Winter, November 21, 1703

Early sun beams of brazen orange and yellow began to cascade down the hillside into Moses Valley. The trees leaves, once a cold damp green in the night; were now a blaze as the iced drops caught the fiery sun's rays and brightened them to a height one did not dare challenge the mind to compare. In a solid and warm barn lies a small child, her golden curls catching what of the sun's rays spilled in through the window of her pony's stall. Her breath was soft and smelled sweet of chocolate, for no nanny forbid her late night binges in Patches' home. Here was her Hideaway, her safe Haven. And now, sick, lie her best friend in all the world, as known to a six year old girl. She curled up softly, stirring ever so slightly against the breast of the fevered pony and awoke startling herself as well as her pet. She sat bolt upright, and looked about, realizing she had missed her sneak in time frame and began to stand. Father had, the night before, admonished sternly against the child's overnight sleep in the barn; sick pony or not. The girl brushed herself clean and laid the blanket neatly over the shivering pony once again, and at the sound of approaching carriage wheels bolted out the back door. Her head long rush brought her into the strong and warm arms of Corgia, her Nanny. The girl's soft pale blue eyes filled with mist as she saw her Keeper's stern face and the anger mixed with relief as she held the girl close. The child began to think she would never draw breath again, as the strong, loving arms released her gently. "Endora.. Yo Pappa is goenna be plenta angry iffin he know you slepted with da hoss agin" Her gentle voice cautioned the girl that her actions were covered THIS time and this alone.. Endora's smile out did the sun by far, as she grabbed her Nanny's hands and kissed the warm brown skin and then she was off! Breakfast was waiting and the vet was in the barn with Patches.. The girl would not rest easy till she knew her friend was safe.

Breakfast made for time fill, as Endora rushed through it. It was as though her Mother, across from her, had never taught her daughter a lick of mannerism for table etiquette. With a flushed grin and a shy "Morning Mamma" Endora finished off the last of her eggs and her hotcakes and pleaded her excuse to the barn. Elisa Jones retrieved a jacket and held it out for the young girl before even her Mother's approval crossed her lips. "Endora Love," she called out. "Please dress presentable, you are of Class." And with those words the small child trudged sadly up to her room for clothes more than her night wear. Corgia followed and with a slight stare of disapproval from Mrs. Moses picked the girl a nice stylish outfit, some containment for her wiry hair, and a clean bath for her dirty face. The girl was clean and looked of her class as she watched the vet's buggy pull away from her barn and her father return with so sad a look upon his face he dared not face his daughter. Endora, with a hope only children whose dreams are real as life can have, ran to her father to hug him. "It is okay Papa. Patches is strong, he's gonna live. He told me so last night." The girl's smile was bold and sweet, but faded as she saw her Father's sadness turn to anger. "You slept in the barn again didn't you Child?" Endora cried a soft sob and held her father's jacket tails as she pleaded one last wish. "Please make him live Papa" She could feel her father's loving arms around her as HE pleaded in return. "No more sleeping in the Barn. Joseph is there to keep the animals, he'll keep Patches for as long as he makes it, Endora" He smiled as he looked down into the girl's tear stained face and begged, as he fell to his knee to hold his only child. "Don't take Papa's little girl from him to save a pony." The little girl did not understand and sadly walked away. But she was not done with her fight. She didn't care if she had to sleep in the cold November winter air for a year. Her pony would live. And it would be because she stayed with him to hold him and keep him safe.

Endora's day dragged and only near the draw of her bath did her face glow, for she knew she was soon going to be out in the barn, warm, safe, and next to Patches, for her night watch. As the lights dimmed and the help settled in bed, Endora took the lantern from the hallway hook that was normally used for a quick trip, like to the bathroom, so she didn't trip and began her walk out to the Barn. The cold air was dry and wisped her pale blue nightgown about her body and almost seemed to carry her as though she weighed not a thing. It was crisp and cold as a bug bite to the tiny girl. But the Pony needed her and on she trudged. The soft light of a welcomed moon, and its silvery silk like strands, slithered in between the forested branches and to the frozen earth below. Endora loved the soft sound her tiny feet made in the light powdery snow. She almost giggled but for fear of waking Joseph dared not. She was a sight the girl was; frail, small, alone, so pale in skin she may as well have always BEEN a ghost. Her tiny hands softly warming themselves by the warmth of the lantern, under a jacket was hid. And in the cold winter night her soft, ringlets of gold spun so perfect they appeared unreal, were thrown about so gaily and with such a grace it appeared the strands were really gold and not the child's hair. With a quiet brush and swing, the barn door was shut behind her and the tiny girl was relieved to feel warmth as the fire's crackle and hiss, in itself alone, greeted her in a life loving warmth. She laid the lantern beside her and crawled beneath the blanket under which her Pony stirred and adjusting her weight so little, as to not notice her foot against something, she fell asleep.

