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2014 Prompt Responses - 6. Prompt 309

Your phone rings and you pick up it. There is only one problem, the conversation going on is one you remember happening ten years ago on the date of a terrible accident. As the conversation continues you suddenly feel very light headed and close your eyes. However, when you open them you find yourself still on the phone but now dressed as you were all those years ago. What do you do?

“I’m scheduled to ride at 5:00, so barring any delays I’d like to be in the warm-up ring by 4:00 to give Charlie a chance to settle down.”

I felt the blood drain from my face as déjà vu slammed through me. I’d had this conversation before. Only back then, I was the student, not the trainer.

“Patrick? What do you think? Can you be there by 4:00?”

I tried to shake off the unsettling reminder of that awful day ten years ago.

“Patrick? Are you ok?” Adam asked.

“Um… yeah… I can be there by 4:00.” I closed my eyes and grabbed the edge of the table as I was overcome by a wave of dizzying nausea. When I opened my eyes, I dropped the phone as I realized that I was dressed in riding clothes. I hadn’t ridden since the accident.

“Patrick? What’s going on? Why won’t you answer me? What’s wrong?”

I picked up the phone and tried to stop my hand from shaking. “Yeah, Adam. I’m ok.” I lied.

“Adam? Who the hell is Adam? What’s going on with you, Patrick? It’s me, Eddy!”

Eddy? What the hell? I hadn’t heard from that asshole in ten years! He dumped me right after the accident.

“Look, Patrick. I gotta go. I’ll meet you at the warm-up ring at 4:00. Let Applejack get used to the surroundings and get him relaxed and focused on you. I’ll see you then.”

I stared at the phone in my hand in disbelief. I ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My hair was the jet black of my youth, not the salt and pepper it became after the accident. I pulled up my sleeve and checked for the jagged scar that ran along my right arm. It wasn’t there. Neither was the slight limp and constant dull pain in my right leg. I splashed cold water on my face, walked into the living room, and plopped down on the couch. I stretched out my legs and checked out the well-worn leather of my boots. They fit me like a second skin and wearing my boots and breeches again felt like coming home. I looked at my watch and saw it was just past noon. I had about an hour before I needed to be at the show grounds. I wanted to allow plenty of time to memorize the course and plan my strategy. I also needed to allow plenty of time for Applejack to acclimate to the show environment. He was a seasoned show horse, but was also very excitable.

I shook my head and thought I was really losing it. It was Adam and Charlie’s day. Not mine and Applejack’s. Applejack and I had our day ten years ago. Exactly ten years ago, I realized. I shuddered and considered calling Adam and telling him to withdraw from the Grand Prix. I knew it would break his heart, but there were just too many parallels to what happened ten years ago. I had never been able to forgive myself for what happened to Applejack. I didn’t think I could live with myself if history repeated itself with Adam and Charlie. As I reached for the phone to call Adam, another wave of dizziness washed over me. I looked at the phone blankly, wondering why I was going to call Eddy when we had already solidified our plans. I set the phone back down, grabbed my keys, and headed out to the show grounds.

I went over my course strategy in my head as I warmed Applejack up. This was a huge night for us. Our first Grand Prix after moving up from a very successful Junior division. The course was intimidating and much bigger than anything we had previously attempted, but I had the overconfident arrogance of youth and thought that we were talented enough to handle the course with ease. Eddy asked me if I thought I could handle it. He had underestimated the size of the course and had some misgivings about our ability to negotiate it. I leaned down and whispered in his ear how we would celebrate once I won. He grinned at me, the sunlight glinting off his beautiful auburn hair.


Eddy and I both set aside our increasing misgivings as some of the seasoned veterans of the circuit were racking up some rather impressive fault totals. I was still arrogant enough to think that Applejack and I could handle anything, and I think Eddy just wanted to “celebrate” no matter what the outcome.

Applejack never quite settled down as much as I wanted him to, so he was a bit more skittish than he usually was when we entered the ring. He was lathered in sweat and chomping at the bit, pulling at my hands as he tried to go faster than I was letting him. We took the first couple fences awkwardly and only cleared them through dumb luck. We managed to become a bit more in sync over the next few fences, until we had to gallop down to the water jump, and then collect for five strides to a large vertical jump. Applejack did not want to slow down after the water and pretty much blew through the fence instead of over it. After that I had a tenuous bit of control back. I felt a fresh rush of confidence as I turned toward the triple combination – a set of three fences with one stride in between each fence. I felt yet another wave of dizzying nausea as we thundered down towards the combination. Each of Applejack’s footfalls echoed through my head in the four-beat cadence of a gallop instead of the three-beat canter rhythm it should have been. We were going too fast. I felt every breath he took, every muscle twitch beneath me, every shake of his head as he tried to get me to ease up on the reins and let him go even faster. I saw a flash of splintered rails, tangled limbs, sickening snaps, and horrific screams. I realized that I was about to make a mortal mistake. One stride away from the first fence of the triple, I pulled hard on my left rein and managed to turn Applejack away from the jump. As I signaled the judge my intent to withdraw, I heard a cacophony of beeping and I blacked out.

As I slowly regained consciousness, I realized that I was in a bed in what looked to be a hospital. I heard muffled sobs and felt my hand being squeezed. “I’m so sorry, Patrick. I should have never pushed you into something you weren’t ready for. I love you so much. I can’t believe I lost you because of my stupidity and selfishness! Please forgive me.” The sobbing grew louder.

I squeezed his hand back and ran my other hand through the graying auburn hair. “There’s nothing to forgive, sweetheart.” I croaked, my voice sore from disuse. Eddy looked at me incredulously. I watched the guilt and stress of the past ten years slowly vanish from his face. His eyes widened in disbelief as he shouted, “Everyone come quick! He’s awake!”

Copyright © 2014 Valkyrie; All Rights Reserved.
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I wanted to tackle this prompt so bad but couldn't get my head wrapped around it. You did and it's a great story. So glad you jumped in. Great story. :)

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On 03/09/2014 12:53 PM, joann414 said:
I wanted to tackle this prompt so bad but couldn't get my head wrapped around it. You did and it's a great story. So glad you jumped in. Great story. :)
Thanks, Joann :) I'm really glad you enjoyed my story :)
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