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Dream of Tomorrow

Alex woke up in the middle of the night. The city’s usual noises of nigh
t shift workers going home, very drunk winos yelling for more booze, and stray d
ogs barking filled her ears almost immediately. She wiped her forehead of the co
ld sweat. Her dream was still fresh in her mind.
Someone was riding a big black stallion bareback with a halter through a
forest. The rider was dressed like a gladiator and there was an army behind the
m. An army that bore the Greek symbol Alpha on shields and on their armor. Only
the leader had a black horse. He had no speck of white on him, just like Bucepha
lus and his grandsire before him. The rider on the black horse leaned low on the
stallion’s neck and seemed to be one with the great beast.
That lasted for only a few seconds, then they galloped out of the forest
onto the sagebrush and white playas of the range. The army fell back and vanish
ed into thin air. The armor broke away to reveal Alex in her riding clothes and
her black hair mingling with the stallion’s mane. They rode over a hill and were
then riding down the long dirt path that once led to the Hoof Haven Ranch.
In the ranch yard the stallion slowed to a trot, a walk, and halted so s
moothly as though the stallion was the one who was in charge. Alex slipped from
his back and hit the ground with hardly a sound. She looked around and smiled.
There were horses in the ten-acre pasture, cattle in their own ten-acre
pasture where they waited before going to market, hens being fed by her mother,
and the dull red barn standing proud as ever. This was the home she once had. On
ly there was something wrong.
It wasn’t Alex’s mom who was feeding the chickens, it was Aunt Janet. Fi
nn was coming from the barn with Geoffry holding her hand. Duncan was hauling a
hay bale towards the horse’s pasture. Margie was riding Jumpy in from a ride on
the range. This wasn’t the way her home was when she grew up.
Aunt Janet hardly ever visited and when she did, she never helped with t
he chores, Margie, Finn, and Geoffry had never been to the ranch and Duncan had
only house chores. Alex turned to Bucephalus. He was a standing a few feet away
with some mares and foals behind him. A harem of his own. This was the point whe
n Alex forced herself to wake up.
Finn chuckled once Alex finished explaining her dream. “What’s so funny?
” she asked annoyed.
“You never realize that your name is Alexandra and you named your horse
Bucephalus?” Alex rolled her eyes. “Alexander was the one who named his horse. T
he two of you are the new King and his War Horse. Your dream means that Bucephal
us will help you get your ranch back, but he’ll still be wild at heart and be th
e dominate horse on the ranch.” Finn explained as she tightened the cinch on a c
reamy pale palomino gelding.
“Maybe so,” Alex put the bridle on Jumpy for Margie to be ready to ride.
“but he lived on the range for the last year and a half. He was so close to the
age when he’d start gathering his own harem.”
“I’d say that means you should kept your word and let him go once you ge
t the ranch back. The fact that he had moved away from you in your dream, to me,
means that you did let him go and he started his own family.” Geoffry said from
the fence munching his lunch. “How will he help you get your ranch back up and
running?”
“Hey, you promised.” Alex snapped.
“This is your dream I’m talking about.” Geoffry said with a wry face. He
straightened it out and looked at Finn. “Why do you think we were holding hands
?”
“I’d say good friends.” Finn paused and turned to Alex. “Were we laughin
g?”
“No.” Alex shook her head. Finn sighed in relief.
“Maybe, Geoffry’s got a point. It could be a prophetic dream. You get th
e ranch back, Geoffry and I help with the ranch chores, your aunt helps with hou
se chores, and your cousin gets her wish to work on your ranch.” Finn finished.
“So why was Jumpy there?” Then she got an idea. “Wait. There was about 2
0 mares behind Bucephalus. It’d take him years to get that many. What if Jumpy m
eant that Song Jump will be on the ranch, or another one of his foals?”
“Could be.” Geoffry shrugged. “Though I don’t see why dad would give you
Song. She’s showing some good qualities of a race horse. Always running and jum
ping, she never takes a break until she naps or feeds.”
An idea popped into Alex’s mind. What if there was an underlying meaning
to her dream? Bucephalus was the son of a race horse. He inherited his father’s
legs for speed. That was the faint idea that had been forming in her mind from
the start.
“Absolutely not.” Mr. Ganger said. “That horse trusts you, I agree, but
you’ll never get a halter, let alone a saddle, on him.”
“He’s seen me ride his mother. He was in the arena with her so she would
n’t worry about him. Bucephalus is also King Philip’s son.” Alex got Mr. Ganger
to show her that his brown eyes go wide as saucers.
