}Brooke{

Dinner…

My mom was out of town for nine days. Nine days, I tell you! How was I supposed to survive a whole week being the only woman in the house?! Granted, I am only fifteen, but still, I consider myself a woman. Especially since I am most likely done growing at five foot four and a half inches tall. And of course, I am off subject. Back to my point.
HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE A WHOLE NINE DAYS WITHOUT MY MOM?! I am totally calm. Not overreacting at all.
Whenever my mom leaves on a trip, I am usually put in charge of the food. Bad, bad, bad decision! I somehow mess everything up when I am in charge.
Day 1: We went out to Burgerville for lunch, and got enough to hold us over for the rest of the day, with a few snacks here and there.
Day 2: I made orange chicken! And rice. You can’t forget the rice. That was easy. Put the chicken on a pan, preheat the oven to whatever, stick the chicken in, and set the timer. The rice was a little more difficult, but my dad thankfully helped me out with that.
Day 3: Salmon and steamed green beans are my absolute favorite dinner meal. My mom left me instructions for the salmon, and my dad was again there to help me. It went pretty well until I dropped the salmon. Big no no. I was putting the pan in the oven, when it just flopped over. I stood where I was looking at it. My dad came over, saying “What did you do?” I had no idea. The salmon we were able to save. It had fallen face down on the inside part of the oven door. I just didn’t tell my brothers about the little accident.
Day 4: This meal was supposed to be fairly easy, but I had never made it before. Not even with the help of my mom, so I was completely on my own. Pasta and meatballs. Not exactly my favorite, but I was trying to pick a meal that was kinda in the middle of easy and hard. I wanted it done by five thirty, and it took about fifteen minutes to make, and just to make sure I had it all done on time, I started at five-o-clock. First, I couldn’t figure out how much four quarts was. So I asked my older brother to look it up, and he did. I was going to do two bags of pasta, but thirty-two cups of water in one pot didn’t sound like a good idea to me. I had sixteen cups of water in my pot, put it on the stove top on high, and dumped the noodles in. Here is my first error. Instead of waiting for the water to get to a rolling boil first, I just added the noodles in. Obviously it wasn’t coming to a boil and I was getting annoyed, so I looked back at the instructions. I scooped all the noodles out, dumped the water, and began refilling it at the fridge. I had to put something away real quick, and the water pouring into the pot wasn’t much yet. But still, it fell. Water splashed all over the floor, my face began growing hot, water was still pouring it of the fridge. After I had cleaned all of that up, everything went pretty well. All except for the fact the I forgot about the meatballs, so I just stuck those in the microwave.
Day 5: Fortunately my brother took over for this meal. Even though it was just mixing up a bowl of Asian salad from Costco.
Day 6: I slept in late, so when I got up at eleven thirty or noon, it was almost too late to start the dinner I wanted to make. I was doing crockpot chicken. I ended having enough time. I dumped all the ingredients into the crock pot and it began cooking! Four hours later, and it was done, along with a nice spinach salad. Now that is what I call not failing on making dinner.
Day 7: We had left-over noodles, meatballs, and green beans.
Day 8: We ate out. First, a big lunch at Burgerville, and second, we had Mexican food after seeing a movie.
Day 9: I can honestly say that I do not remember what we had for dinner.
I was the happiest person on the face of the earth when my mom came home the night of the ninth day!

>Anne<

Ghost in the Graveyard…?

Every so often, my grandfather will take a few of us kids to Pennsylvania to plant flowers around graves of our relatives.
One year, my younger sister Grace and I decided to go with him on his upcoming trip. Our brother had told us that there was a tomb at the cemetery, and we wanted to see it.
So, we went with our grandfather and planted flowers around the graves. After we were done, we told our grandfather of how we wanted to see the tomb. He pointed to the top of a hill where we could see part of the tomb He told us he would drive around to the other side, and we could meet him there after we saw it.
Grace and I were very excited as we trudged up the hill with our camera and flashlight
When we finally reached the tomb, we were rather scared. Five cement steps led down to the tomb door.
Slowly, we descended them, and I began a video on my camera.
Cautiously, we walked to the metal door and looked in.
At the left there was a shelf… a coffin laid on that shelf.
That alone freaked us out.
All of a sudden, we heard a rustling sound within the tomb!
I exclaimed, “Grace? What was that?!”
Without a word, she took off up the steps, screaming as loudly as she could!
This startled me, because I wasn’t expecting her to do so. I took off running after her and we both ran down the hill and jumped into our grandfather’s car.
We never knew what that noise was.
I convinced Grace that it was a rodent of some sort, but sometimes I wonder…
How did it get in a sealed tomb with only a small broken window?
The sound we heard was made by something large…
Something too large to fit through a broken window…
Was it a rodent at all?

