First of all, this is the longest disclaimer in my writing-history. For a very good reason. So read it.
I own nothing Twi, that stuff belongs to S. Meyer. I don't own any of the lyrics quoted in this story, not in this chapter nor the ones to come. The lyrics are the property of their respective owners.
I'm not giving out advice on how to deal with troubled horses or people for that matter. I'm not a vet nor a therapist. This is a work of fiction.
This story will eventually have sexual content, thus not being suited for anyone under the age of 18. Further warnings will be posted to the beginning of the chapters that include lemons.
If I'm making a lot of errors with the horse-related lingo, please do point that out by sending me a private message. I like to learn what I can, and since English isn't my first language and my darling beta Beautiful Figment doesn't know squat about horses, we're pretty much screwed with the lingo. ;)
Do read the Author's Note at the end of this chapter, please. There's some stuff you need to know in there.
Brand New Start
This would be my hardest job ever. I knew that even before I saw the video of what had happened to them.
The rider was severely injured, and the horse had broken her hind leg along with sustaining other serious injuries.
Have you read that book, or seen the movie, The Horse Whisperer? Well this was pretty much the same deal, though the accident, horse and rider were very different. I was no Robert Redford either.
The rider was twenty one, a grown man and one of the best eventing riders in the state, if not the entire Southeast region. In a few years he might have even been the best in the country.
The horse was a mare, a thoroughbred and clydesdale cross. She was eight years old and in her prime, or so the rider's parents told me. Since the accident, she had gone from being a docile horse with fiery competitive instincts to a wild beast that broke herself if kept inside the stable. She was only happy outside and never tried to escape the large paddock that housed her now. Nobody had been able to touch her in the two months after she had been given the all clear by the vet, and even he hadn't been able to do anything but observe her.
After the accident, the horse had been operated on and had received the best care money could buy. Following her surgery she had been closed in a box inside her stable. This box restricted her mobility throughout the duration of her lengthy recovery as any excess movements would cause even more damage.
I hated the gig from the start. I was the horse whisperer in this equation; the one with the ability to connect with the animals, read them and try to get them back to their natural state. A state which for this mare, did not include cowering in the corner of the paddock waiting for half an hour to go get her food when it was given to her, wanting to be sure nobody will hurt her again.
I had a feeling this wasn't going to be about the horse alone. The tone of the mother's voice on the phone had made it clear that she was afraid that she was going to lose her child. The way she begged me, the way I could hear the once dignified woman fight back her tears... I couldn't tell her no. I couldn't tell her I didn't do this sort of work anymore.
I left my little house on the prairie, as my sister calls it, and took the first available flight to the family's home in Kentucky. During the flight I looked at the video his mother had sent me. I had had just about enough time at the airport to download it from their private server to my laptop.
It wasn't until that moment that I realized just what I was up against.
The video wasn't meant to be sentimental nor a trip down memory lane, I could tell that. It was a portrait of her son and I could see what she meant, what made her beg for my help.
In the first part of the clip he looked like he was barely in his teens. He was riding a massive gelding, maybe a clydesdale and kept telling his mother behind the camera that he was okay, that he was just going to jump a few times. With a turn of the camera I could see the course he had made for himself. The fences were really high and I was already anxious.
I heard a voice behind the camera, possibly belonging to the boy's father. "Esme, he's wearing his helmet and his back protector. I'm here if something goes wrong. He needs to learn his limits," he assured her and she sighed deeply enough for the camera to dip slightly.
The camera then tilted back to the boy on the large horse. He began to gallop around the field and approached the first fence which they flew over easily. The camera shook with what I was sure was relief.
He kept laughing, I could hear it, and the horse looked enthusiastic as well. When he decided to cut a corner, the horse did his best but he was too large for the move and had to stop. He refused to jump at the last second and the boy had no chance of staying in the saddle.
The camera dropped as his mother wailed. I wasn't able see what happened, but the scene of the boy flying in the air over the horse's neck and then the fence was burned into my memory. I heard the sound of running footsteps and I turned up the volume on my headphones. My body tensed up with anxiety from not being able to see what was happening, not being able to see if the boy was alright.
"Son, are you alright?" I heard his father in the distance. His mother was still crying but then she exhaled loudly. I could hear a tiny bit of laughter in her tone when she picked up the camera again to point it towards the boy.