Mr. Adam Moses, and Janus Moses, and Corgia and Shelly Earra Moses rushed the doors and in the middle of their flight realized Endora was not to be found. As the last beam of a once mighty barn collapsed, Mr. Adam Moses saw too late where his daughter had slept. And he fell dead to the ground of sorrow and nothing short. In the distance came a thundering pounding as Joseph returned to report his findings.. "Missa Moses!! Missa Moses!" His shouts were in torrents and yet untouched by the roar of the fire beyond him.. "They all ran away and jumped!! They jumped Missa Moses!!" And to his ever further bereavement saw his master lying dead at his mount's lathered feet. Mrs. Moses was so saddened and teary, she could not see the small black teenager, but in a fallowed attempt to stay standing reached for him. "Let the horses die, we should all be dead." And with this, the poor saddened child saw his fatal mistake. Figuring Patches a goner from Strangles anyhow, he'd left the pony, releasing all the horses and exiting the barn.. He'd sworn he heard the girl cry, but had placed it to the house knowing her pony would die. He ran from his place and joined his keep over the cliffs a solid mile straight through the woods. He'd have never be able to see the face of his Masters again knowing he'd let her die.

A Day for Every Year
May 17, 1995

The wheels of the huge plane screamed and smoked as they landed. The two teenagers were so proud to finally be making this trip alone, as promised by their parents. They had made the trip every year, but always with family. This year was so different in many ways. One, they were going alone. Two, Amy was actually finding out alot about herself as a person and had revealed to her parents part of it, and they saw her, still, as nothing short of their daughter. Three, Stephan had known and when Amy revealed her secret, he'd been there as he always was to help her, strengthening their bond even further. Amy smiled and tucked a loose strand of her wavy, waist length black hair behind her ear. She was so happy to be back in the California Mountains, where they actually believed in sunlight! In Seattle it was most often dreary and sordidly saddening, and yet she'd never give it up for the world. She glanced over at her brother as the announcer proclaimed the rules of plane exit to the passengers. Amy stood and retrieved her things from over head and turned up the cd player. How fitting was this song…. Oceans, by Pearl Jam. Oh how the girl loved that band. As she moved out, she could hear her brother blasting Alice In Chains on his CD player; Facelift.. Man In The Box leered out to her already over whelmed ears, and she almost felt bad for Stephan's ear drums. The corridor of the exit seemed too long for both of them as they exited on to California soil. MMM… LAX.. how sweet it was to see the Airport knowing they would spend their summer here trusted to their Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins by themselves. Amy saw her cousin David first and rushed to greet him… he smiled and limply returned her hug with NO enthusiasm. But Amy didn't mind at all, she was happy to be there period, and nothing would dampen her spirits. Emmy sat in a chair quiet and staring, lost in the space of lust, over a cute trolley boy; who was busy collecting a snobbish woman's cases and holding her snippy little dog. Amy laughed and sat beside her a moment, staring as well at the boy.. whom couldn't have been older than 18, and smiled as she asked her flame haired cousin, "Haven't changed at all have ya girlie?" Emmy was about to whirl in a happy blaze of hugs and smiles when she noted that the boy had now turned his attention to the young black haired, green eyed, and slender beauty beside her: her cousin. "No not really," Emmy replied and hugged her cousin lightly, before throwing the boy one nasty stare, and moving on to her parents who were giving Amy's poor brother the third degree that is soooo common among family who see each other once a year.