}Brooke{

Hysterics

I am not the type that suddenly has hysterics or an emotional breakdown, but there are times when sometimes I am just not my self at all.
I take biology from a woman who teaches home-schooled kids with a christian curriculum. I go every Tuesday with eight other students. I sit in the front row every week—to the right of the left end desk, where one of my friends sits. Two of my other friends sit in the two chairs to my right. Then three boys sit behind me, and two girls sit in the third row toward the back.
We were beginning to study invertebrates and vertebrates. Our teacher was talking about one of the creatures and writing things on the white board.
I was taking notes and had kind of blanked on what my teacher was saying. She was in the middle of a sentence, and the word “gut” brought my mind back to reality (here comes the strange part, because there always has to be a strange part in every story). For some odd reason, the word “gut” sounded funny in the tired state that I was in. And you know what I did? I broke out laughing, of course! Everyone looked sideways at me, probably wondering what was wrong with me. I tried to apologize, but I couldn’t stop laughing!
I could hear the boys snickering behind me, and then my friends were chuckling. That just made my laughing continue. The hilarious part is that our teacher didn’t stop her lesson, she just continued right on, rolling her eyes at me every once in a while. I was laughing so hard, and my teacher kept feeding me every time she used the word “gut”. My eyes began tearing, and I buried my head on my desk, with my arms wrapped around my head, laughing and crying at the same time. No matter how much I tried, I could not stop!
After a while, everyone else had quieted down, but I was still having my hysterical meltdown. Finally, I began to quiet down, and wiped the tears from my eyes. Some of the boys laughed lightly while I was wiping my face.
I have to admit, it was pretty funny. Fortunately, I wasn’t embarrassed. I apologized to my teacher, and she chuckled. Guess I just added a little amusement to everyone’s day. 🙂

>Anne<

The Race

The day this story takes place was a warm but muddy day, slightly windy and the sky was grey and about to rain, I believe.
My sister Helen and I were going on a trail ride up in the woods behind my grandparent’s house. Helen rode her horse—Cassidy—and I rode Britney. We climbed up a large hill and rode down trails until we came to a very large field. Helen and Cassidy galloped down the side of the field while Britney and I followed behind.
I stopped Britney when I heard Helen call to me that she was coming back up, and to “watch out!”
I turned Britney around, preparing to go back up the field, watching my sister as she loped faster—practically on top of me!
I dug my heels into Britney’s side and we ran as fast as we could, trying to stay ahead of Helen and her horse.
The race was on.
My heart thumped wildly in my chest. As
I could hear the sound of Helen’s approaching horse. The thumping of hooves rang through the air as dirt and mud flew up behind us.
Britney picked up pace on her own when she saw Cassidy coming close beside her. There was no stopping her. She was determined to win the race and not even I could slow her now.
For a minute, we were neck and neck.
Not for long, however, seeing as Cassidy is a very high-spirited Tennessee Walker and Britney is a calm Morgan mix.
She suddenly shot ahead of Britney and I, winning the race.

I patted my stead on the neck and praised her for her attempt to win the race.
Even though Britney and I lost, I still love the terrifying feeling of galloping at high speed on the back of a horse.