He got up, laughing his butt off and clutched his stomach. The horse was approaching them again and he looked sheepish. I could tell from his body language that he thought he betrayed the boy's trust by not jumping.
My muscles relaxed as I heard the boy speak to the horse. "It's okay Mickey, my fault...not yours. You're a good lad. I was being stupid. Are you okay?" His father looked over and then walked back to where the mother was with the camera. In the background I could see the boy checking the horse thoroughly, although, visibly, the horse appeared fine.
"I'll try that once more," he called out and got back in the saddle.
The next jump was more collected, they flew over a fence that seemed so very high for a horse that size. It seemed effortless, the boy was laughing and the horse seemed happy to do what the boy asked.
The second part of the video started with the boy and, this time, the mare competing. I could see this was an older clip as it was not more advanced than a novice-class competition. They moved so seamlessly, so perfectly together. The mare was black with white high stockings and a huge star on her forehead. She was gorgeous and the way she listened to his instructions was perfection.
There was a minute or so of each part of the event. There was the dressage which consists of certain movements in an enclosed arena. It tests how well the horse and the rider worked together, how obedient the horse is, and their balance and rhythm. Some would say it looks like the horse and the rider are dancing, which to me was quite an accurate description.
The dressage was followed by the cross country, which is a test of endurance. The course is in open nature; there are dozens of solid natural fences and long routes where horse and rider demonstrate their speed. I wasn't sure I could do that myself as it requires both the horse and the rider to be extremely fit. I was fit, but not that fit.
The last part was show jumping, set in a ring to test the obedience and the technical jumping abilities of the horse. That's what you've probably seen on tv, colorful fences and riding against the clock with as few penalties as possible.
They excelled in each part of the event and the last bit of part two of the video was the awards ceremony. Judging by the date in the lower corner of the video, it had been two years since this competition.
The third part of the video had similar images from different events, the boy, now a young man, with the mare; always so perfect together. Different events showed the duo landing in one of the top three positions, if not winning outright.
I didn't want to see the fourt part of the video once it began, but I knew I had to; to know what happened to them that made them what they were now.
Taking a deep breath, I watched.
I was grateful that it wasn't his mother behind the camera this time.
They approached the brush fence. No big deal, they'd jumped hundreds of those. It was high, but it wasn't their first intermediate competition. It was a tougher event, but they had done these before. His mother told me that "there seemed to be nothing they couldn't do together", and I believed her.
They were coming up to one particular brush fence and I could tell the exact split second when things went wrong. When they began the jump, the horse's left hind leg slipped and she did her best to complete the jump. Unfortunately, her balance was gone by the time they came to the landing and her feet gave in.
Nobody can explain how it happens. One in a hundred, they say. One in a hundred of riding accidents during these events. That's all it takes.
The rider realized they wouldn't make it but it was too late.
The horse made a perfect somersault. I watched in horror as the young man got crushed by the horse when it rolled over him on the ground and I could hear people screaming. With tears in my eyes, I watched the paramedics rush to him. At this point, the horse tried to get up but stumbled on her broken leg.
Pressing pause I tried to control my breathing and the flight attendant was suddenly at my side.
"You alright, sir?" she asked, worried.
"Yes Ma'am. Could you bring me some whiskey?" I asked and she nodded. She returned quickly with my drink and watched me toss it back, emptying the glass.
"Another one?" she asked and I shook my head.
"I'm okay now. Thanks, darlin'," I said and flashed her a grin.
"Alright," she said and blushed sweetly, "but tell me if you need anything else." She then stumbled off with my empty glass.
After wiping my eyes, I replayed the entire video several times until I could replay it behind my closed lids if I wanted to. The mother's words, well trained as she had no doubt said them before, played in my ears as an echo of our phonecall.
"My son suffered several broken bones, including his collarbone, jaw, his left arm, leg and hip, and three ribs. He also sustained a serious concussion and was comatose for sixteen days. He was paralyzed from the waist down for three months and still walks stiffly because he refuses to go to physical therapy. The scars on the inside are worse. He rarely speaks and doesn't go anywhere near the stables and he hasn't asked about the mare once, though he knows she's alive. They were best friends for years; she was closer to him than any of his human friends. We need you to help us, Mr. Whitlock. I know you don't do this kind of work anymore, but you are quite literally our only hope. Please, I'm begging you."
