Lightning flashed. Rumbling thunder roared down Yellow Creek holler. Becca Tripp stepped to the backdoor and grabbed her raingear. She glanced up at the flickering ceiling light, sucked in a deep breath and listened to the blustery weather thrash against the side of the house. She frowned and glanced down at Maxine. Her Britney Spaniel’s round eyes looked up at her pleadingly. “I suppose you want to stay indoors.” Becca put her hand on her hip and shook her head. “Really? You want me to get drenched by myself?” She grinned, slipped her arms into the raincoat sleeves and glanced into the mirror on the wall next to the door.
Staring at her reflection, she shook her head and watched the shine reflect off the bright redness of her straight strands. It had been a while since she had taken time to spoil herself. Her hair was beautiful and spending the day at the spa was a treat, a very much overdue relaxing treat. Omar trimmed her hair and took his time to blow dry all the curls out until a long streamline of feminine red hair dropped down her back without a curve or a kink.
Thunder pounded above the house again. Her gaze flew to the door window. Lightning brighten up the dark sky revealing heavy raindrops. Instantly, another angry outburst of thunder rumbled its way toward the south. She shivered and glanced back into the mirror.
With a disgusted frown, she ran her fingers through the long straight silky strands. She loved it, even if it did cost her seventy-five bucks, but the second she took a step outside in this miserable weather, a kinky curly mess would form over her entire head. Huh, well, nice while it lasted. Shit, natural curly hair was a curse at times.
Her gazed swung down to her protruding abdomen. In a little over a month, she’d be a single mom and counting every penny. “Well, baby girl, today was your mom’s last frivolous, selfish spending act. No more spa visits or straight hair.”
The bright lightning flashed again and thunder crackled over the house. Becca glanced down at Maxine. “Hmm, okay girl, you stay, I’ll get drenched. Little does Josie know what she’s costing me?” After another quick glance at her straight strands of hair, she mumbled, “Okay, here goes.”
With a quick jerk, she pulled the raincoat hood over her head, grabbed a flashlight, stepped out the back door, down the porch steps, and into the pouring rain. In her high top rubber boots, she sloshed through the puddles, heading across the road and up the trail toward the barn.
Becca held the flashlight down to shine on the saturated muddy road leading to the stables toward her beloved Tennessee Walking horse. She loved spring thunderstorms, even if they did kink up her hair. Glancing up, she blinked away the heavy raindrops spattering on her eyelids and squinted into the wind blowing against her. The menacing large cumulonimbus formation warned her of the severity of the storm. It wasn’t even five o’clock yet and the darkened sky made it seem like late evening. Purposefully, she splashed her rubber boots in the growing puddles. Lightning discharged, crawling across the sky. She counted one one thousand, two one thousand, three one…boom, the storm clouds released another angry outburst. Good, the storm’s moved a good half a mile away. I’m glad…not too fond of lightning.
A horse neighed.
Her hurried glance swung out into the field beyond the fence line. She frowned and squinted into the heavy downpour, stopped near the fence, and searched the saturated field. Josie wouldn’t have left the barn. She didn’t like thunder.
There it was again. A horse neighed as if saying, “Over here, where are you?” She was sure of it.
In the seconds the bright blue blaze lit up the sky her breath hitched at the sight before her. Through the pouring rain, a horse ran at full gallop. Another sheet lightning covered the sky above to reveal the large muscular body of a beautiful horse moving at a high-speed. His long stride stretched reaching out toward her. Becca wiped the raindrops from her eyelashes and stared. The flash above shimmered on his black coat and the white marking on his face bobbed with each galloping movement. And then, he stumbled, caught himself, stumbled again, but managed to continue in her direction.
Becca climbed upon the bottom fence rail. He was hurt. The animal lurched forward and went down. He didn’t move. How did an injured horse get inside her field and where did he come from? Without any thought of how pregnant she was, she climbed up and over the fence and on a fast run headed toward the horse through the soggy wet field. A gust of wind blew the hood from her head soaking her hair. She stopped.
Where did he go? Her wet hand held out the flashlight and searched the ground. Once again a sheet of lightning turned the sky from night to day. Nothing. Standing beneath the thunderclouds, she dropped to her knees and gazed beyond the field in the dark. Distant thunder roared beyond the rolling hills, moving on with the heavy rains and wind. The storm had settled down to a steady drizzle, though it had already drenched her entire body. Raising her hand, she wiped her face and eyelashes to scan the field again. Did she imagine the incident? It was too surreal, and yet, she was almost positive he’d been real. Why in this world did she have a vision of such a beautiful animal galloping toward her like his life depended upon reaching her? What did it mean?
Becca pushed to her feet and strolled through the field toward the backdoor of the barn while scanning the area toward the woods. He stumbled and fell. She watched him. So where did he go? Biting her bottom lip, Becca made her way to the barn door and slipped inside. Flipping the light switch, she found Josie staring at her through large black eyes. Becca wiped away a tear rolling down her wet cheek. She reached out, stepped close and touched her mare’s velvet nose. Her beautiful golden Tennessee Walking horse with her long thick flaxen mane and tail stared back. “I know. I’m late. Sorry girl. You okay? Storm’s over. Thunder’s moved on down the way, just rain now.” Becca’s lips thinned into a sad smile when Josie bumped her hand impatiently. “I know. You hate storms.”
She glanced over her shoulder and frowned. She turned to give Josie a quick pat on her smooth neck before reaching for the feed bag. “I’ll get you some grain. Maybe it’ll help calm your nerves.” What just happened out there? While chewing on her bottom lip, her puckered brow pulled tighter with thoughts of what she’d just witnessed. You’re crazy, woman. A small laugh escaped her throat. Dismissing the vision, she poured the grain into Josie’s bag then dropped the strap over her neck to watch her eat.
With a step back, she crossed her shivering arms over her belly and glanced down. She was soaking wet. Mud covered her boots and pants from kneeling in the field. Slipping out of her raincoat, she shook the wetness off, and then picked up Josie’s brush. Slowly brushing along the mare’s back, she listened to the pitter-patter of rain on the barn’s tin roof. “At least the downpour is just a slight drizzle now, girl.” She shook her head. “Josie, the weirdest thing just happened. A beautiful horse came at me in the field, then disappeared. There can be only one explanation–my active imagination along with all the lightning and thunder. Weird.”
After giving Josie a quick brush down to help calm her nerves, Becca slipped back into her raincoat and gave her horse a hug. “Nite Josie, see you in the morning…bright and early. Clip and I are taking a ride to Montgomery to watch the Tennessee Walking Horse event.” Josie’s gentle gaze stared back, her ears up perked listening to every word Becca said. “I’m thinking you might enjoy entering the event. What do you say?”
A soft nicker escaped Josie’s nostrils. Becca giggled. “So you’ll think about it, huh? Well, we’ll see. Love you.” She flipped the switch and stepped out into the silent drizzling rain and smelled the refreshing clean air.
Gradually, walking along the fence line, she scanned the field, looking for any indication of the horse that seemed so real. Nothing.