.
“I think she did,” Lia agreed. “You can go and practice for the big day, dear,” she continued and smiled at Kate.
“Thank you so much!” beamed Kate and hurried to the room to change her clothes.
“Oh no, we thank you!” said Lia and Luis with one voice as they watched her run up the stairs.
Kate was feeling really happy. She put on her old riding pants and boots that she has brought with her from Appaloosa Plains in case she bought a horse one day. Kate completed her outfit with a white shirt which she tied under her breasts, so she would not feel the heat so much. From her former experience, Kate learned that light colored clothes are better than the classic black riding jacket she wore once for a parade back in her old hometown. She felt really uncomfortable that time and promised to herself that she wouldn’t ever put it back on. Kate went downstairs, said goodbye to Luis and Lia and headed out to meet with George.
Today, Kate did not follow the same path as the last time. She discovered a shortcut when she was coming back from George’s house yesterday in the evening. In less than twenty minutes she was already ringing the bell at George’s door.
“Hello Kate! How are you today?”
“Hello George, I am fine. Thanks. What about you?”
“I did not sleep well tonight… My back hurts,” complained George.
“I am sorry for you. Also Mrs. Rasi did not feel well today… but now she’s feeling better.”
“Poor Lia. It must be the change of the temperatures. During the day it is so hot that one would die and at night the air suddenly gets so cold…”
“That’s probably it,” agreed Kate. “So I guess if you are not feeling well we are not going for a ride today, are we?” asked him Kate.
“No, Kate. You are. I am just not going with you this time,” told her George.
“Are you really letting me go alone?”
“Why wouldn’t I. In fact, you must go. You have a lot of work to do… We can go for a ride together once you have won the race,” George winked at her.
“I wish you were right,” Kate said with hope in her voice.
“I am not feeling well outside, it’s a very hot day today. I think I will go to watch the television… Will you manage to do everything by yourself?”
“Yes, I will. Don’t worry about me, George,” assured him Kate.
“Good! Oh, just one thing. Go to the new horse ranch. I know it isn’t officially opened, but it was finished already weeks ago. My friend is the owner and I asked him if you could train there. If someone asks, tell them you are my friend,” told her George.
“Thank you so much, George!”
“No problem, Kate,” said George. For you, I would do anything, he thought to himself as he walked in the house. “Oh, and take Bella! She seemed to like you yesterday!” he called from the window.
Kate went to say hello to Bella. She brought a carrot to her from the restaurant, because all the horses she knew loved carrots. And also did Bella.
This is such a beautiful feeling to be back in the saddle, Kate thought to herself and headed towards the ranch.
When she arrived at the horse ranch she didn’t see anybody. Since there was no need to ask for permission, Kate entered the training grounds and began Bella’s preparation for the big day.
Kate stayed there until the sun set and when she returned Bella to George she already felt exhausted, but she still had to get back to the restaurant…