Karen walked out into the blazing August sun. She smiled to see the horses grazing contentedly in the fields, swishing their tails at the bugs and stomping the ground occasionally, as if to remind strangers or newcomers that it was their grass to eat. She brushed a fly off her top and walked over to the water spigot. Her hand grasped the handle, turning it, and she dunked her face into the stream of water spilling down to get a drink. After quenching her own thirst, she wiped her mouth with her wrist and filled a nearby bucket to the brim with cold water. She turned the handle again, until the water came only in drops, and picked up the bucket. She carried it through the field, stopping at each horse and letting them have a drink. When she reached the bay near the peach tree, she took an extra minute to stay with the horse. It was her favorite horse, Calla, the most spirited filly of them all at Piping Greens. She cooed softly to the horse, then swung her long leg over Calla's back. Karen tapped Calla with her bare feet and grabbed the horse's coarse black mane. The filly began to trot, and the two went smoothly across the perimeter of the paddock. Karen's hair flew back as the horse picked up speed. Her hair was a golden blond, contrasting beautifully with her brown eyes and tanned skin.
How I loved to watch her ride, from my seat halfway up a peach tree. I grinned and grabbed a peach. As I bit into it, all of the luscious juice streamed into my mouth and filled my head with memories of my own horse, Bosa, who I had owned two—or was it three—years ago. She was an old mare, nineteen or so. She was an Appaloosa, a big brown Appaloosa with grayish-white spots on her rear and a long blaze on her nose. She looked rather like me, dark and freckled, with big brown eyes. We had more in common than looks, too. We both were very eager about getting our own way, and it made it quite a challenge to ride her. Yet it was those times when she threw me off or refused a jump that made me remember her so fondly.
There was the time when we came to a bridge, and I urged her forward, but she stayed put. I urged again, and still she did not move. Finally, she took one quick step, then bucked me into the water. I could remember so clearly the look on Karen's face when she pulled me out of the stream. It was a look of sheer bliss, laughter, joy, and any other words that would appear on a list of when a girl sees her sister in a stream with a riderless horse nearby.
Then there was the time I rode her to a restaurant. I tied her up outside and went in. Nearly twenty minutes later the door opened and in marched Bosa, feeling competent and proud. I could almost swear she was grinning.
The strongest memory, however, was the day we parted. It was early February, the first snow of the year. One of our best studs, Parker, had been put down, so the year had been financially bad. My father decided that we would have to sell our two leisure horses, Troy and Bosa. I had been heartbroken. Some stout man came in a big gray horse van. He took Troy. Then a woman came in a green horse van. It was a small stall, but the hay smelled fresh and the water was cold. I led Bosa in, kissed her neck and let the woman close the back and drive away, while tears rolled down my cheeks . . .
I was suddenly awoken by Karen tapping my shoulder. I opened my eyes. A long stream of peach juice was streaming down my chin. I licked my lips and we laughed.