The ride home was entirely too short as they all wanted to catch up with each other and had too short a drive to do so in. Amy began to tell them of her new found self, but reserved that for better timing, as she saw how proud they all were to have the family back. Stephan went on and on about his new band The Jorges, and how they were now playing gigs and Amy was singing background for them on some songs. And Amy simply sat and then in a sudden spurt asked with extreme excitement, "May we go riding when we get home?" Emmy beamed. "Yeah Dad, It's summer now and we can go out to Moses Valley, please?" Mr. Norace, Ed Norace, a proud lawyer and damned good at his profession, sat stern like and began to think. "Isn't that where that Old Moses House is?" Emmy and David exchanged glances and with devious smiles to Amy and Stephan nodded. Mr. Norace quickly dispelled the idea, claiming the old house a wreck. "You kids can ride but stay away from that place." Emmy leaned over to Amy and whispered in her ear, "We found it a month ago, Shelly, Succa and I when we were out jogging. This old man a ways away says that place is haunted. David is too chicken shit to go so I figured you guys HAVE to go!" Amy smiled. She'd always loved supernatural forces and this should prove to be interesting as she loved old houses as well.

Their stuff neatly packed away in dresser drawers and their clothes changed, the four kids all headed out to the barn to saddle their horses. Amy had, for the first time in her entire trip removed her headphones and wore no Cd-Man to claim. Stephan was a bit behind schedule and was by then on to Primus' Seas of Cheese cd. Amy laughed a bit and found that her favorite horse still lived in the third stall down and she haltered, bridled and saddled him to ride, packing in her saddle bags her walkman, and some chips and a soda; just in case. They led their mounts from the breezeway door and walked them out into the yard, tightened the girths one last time and with swift and well executed mounting maneuvers all four were up and off. Shelly Norace watched with pride as they rode off in what appeared to be the exact opposite direction of Moses Valley. She turned to wash the dishes in the sink. Her children were impeccable when it came to housework, just not in the summer months. She smiled, happy to have her sister's children there for the summer. Julia and Craig needed some quality time together to work things out. Surely if it got any worse Amy and Stephan would know what was up, and her sister wanted to save her marriage before her children ever knew there was anything wrong. But like any normal family, the children bore the cross of ignorance for the sake of their parents, and Shelly knew that Amy and Stephan knew. They knew alot more than 16 year olds should know, but none the less, they knew it was near the end of their family as they knew it.

As the kids reached the ridge of the valley from the back end Amy felt shivers run up her spine. She almost had the feeling she wanted to cry. She could see a cliff down in the lower regions of the valley, where it dropped off in a slope towards the taper of the soft green meadow-like valley, surrounded by lush evergreen forest. Then in a sharp contrast of the opposite side, the side Amy saw best, it simply dropped off making the side they were on accessible to entrance, but the other side was impassible by ALL means. There was a trail to the east side of the valley, and beyond the other side past the drop off lay a lavish and secretive seeming forest. They had in all the years they'd ridden in this state never ridden out here! Amy was astonished and scared at the same time. She had an odd feeling that something was horribly wrong. "Want to go down into the canyon? There's lots of cool bones and shit down there." Emmy was almost dying to head down and her horse was simply dying to move as he pranced, from the one side of his spot he was told to stand in, to the next. Amy cued her horse forward. "I want to go to the house you told me about." With a smile to hide her anxious nerves, Amy looked at Emmy, "Can we?" With a nod and a smile, Emmy led them on, and with a cool and unnatural demeanor began to ask her cousin questions Amy never thought she'd have to explain. "So My mom says your parents just found out you're not too normal. " Amy was taken aback, not quite sure how to answer that one, she sought further answers to what was going on in her head. "Meaning?" "She says you're not into guys." Emmy knew she'd been totally out of line, but she had no problem, she wanted to establish the fact, and know for sure, that Trey would not end up with Amy instead of her. And if Amy was Gay what a great way to hold on to him. She pushed for an answer.... "Well are you?" Amy was trying not to just deck her cousin. It was not a problem she should know, it was just WHY Emmy wanted to know, that bugged her. If Amy said yes then that would give Emmy total leverage to make Amy belittled if things didn't go the way Emmy planned.. And Amy didn't like the conniving scenario she saw her cousin weaving, it bugged her that she'd grown so manipulative. Amy simply smiled and with a quiet stare warning Emmy not to fuck with her over it, answered with the truth.. "No I don't like guys, is that going to be a problem?" Emmy's beaming smile answered Amy's many questions. "No!! That's great!" Emmy cued her horse into a trot as they pulled to the trailhead and began up the steep incline towards the forest beyond. Only a mile ahead, straight through the woods was the old Moses home. An old stylish 1700's sort of house, it had once, before all the weather, been quite a nice home with three stories. An old barn had once stood boldly in the center of the wood lined forest's timberline. But according to the man up the road, it had burned down and the house was haunted by the father of a small girl, as he'd died of sorrow in the doorway of the old home hundreds of years ago. The story intrigued Amy and they rode on for near another hour, the sun beating on them and taking momentarily from them a few sights, as the rays jabbed in through the branches and glared a warning of turning back while they had the chance. Amy noticed that Stephan and David were no longer with them, but the fear of where they'd gone was thankfully short lived, as they raced their horses after them and to the girls, pulling to sliding halts just before ramming into the girls' mounts. Emmy's yells filled the forest. And the once silent forest was now abated with the frightened calls of flustered birds, squirrels and such, as Hound's Tooth, Emmy's four year old Thoroughbred and Arab cross gelding proceeded to kick out. Had he actually made contact, he would have severely laid out David's Quarter Horse, Morning Sun. Nearly losing her seat Emmy grasped for dear life her horse's neck and clung there, her face as white as a ghost. As white as the little girl Amy saw standing in the field they'd been coming up on; the pass of the timberline, where the house resided beyond..

