BAMBI’S OLD FRIEND
Not long after Kate’s birthday, Orion started getting weaker by day. He was already old and the fire didn’t make his condition any better. Kate loved all her horses very much. That day, when Bella passed away, the Loewe’s were visiting the O’Connors in Hidden Springs. Kate could never forgive herself that she wasn’t there for Bella on her last day and now, when the same could happen to Orion, Kate started feeling helpless. She realized she wasn’t ready to see him pass away. She would probably never be ready…
Kate remembered about her old friend Bill Wilson. His parents had a ranch in Appaloosa Plains where she used to ride their horses. Bill and Kate were best friends at high school, but many years have passed since that time. Although the last time they’ve seen each other was nearly 30 years ago, Kate was certain Bill would help her out. She had problems getting in touch with him – only thing she got to know was that he sold the ranch and moved to Moonlight Falls. Kate knew if she traveled there, she’d find him.
She asked Elisabeth if she wanted to come with her to Moonlight Falls and Elisabeth happily agreed. They organized a transfer for Orion since they’ve decided to travel by train. Kate, Elisabeth and Orion arrived to Moonlight Falls the following morning and directly headed towards the town hall.
Kate got to know that Bill lived close to the graveyard and that he was running a horse retirement ranch.
“Mom? You told me you knew where we were going, but you… didn’t know?!” asked her Elisabeth when they left the town hall.
“No. I didn’t,” Kate smiled innocently.
“So we could have come here and never find this Bill?”
“Well, I somehow knew we’d find him.”
“Mom! How can you be so irresponsible! Orion hardly survived the trip and you brought him all the way here without being sure! I cannot believe this!” screamed Elisabeth at her mother.
“Come on, let’s find the ranch,” prompted Kate.
Elisabeth just shook her head, took Orion’s bridle and followed her mother. After less than 10 minutes they arrived to Bill’s Horse Retirement Ranch.
“See? No problem! We found it!” said happily Kate when she read the sign.
Bill was sitting at the porch reading the newspaper.
“Hello? Are you Bill? Bill Wilson?”
“Bambi,” Kate looked at him with sparkle in her eyes.
Bambi? Seriously? Elisabeth thought to herself.
“Kate? Is it… is it you? This cannot be…”
“Yes, Billy, it’s me!”
“My goodness! Kate!” Bill called from the porch and hurried to welcome his old friend. “I thought I would never see you again! What… What brings you to my house?”
“This is your horse?” Bill asked surprisingly and looked at Orion.
“Yes,” nodded Kate.
“Wow, Kate. You must tell me everything! I’ve always known you loved horses… but… you said… you didn’t want one of your own.”
“I know… many things have changed since I left, Bill… I’m sorry I’ve never called you…”
“No no… I’m sorry I’ve never called YOU! I was a fool!”
“This is my daughter Elisabeth,” Kate suddenly changed argument.
“Hi, nice to meet you, Bill.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Elisabeth. Have your mother ever told you that she looked exactly like you? I mean…. once.”
“Well -, ” said Kate, but Bill interrupted her.
“She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known.”
“Come on, Billy,” Kate started blushing.
“True words, Kate. True words… So, what is it that brings you to my house?”
“Orion. My horse,” repeated Kate.
“Oh, of course…, the horse…”
“I want to ask you a big favor, Bill. Orion is old and his health is weak. I don’t know how long he’s going to live… and… and…”
“I understand, Kate. It’s very hard to see them die.”
“If you’re really sure about this, it will be my pleasure to take care of Orion for the rest of his days.”
“Thank you so much, Bill.”
“No need to thank me, Kate,” he smiled at her and gave a carrot to Orion. “Good boy, good boy.”
“Are these horses yours, Bill?” asked him Kate as they walked towards the stables.
“Yes. They are the only ones left,” sighed Bill. “Charlie and Misty. You can’t remember them.”
“Well, I guess not,” said Kate and suddenly felt guilty. Who knows what would have happened if she stayed in Appaloosa Plains? Would she marry Bill Wilson? He was her best friend and she was his… until the day she left. And what now? Has she remembered about him after all these years because she actually wanted to see him? No. She needed him. I should be ashamed, Kate thought to herself when she turned around and saw her friend leading her horse. Is he living here all alone? Why did he leave? What brought him here? Too many questions… I should stop thinking about the past. It’s gone. I can’t take it back.
“Mr. Wilson?” Elisabeth suddenly stopped and turned around to speak to Bill. “Why did you move to Moonlight Falls?”
“It’s a long story, Elisabeth. Maybe one day I’ll tell you.”
“Did you move away because of my mother?”
“I see you’re a curious girl,” he smiled.
“Well… It is still a long story.”
“Pleeease,” begged Elisabeth.