}Brooke{

A Hard Time

One morning I woke up and walked to one of the rooms in our house where my cousin was sleeping. He was going to help my mom build a brick wall at the side of our house, so he was sleeping over. My two brothers were in his room talking with him while he was rolling up his sleeping bag.
We all hung out for maybe an hour, when my dad came in and asked to see my brothers and I in his room. Without thinking anything of it, we got up from our seated positions on the floor and followed my dad into his room. My Mom was sitting on their bed, a tissue box resting near her. She blew her nose, and we sat down at the edge of the bed, our backs to her.
My dad stood in front of us and just looked at us for a minute, then began slowly. “Last night, your Grandpa had a heart attack.”
I looked at my dad in shock. My mom made a strange sound that sounded like laughing in my ten year-old mind. I smiled, thinking it was all a joke. But when I looked back at my mom, tears were streaming down her cheeks, and her eyes were red. She blew her nose again, and I knew this was no joke.
A tear broke through and rolled slowly down my cheek; that was just the beginning.
My dad looked at us sorrowfully. “He went upstairs to go to bed. Your Grandma heard a thump and went up to check on him. He was gone quickly, and your Uncle Sam called us. We were gone most of the night. Your cousin already knows, and he is going back home today.”
By then, my older brother and I were already crying—hard. My mom had tried to hold it in when we had first come in, but now we were all in the middle of a sob fest. I turned around and crawled to my mom’s side, snuggling next to her and bawling.
He was my mom’s dad.
My dad was also very close to him.
Grandpa had held a special place in my heart and other’s.
I felt torn.
I didn’t want to believe it.
It couldn’t be true…
Could it?
My younger brother didn’t understand and wasn’t affected the way the rest of us were. He was too young to care. But for me, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. He was the first person in my life that I really cared about to die.
That night has never left my memory, and never will. We cried for the longest time. I couldn’t imagine what my grandma must’ve been feeling.
The next couple of weeks were long. Relatives came from all over the place to pay their respects. We were at my grandma’s house every day. I played with the rest of my cousins, but I still had a hard time of it.
I felt like I was the only one among my cousins that was affected. We were all pretty young, the oldest being maybe fifteen.
I thought that just the news of my grandpa’s death was hard, but what was even harder was the funeral. I sat in the front pew in the church with the rest of my cousins. When the pastor began reading and talking about my grandpa, I couldn’t hold back the tears—no matter how hard I tried. One of my youngest cousins was sitting in my lap, and she left because I was crying so much.
Something that touched me greatly was how many people showed up at the funeral to talk about my grandpa or to comfort us. That also was the first day I had ever seen my dad cry.
Even though it was hard, I knew God was there with us. The first question that went through my mind was why He took grandpa from us. I asked that of God for years. I never quite understood. I still cry every time I think about my grandpa. But I also know that he is up in heaven with our Lord, and I will see him someday.
I have found a peace in the thought. But I could never have come to that conclusion without praying, my family, and reading my Bible.
God helped us through it.
He never once left me—us.

>Anne<

Broken Hand

I decided to go riding one beautiful summer day on my horse Britney, but before I could do that I had to clean the tack room in the horse trailer.
I walked across the lawn and breathed in the fresh air, excited to ride. It was a perfect day.
Taking Britney out of the trailer, I tied her to the outside—thinking nothing of it—and placing some hay near her to eat while I cleaned things up. Naturally, I had tied her very loosely so that she was able to reach her food without difficulty. I went on my way and began cleaning the trailer, humming a hymn as I went. While I had my back turned, Britney wrapped her rope about the spare tire mounted to the side of the trailer.
Knowing Britney to be very head-shy, I quickly jumped out of the tack room and tried unwrapping the rope when I had seen the predicament she was in. It was extremely taut, and my hand was between the tire and the rope. I was so close to having it undone when Britney spooked because her head was being pulled down—which she hates.
Scared half to death, she pulled her head high frantically. It happened so fast… I didn’t have time to pull my hand out. I shouted for my sister in a panicked voice. Britney pulled and pulled—saw she wasn’t freeing herself—and pulled more.
My hand was being smashed, again and again.
The rope was too tight for me to untie it.
I figured my only chance was to calm Britney.
I didn’t think about the pain… I only thought of Britney freeing herself and running loose into the road, getting herself hit.
It was a sickening thought and I determined to get out of the situation as quickly as I could.
Just when I thought I would never relieve myself from the searing pain in my hand or stop Britney from pulling, I heard a loud noise. The latch on the rope had broken!
Britney fell back and sat for a moment, stunned. I pulled my hand out quickly, so relieved that it was free. I dropped to the ground, hugging my hand to my chest in pain, tears coming to my eyes.
I called Britney, worried that she would run off, then called my sister as I jumped up and took hold of the horse. My sister wasn’t coming, so I yelled again at the top of my lungs. She was by my side within seconds of my third call. She took Britney while I sat on the ground and examined my injured appendage.
My finger was bent, so I tried to straighten it. That’s when I realized my finger wasn’t bent at all. It was so swollen it just looked bent. My sister put the calm horse away and I went inside in shock.
I was taken to the emergency room a day later. My hand was severely bruised, and I was just thankful to God that the damage wasn’t any worse.