Amy was mesmerized and held her breath.. All the others took this as concern, as David laughed rather than apologizing as he should have, and Stephan actually dismounted from his Thoroughbred mare's back. Holding Glory's reins in one hand, he calmed and settle Hound's Tooth with the other asking, all the while, if Emmy was alright.. "One fucking day David, he's gonna kill one of us!!! I keep trying to tell you quit fuckin off on that stupid nag of yours!!" David burst out laughing, "My horse will out work that 20,000 dollar whore anyday!!!" and he moved on.. Amy was still frozen as the tiny girl approached her Standard Bred paint horse. Then, the girl touched the horse, and with an eerie, whispery, as if under water almost, voice she cried, "Patches." At the touch Shouting Thunder bolted, and nearly lost Amy when she did.. Amy held on to her seat and rode the mare's fear out and when at last she pulled the horse to a stop, she was far past her brother and cousins. She turned the mare and attempted to return to the clearing, but Shouting Thunder would have none of that!! The mare reared and snorted, pawing the ground, and there just feet past the horse's head, kneeling and staring at the girl on HER horse, the little girl called out again; "Patches, I'm sorry.. I'm sorry.." Amy screamed for her brother and her cousins. They rushed up in a flurry, as they had followed swiftly. "What the fuck happened??" Amy was shaken to tears and dismounted her mare and tied her to a tree. She noticed the girl now hiding behind the tree she'd tied her horse to, and she prayed her mount not run away this time. But the horse seemed to have a calm sense about her, and she actually looked like she was in a trance. Then, with a whicker that sounded as if it had come from a colt or pony, allowed the pale girl to pet her nose, and then her legs. Amy wanted to faint. "Do you see her?" David snorted.. "Yeah Dumb ass, the horse is a bit hard to miss!! She's 17 hands!!" Amy whirled on him as though she might engulf him in one fell swoop and whispered angrily "The little girl, shit head!! The one petting Thunder!" Emmy's eyes were wide as she too began to see what Amy saw. "So why the bolt?" Stephan asked, studying the tiny girl with fascination. "She touched Thunder," Amy answered.. " She's touching her right now too, so why'd she bolt if she touched her before?" Amy shrugged and reached a hand to touch the girl's hand, but where the girl's body should have been was a sharp electric-like shock and Amy screamed, spooking her horse.. "HOLY SHIT!!! She's a….. FUCK ME! SHE'S A GHOST!!" And with that, Amy untied her horse and rode off wildly, whilst her cousins and brother stared at the small child, who faded away calling to her pony of years ago….

David, Stephen, and Emmy pulled up haul at the back entrance to the barn in a slide that would have put professional cowboys to shame. The horses were hotter and more breath worn than they had ever been upon return to their home, in all their life with these people. All of them being experienced riders, knew, that horses should be walked the last mile of a long trip's return, to cool down as well as to prevent the effects of barn souring. They dismounted in unison on the slide, keeping one rein in the dismounting hand, to lead, and landed running towards the panels of the furthest turn-out; to enter the barn at an angle from which they'd not be seen from the house.

