Mrs Wreatham sat in front of the bank of video monitors and again marvelled at the bizarre trusting nature of the youth of today. All you hear on the news are stories of children being snatched but she had done it so easily. They didn’t suspect a little old lady with a bag of liquorice allsorts. They all thought she was batty but if they took a sweet they knew she would go away. She knew some of them just threw the sweets away when her back was turned, and from her monitors she could see at least one of them had fed the sweets to the dog, but some of them ate the sweets. She currently had five active projects and that was enough for now. She checked her subjects and could see that Cally was horse riding tomorrow. Mrs Wreatham used to be an excellent rider in her youth but that was a long time ago now.
Cally arrived at the stables bright and early.
‘Cally you’re not due for another hour,’ called Mrs Smithson from the farmhouse.
‘I thought I could perhaps help you get ready. If that’s okay?’ Cally smiled.
‘I never turn down help but it might be a bit messy.’
‘That’s fine, anything I can do.’
Mrs Smithson put Cally to work. Cally started by topping up the horses’ water, fetched the saddles and even started mucking out whilst she was waiting for the rest of the group to turn up.
‘Thanks for all your help today Cally,’ Mrs Smithson smiled. ‘You can come again. The rest of the group are here now so you best get out to the yard and saddle up.’
The rest of the group of teenage girls were standing around waiting to be told what to do.
‘What happened to you Cally? You look like you slept in a stable.’ Jessica Smyth shouted at her. The rest of the girls laughed, glad to see that Cally would be the brunt of today’s snide remarks rather than any of them.
‘I’ve been helping out.’ Cally called back.
‘This is something the home makes us do Cally. It’s mandatory to turn us into better people. You’re not supposed to be helpful. Idiot.’ Jessica was obviously not looking forward to the day and had decided to take her nervousness out on someone. Cally would do.
‘Right girls,’ bellowed Mrs Smithson as she marched across the yard. ‘Everyone mount up, the stable hands will help you.’
Jessica was the last to mount and the problems she was having were definitely not softening her mood. Finally they set off at a steady pace across the field. Jessica was right at the back but Cally was riding like she was a natural. Cally held back and fell into step with Jessica.
‘You just need to relax a little,’ Cally offered Jessica a little advice. ‘He knows you’re tense and that’s why he’s not responding.’
‘Yeh like I’m going to listen to someone who smells of horse shit and whose done nothing but suck up all day,’ Jessica glowered at Cally, obviously not happy at being the only one who couldn’t ride.
Just then a shot rang out in the nearby field. Both Cally and Jessica’s horses reared up and whilst Cally managed to calm her’s down Jessica started shouting and flailing her arms about. Before anyone could do anything Jessica and her horse had shot off back down the field. Being at the back only Cally had seen what was going on so she swung her horse round and set off after Jessica. Chasing after Jessica, Cally smoothed out on her horse’s back and just let him go. The wind rushing through her hair was the most exhilarating feeling ever. Faster, faster, faster. Cally finally managed to catch up with Jessica and grabbed her reigns, pulling both horses to a stop just before the fence at the bottom of the field.
As Cally was getting her breath back Mrs Smithson rode up. ‘Cally that was a brilliant piece of riding, well done. Jessica you’re lucky Cally was there to stop you.’
‘Lucky, it was her who freaked the horse in the first place.’ Jessica looked shaken but she still wasn’t going to waste an opportunity to get Cally into trouble.
‘I heard the gunshot Jessica and I think it’s very unfair of you to try to get Cally into trouble like that. You can both head back to the stable and get those horses settled down.’
The next morning over breakfast the girls were still talking about how Cally had saved Jessica when Cally walked in. They all burst into a round of applause.
‘What was that for?’ Cally asked confused and still sleepy.
‘Saving Jessica’s life yesterday,’ Marissa answered.
‘What do you mean? I didn’t save Jessica’s life.’
‘Come on the way you stopped that horse, she would have fallen if you hadn’t got there and stopped it before that fence.’
‘Oh it was nothing.’ Cally decided she would take the glory even though she had no idea what they were talking about. She hadn’t even been riding the day before. Come to think of it she couldn’t remember doing anything the day before.
Mrs Wreatham sat down with her cup of coffee and reviewed the monitors. What should she do tomorrow? She felt an itch under her armpit and slid her free hand up her sleeve to see what was causing it. She slowly pulled out a long piece of straw, similar to that used in stables for bedding.