“Long story indeed.”
“I really can’t convince you, can I?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Can you at least promise me you will tell me one day?”
“I think I might.”
“Great.” Elisabeth smiled at him. “You know, Mr. Wilson, I’m really glad I met you,” she added hoping she’d learn more about her mother’s past since Kate never really spoke about it.
“Don’t worry, Orion. I’ll come to visit sometime,” said Elisabeth to the horse as she caressed him.
“Would you like to have a cup of tea with me?” Bill asked Kate.
“I don’t know, Bill… We wanted to visit the arboretum.”
“I’ll not keep you for long… but if you don’t want to, well, I’m not going to force you,” he smiled at her.
“OK then,” agreed Kate and together with Elisabeth followed Bill inside.
“So, I guess you found what you searched for… in Monte Vista,” said Bill and sipped from the cup.
“Yes. I… I did,” Kate smiled at him politely, but inside she was suffering. What have I done.
“Do you have any brothers or sisters, Elisabeth?”
“Yep. Two brothers. They’re twins.”
“Do you remember the Blackwood boys?” Kate asked him suddenly.
“Blackwood boys?” Bill repeated after her.
So, that’s their real surname, Elisabeth thought to herself.
“The twins from the orphanage,” continued Kate.
“Oh, yes, yes… of course.”
“After Mary Graham passed away, I got a call from the hospital where she died. Her last wish was that I took care of them… Well… So I did,” Kate tried to sound happy, but the more she spoke about the past, the more she was becoming sad.
“Wow, Kate. I had no idea. You’re such a good person!”
When Bill said the last two words, Kate’s eyes flooded with tears. She quickly stood up and ran to the bathroom.
“Did I say something wrong?” Bill asked Elisabeth.
“Nah. I think she’s just too sensitive. You know, she’ll probably never see Orion again,” Elisabeth concluded her mother’s reaction and finished her tea. “Thanks for the tea, Bill. I’ll go to say goodbye to Orion,” she said and walked out of the door. Bill remained alone in the living room drinking his cup of tea.
Kate was standing in front of the mirror looking at her reflection. She remembered the night when she met David. She was so young and beautiful and… blind. She didn’t see what Billy saw. The day she left for Monte Vista, Bill promised to come to say goodbye, but he hasn’t showed up. It was all clear now, it was finally clear to Kate what Billy wanted. Your mother was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known, Elisabeth… I thought I’d never see you again, Kate. I was a fool.
I’m so sorry, Billy… Kate said to herself and started crying like a little girl.
“Kate? Are you alright? You know… if you want I… uh… I’ll be informing you about Orion every week… so… uh… you don’t have to be worried. Are you coming out?”
Kate wiped her tears and opened the door of the bathroom. She found her old friend standing right in front of her.
“I’m so sorry I left you, Bill.”
“It’s okay, Kate. It doesn’t matter anymore. Come, your daughter is waiting outside.”
“Wait…,” she said and took his hand. “It does matter to me. I would like to sincerely apologize for leaving you behind and never calling you. I was stupid back then. Can you… could you forgive me, please?”
“I forgive you, Bambi.”
“Yeah! Why wouldn’t I!”
“Well… thank you.”
“I’m happy you remembered about me and who knows, maybe next time one of us will be smarter,” Bill smiled at her.
“Will we have to wait another 30 years?” asked him Kate.
Bill looked in her eyes and said “Maybe.”
“Or maybe not,” answered Kate, pulled him towards her and kissed him.
Bill absolutely didn’t expect that, but he didn’t mind either…
“I wish I could take back the time, Bambi. I’ve always dreamed about you and me…”
“It’s too late, Billy…”
“I will never forget our first kiss.”
“Neither will I,” she said as she looked in his eyes.
“Do you really have to leave?” asked her desperately Bill.
“I do. It was very nice to see you, Billy. Take care of yourself, my old friend.”
“Good bye, Bambi,” said Bill and watched Kate leave his little house knowing she’ll probably never come back. If only I could take back the time…
The moon was already high in the sky when Kate and Elisabeth reached the Arboretum.
“Wow! I’ve never seen such a wonderful garden. It’s so magical!” Elisabeth felt amazed.
“Maybe we’ll find some fairies,” Kate blinked eye at her daughter.
“Do you think they really exist?”
“Come on, Liz. Everybody knows they are fairy-tale characters.”
“Maybe they are only too tiny to be seen,” wondered Elisabeth and entered inside.
“Maybe,” said Kate and followed her.
Inside the arboretum, they saw many kinds of plants, even those they never knew existed. However there was no sign of fairies.
“Mom, I swear I saw a little blue fairy! She was sitting on a leaf and singing!”
Who knows what kind of plants grow in there, Kate thought to herself. “I think we should rather head towards the station,” she suggested. As soon as they left the arboretum, it started raining.