Amy was brushing her mount with a determination, as if she'd fall apart if she weren't doing something. Her face was clearly marked by interludes of fear, intrigue, and confusion by turns. She never spoke a word, as if she didn't hear the commanding grunts called out by the horses in the force of the slide, determining them to stop before crashing into the panels. The sliding on gravel, as it sprayed the barn walls in fits of noise like a machine gun, upon the grueling journey to stop, seemed not to phase her at all. She was as if she were made of wires, and circuits, performing a command on task; not of any will at all. Stephen entered first, then locked open the sliding caster door of the end stall for the next entering horse and rider couple. Amy still kept about her duty to rid Thunder's coat of any blemish or unkempt set of hairs. Every Quark, every switch of hair grain, was tilted perfectly as it should have appeared. The black patches were sheen and glossy, and the white hued a blue silver as all perfect whites do on a finely groomed horse of dual or segregate colors. There was none of any imperfection about the horse's body. She untied the mare swiftly with a short tug, flick of the wrist, and retrieval swoop; not even acknowledging the others' entrance, and stalled the mare. She gave her horse an extra cup full of Sweet Feed and Corn for her troubles and the spook she'd survived and then bolted the door behind her, on her way out.

With the mare, cared for and stalled, Amy then turned to face her brother, a mere three feet away, and tried to apologize. She managed a weak smile as she tried to get the words to at least fall out, if not come out the right way. "I'm sorry I lost it back there, But I was so shocked and bombarded by information." She looked at her brother, and him alone. He was her twin, her second half, the other part of her, that made her existence make sense. In that moment of asking forgiveness, Emmy and David may as well not have been there at all. As Emmy pressed near to hear what was being said, David took the other three horses and began to loosen girths, remove bridles, place halters, and tie them in order down the breezeway of the ten horse barn. Amy began to describe what she'd felt as she'd touched the form of the little girl. "It was some kind of telepathy. She was trying to tell me something, like it was very important. She.." Amy paused, and fought back an onslaught of tears, recalling the feelings that had been expressed to her in that mere second of time. " She lost something very dear to her. She had a pony, he looked just like a tiny Thunder, and he died with her, it was her fault. Then I got this awful feeling of a burning sensation, like I was burning alive!" She wiped away a tear from her right eye, and looked at the ground, while Emmy tossed nervous glances from Amy to the house. "No shit!??!" Emmy was in awe and yet afraid. And yet, she wondered if maybe her beautiful, smart, and wicked cousin hadn't dreamed this whole telepathy thing up for attention. Emmy quickly put a hand on Amy's shoulder as if that would solve everything, tell Amy she was ok, and then make things normal again. She spoke softly, and yet firmly, spilling the "Mum's-The-Word" plan to her own brother and cousins. "Look, not a WORD of this outside of this circle, got it?" She studied everyone's faces, looking to see that everyone agreed. "We cool down the horses, feed them and then the cows, and get back up to the house for dinner. This should give you plenty of time to calm the hell down Amy, and then we can talk about this after our parents are in bed, k?" She again passed an eye around the room for inspection of faces that may show any form of indiscrimination. As if her plan was the only that would ever work. David, in mid-girth removal, threw his sister a nasty stare that was plainly defined in the words, "How fucking insensitive can you damned well get???" But as was with his sister, she didn't care about anything that didn't get her either out of trouble or in well with others.

The chores were completed easily with four people on the regimen, and Amy actually found herself comforted by the work. She seemed to be finding that as a person she buried herself in work or duties to escape, where as Stephan buried himself in a good song or two. She began to sing along, wholeheartedly even, to her Alice In Chains CD as she filled the runner buckets for the hungry beef stock. She found herself singing 'Down In A Hole' to the cows and bulls as they ran up, snuffling through the ground peel and grains she offered them. She even found her brother and cousin's antics of farmland stupidity hilarious. Suddenly, Stephen and David's attempt to ride the two separated bulls on the end of the chute, seemed so natural that she HAD to burst out laughing as Stephen slid without a chance, from the back of No.48; straight into a pile of Grade "A" cow shit.

©   1999   Whispering Hands

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