“Oh!” Jaime said in great surprise. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to…”

Lance cut her off and spoke with a slight smirk on his face.

“It’s okay. What? Did Treyson, here, scare you?” As he spoke, he reached over the stall gate and patted a baby Jersey calf on the head.

“No… well, I guess… maybe slightly.” She said walking over to examine the calf. “Doesn’t look so scary now. What did you say it’s name is?”

“Treyson. My brother named him Trey but I call him Treyson. I have a knack for giving animals strange names.”

Jaime continued to pat the calf and his mother, not really knowing what else to say.

“Well, I fixed your collar. I mean…Annie’s collar…….not yours.” He said as he rolled his eyes at his stumbling grammar.

“Oh, thanks so much! I wasn’t sure how I was going to get her home without one.”

“It should hold, I think.” He commented as he tugged on the collar to test it’s strength.

They continued to talk as they exited the dark barn.

“I guess I should head home. It was nice meeting you, Mr. Darnell.” Jaime said with an over exaggerated formality.

“It was nice meeting you too, Miss Jaime.” He said bowing like an English gentleman. He chuckled at his  joke, as did Jaime. “Just call me Lance. And I’ll call you Jaime, OK?”

Jaime smiled and looked down at the ground, “OK. Sounds good.”

“Hey! What ya doing tomorrow?” Lance said as he lit up with an idea.

“Uh……nothing that I can think of. My mom goes to work, and my older brother probably is at his martial arts thing . Why did you ask?”

“Well……..I …just thought that…maybe you …might want to come down and help me work with my cows for a show next week.” He stumbled over his words and then didn’t give her time to reply, “But if you’re probably busy and have better-”

“I’d love to!” She said with a happy smile.

“Oh. Wow. Yeah that would be great! But you don’t have to, if you don’t want to.”

“No. I don’t mind at all. I’ve always wanted to work with cows.” She smiled and then continued. “I have two horses and some other animals, but that’s it. Maybe one day I could take you to see them.”

“Yeah. That would be Awesome! I ‘d really like that.

A distant yapping interrupted their conversation.

“Oh my gosh!!!” Jaime exclaimed. ” Annie!! I set her down !”

The two ran towards the yapping. They re- entered the barn and searched frantically  for the puppy.

“This way.” Lance yelled as he pointed towards a secluded aisle of the barn.

When they  came around the corner, they found Annie had trapped a cat in the corner and was trying to play with it. The cat didn’t have the same feelings and was hissing and striking out at the pup with it’s claws.

“Annie!!” Jaime yelled. The puppy looked up and happily wagged it’s way over to Lance and her. “Bad girl!” Jaime felt very angry at her pet.

“She sure likes to get into trouble, doesn’t she?” Lance said as he reached down to pet Annie.

At that moment, Jaime’s phone rang. She felt panicked, but pulled the phone out of her hip pocket. She hadn’t realized how long she’d been  gone.

“Hello?” She said answering the phone. Lance pretended to be messing with Annie but really he was straining to hear the phone conversation. He tried to make it out but he could only hear Jaime speaking.

“Well, Annie got loose and I had to to chase her.” *Pause* “I was talking to the boy who caught her for me, and he was fixing her collar…………it broke on some fence.” *Pause* “Yeah. I’m on my way home now……..alright, bye.”

She eagerly hung the phone up and slipped it into her pocket again. “It was my mom. I’d better be getting home.”

“Alright. See you tomorrow?”

“Sure. What time?”

“Anytime. Well…..I……I could give you my number and you could just text me when you can come. Is that okay?”

Jaime felt a little nervous. He’s going to give me his number? She thought to herself. “Yeah. that’s great.” She tried to act calm but really she was too excited for words.

Lance told her the number slowly as she typed it into her phone. When they finished, they said goodbye again and Jaime started down the drive toward home. Although she felt a unexplained happiness in her heart, that feeling still rested in her. What was it? Why did she feel this way? I’m happy but unhappy all at once. Why? What’s wrong with me?