“What do you think is the closest way to the station?” Elisabeth asked her mother.
“I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter anyway. We’re soaked already.”
“Let’s take the same way as before. At least we won’t get lost.”
“Good idea,” agreed Kate and they headed towards the town hall.
“Look, Mom! There’s a toddler splashing in the puddle!”
“Hello, little girl. Where are your parents?” Kate asked the toddler, but as she expected, she didn’t get any answer. The girl just picked her nose instead.
“Well, maybe we should call the police,” suggested Elisabeth.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” said Kate and picked the toddler.
“Mom! Someone could think we’re kidnapping her! The old people are always watching!”
“Elisabeth, it’s dark, it’s raining and there is no sign of her parents. We’re trying to save this poor thing.”
“Yeah, but still, someone could see us!”
“Don’t be silly, Lizzie. Maybe her parents just forgot about her. I bet she lives in this house.”
“How can someone possibly forget about a baby?”
“Well, I don’t understand that either… Anyway, there’s a storm approaching, we better find her parents.”
Elisabeth ran to ring the bell of the house with Kate and the toddler following behind.
“The lights are on, but nobody opens the door.”
“Try once more,” prompted Kate.
After a moment, the door opened.
“Chloé!” exclaimed a young man.
“Is this your child?” asked him Kate.
“Yes! Has your mother forgotten about you again, sweetie?” the man asked his daughter as Kate handed her over to him.
“Don’t you think it’s dangerous leaving her outside at this hour, in this weather? You can be happy she’s all right!” scolded him Kate.
“She’ll probably get a cold, because she was playing in the rain for quite some time,” added Elisabeth.
“Thank you so much for bringing her home. She’s a curious one,” he smiled and kissed Chloé on the forehead.
“You better keep an eye on this little adventurer then,” told him Kate.
“I am, I really am, but you know how they are. Thank you again, ladies. Say bye, Chloé,” he took Chloé’s hand and together they waved good-bye.
“Bye bye,” said Kate and walked down the stairs.
“Hey,” he called at Elisabeth. “I don’t even know my daughter’s savior’s name.”
“It’s Elisabeth,” she smiled at him.
“I’m Benjamin. It was nice to meet you, Elisabeth,” he said and watched her disappear in the night.
“Ew, Chloé, you little stinky!”
“Bailey, be happy she’s all right. You let her playing outside again?! How many times do I have to tell you.”
“How many times a day does she have to poop?!”
“Bailey, please! She’s a toddler, it’s normal! If you hate it so much, I can do it myself.”
“Give her to me,” Bailey said sharply, took Chloé from Benjamin and went to clean her.
Benjamin used the situation and quickly ran outside hoping to find Elisabeth. “Elisabeth! Wait!”
Elisabeth turned around and found him standing in front of her.
“You already thanked us.”
“I know… It’s uh… I would like to send you a thank you gift.”
“Yea. A thank you gift for saving my daughter from inevitable danger.”
“Listen, it’s OK. You don’t have to send anything. Really,” she smiled. “I have to go, we’ll miss the train.”
“Bye, Benjamin. I’m late.”
No, Elisabeth, I’m late, he thought to himself. “Can I give you my number? Please?”
“So you can call me… maybe?”
Elisabeth understood what was going on. Although he was older than her and already had a child, Benjamin was still a handsome young man. She knew she’d regret not getting his number. She was actually lucky he ran out of the house, in the rain, just to give her his number.
“Sure,” she smiled. Benjamin dictated his phone number to her.
“Well, thank you. Now I seriously have to go. Bye Benjamin!”
“Bye…,” he whispered and stood in the rain until she disappeared from the horizon. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one watching.
When he walked back home, he found Bailey’s father blocking the door of the house.
“You’re not going any further, young man.”
“What’s the matter, Chester?”
“Don’t you think that I should be asking you that question, Benjamin?”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: THIS EPISODE FEATURES BABY #3 FROM JILL’s 100 BABY CHALLENGE
IF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH LILY PARKER’S AWESOME BLOG, THEN YOU KNOW THAT BENJAMIN’S STORY LEFT OFF WITH BAILEY SWAIN AS HIS GIRLFRIEND. WHAT HAPPENED THEN WAS IN EVERYBODY’S IMAGINATION SINCE THERE WERE NO MORE UPDATES ABOUT HIS LIFE…
ALTHOUGH JILL WISHED FOR HER BABY BOY TO BE HAPPY, I SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY – I NEED TO GET RID OF THIS BAILEY GIRL! I WONDER IF LILY APPROVES… (SILENTLY HOPING SHE DOES).
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE FOR BENJAMIN, BAILEY AND THEIR LITTLE DAUGHTER,