Esme Cullen had clearly done her homework. She knew I didn't do these things. I took the easy cases and got them done, trained young horses and helped to heal the less damaged ones. This mare...she was damaged goods, just like her rider was.
So why was I there?
It wasn't simply because of the mother's tears or words, or even this video.
Digging my wallet from my back pocket, I looked at the picture she mailed to me. It was recent, approximately a year old; a couple of months before the accident, according to Mrs. Cullen.
In the picture, the sun glistened in the green eyes of the young man. He grinned crookedly with his right arm around the horse's neck. The star on the mare's forehead shone in the sun and the ears of the animal were pointed towards the camera. They looked so happy, so peaceful and relaxed. His hair was reflecting the sunlight; it looked red but his mother used the word, "bronze". They were the picture of ease and friendship and trust. I'd never seen anything so lovely in my life.
Turning the picture around, I saw the words, "Edward and Calla" printed on the back. Three simple words, no date, because a date is not needed.
Pressing play again, I began watching the fifth and final part.
I saw the mare as she was now. Her hooves were in terrible condition because nobody could get close enough to her to trim them. She wasn't malnourished because she did eat. She even shone in the light of the sun that hit her tangled black mane.
When the camera and the person behind it moved outside the fence, the mare kept the human in her line of sight at all times, moving with them, always keeping as much distance between herself and the "camera man" as possible. I could tell she was terrified and I feared this might turn out to be something I couldn't handle. I was beginning to doubt that anyone could.
The scene in the video changed and Edward appeared. He didn't realize he was being filmed as he limped out of the house and towards a path that led into the woods. It seemed as though he made a conscious effort not to look to his right where the stable and the paddocks were.
The person with the camera didn't follow him. It wasn't necessary. Even from a distance I could see he was thin; he looked...dead. There was something angry in his posture, angry and resigned and something else that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
There was nothing about that man, not even a hint, that resembled the young boy in the first part of the video. The video concluded with a fade to black and I closed my laptop with a sigh.
Something about these two, Edward and his mare Calla, called to something inside me. I didn't know what it was. We hadn't met yet and he was not the same young man from the picture. He was no longer the happy-go-lucky, talented young rider but instead, a broken shell of himself. Calla wasn't anything like she used to be either. I knew I needed to stretch my creativity to get through to her.
I was almost ten years older than he was and had lived through and seen so much, yet this broken young man had invaded my mind so completely, it amazed me.
I knew already that I was going to do this for him, not just for his family or his horse. Generally speaking, I concentrated on the animal first and foremost, but that might not be the case this time.
I had made this mistake once before, concentrated on the owner of the horse instead of the animal. That was why I stopped doing these gigs, however, I couldn't think of that now. I certainly couldn't think of her now.
The only thing I could think of was the fact that I had a half an hour until the plane would land and I was going to meet him and his horse for the first time. I was not a religious man, I never had been, but I had the sudden urge to pray to some entity, some deity that might be listening.
"Please, help me help them. Help me bring the mare back to her old self. Help me make Edward's eyes shine with joy again. And please, help me."
Author's Note: Thanks for reading. I hope you like it so far.
I've set up a blog for this story, it's at http://brandnewstartfic(dot)blogspot(dot)com
There will be links to stuffs and all that jazz, trust me, you'll want to bookmark it if you liked this chapter. ;)
There is a second part to this first chapter already written, a lot of what will be third chapter is also done. Once we (myself and my beta) get the second chapter sorted, it will be posted, probably quite soon, in the next day or two I hope. :) Chapter 2 is where the boys actually meet for the first time.
In the future we'll post the chapters as we get them done. I'll try to make it at least every other week, if not every week, as I do have Willingly and Joyfully to work with too. This story will, however, be my main focus from now on.
The Fandom Gives Back auction is coming, SOON. Remember that I have my own thread there and this story and the EPOV for stuffs will be up for grabs if you bid bid bid... ;) There is something from EPOV written already, so it is there, just need some incentive to get it out properly... Need I hint more? Here is a link to my thread. :) Go check it out. Do it for the kids. http://thefandomgivesback(dot)proboards(dot)?board=fic&action=display&thread=44
You who got through the epic Disclaimer and the almost as epic Author's Note, I congratulate you. You did well. I promise these will be shorter in the future chapters.