“King Philip? The big stallion that stayed with his rider when he fell o
ff?” Mr. Ganger stood. “That horse was just put out to stud just last year.”
“I’ll get a halter on him. Racing season doesn’t start until September.
That’s plenty of time for him to get used to the saddle.”
“Not enough for him to get used to a rider.” Mr. Ganger argued. “I’ve he
ard of miracles between humans and horses before. Your cousin and Jumpy are a go
od example. She’s gotten real good in the last few days.”
“Bucephalus and I share a bond that comes second to what he shared with
his mother. I was there the morning he was born and everyday to watch him grow.
His mother trusted me not to hurt him and he trusts me. Please Mr. Ganger, this
could be the closest thing he gets to running wild on the range.”
Mr. Ganger thought a few moments. When he held his finger up to answer t
he phone rang. He answered it. Alex waited and thought of Bucephalus. Sure, he t
rusted her, but she hardly spent time with him for him to trust her enough to ev
en pet him. That would require her full time at work, at least.
When she heard the phone receiver click, she came back to the real world
. “That was your brother. He said that his friend was looking for a young horse
fit for racing. She wants to break it to the saddle.”
“Break? But that won’t work.” Alex bit her lip. She had automatically th
ought of the way Darrel had looked at Bucephalus two weeks ago. “Why does she wa
nt an unbroken horse?”
“Who knows, but how’s about this? If Bucephalus is the only horse she wa
nts, I’ll only let her have him, if you gentle him. You’re the only one, other t
han your younger brother, who hasn’t been hurt by that horse. Darrel just called
to say his friend is coming over to take a look around here.” Then Mr. Ganger e
xcused her back to work.
From living with horses all her life, Alex had learned to fill her mind
with the present and worry about the future when she could rest from work. Margi
e and Jumpy were pretty good together. In fact Jumpy danced as he moved around t
he arena. His eyes rolled to show the whites in a way that said he was glad to b
e ridden again and watched at the same time.
Once the lesson was over, a dark red Ford Mustang parked by the office.
A woman with blonde hair in a tight bun on top of her head in a very serious bla
ck business suit and thin-framed glasses got out. The dangling gold earrings sor
t of ruined her image, but still Alex knew at once that this was the friend Darr
el had talked about. In the same instant Alex decided that she didn’t like this
woman.
She finished putting Jumpy away and went back to say good-bye to Margie
as her aunt drove off. Instead the tangerine pick-up’s engine was off and Aunt J
anet was pacing outside the office. “Is everything alright Aunt Janet?” Alex ask
ed walking over to her as Margie went to wait in the car.
“I hope so. I just saw my high school nightmares come back when I arrive
d.” Janet said in a nervous tone.
Alex looked at the blue door of the office. “Do you know that woman?”
“Know her?” Alex turned to her aunt. Her voice had raised an octave. Ale
x knew that her aunt was really nervous now, she did the same thing soon before
her wedding when Alex was only six and before finding out she was pregnant with
Margie three years later. “She insisted that I stay and see which horse she’d ch
osen to take with her to her private ranch to train.”
Just then the door opened and out stepped the blonde haired woman. She s
miled at Alex in a way that made her want to run. “You must be Alex. Would you b
e so kind as to walk with me and my ‘friend’ to see my new horse?”
Alex’s face paled. She’d chosen Bucephalus.
“In addition that I pay him your paycheck for renting you every week. He
said even you don’t own the horse.” Then she turned to Janet. “Why are you here
, by the way?”
Janet cleared her throat. “I came to pick up my daughter from her riding
lesson with her cousin.” Janet jerked her chin at Alex.
“Your niece? This beautiful young thing whose hair is the same color as
the stallion?”
Alex corrected her. “Actually, he’s still a colt.”
“Whatever. Starting tomorrow when my foreman comes to deliver the tack a
nd training equipment, you will work for me. Understand?” Alex nodded.
“Can I at least know your name?” Alex asked as politely as she could.
The woman smiled in embarrassment. “Of course, how rude of me. I’m Halle
y Janos, of Janos Equine Needs.”
Alex went like a deer in headlights. “You own J.E.N.?”
“I do. You will be using my tack to break that mustang to saddle. I don’
t care how you do it, I want him ready to race exactly two weeks before the raci
ng season begins.” Halley went straight to Bucephalus’ pen with Alex and Janet i
n tow.
“There, isn’t he magnificent Janet?” Halley asked.
Janet was awed by Bucephalus as well, but she stayed silent.
“I know, there are no words good enough for him. He’s perfect. A wild sp
irit, he’s always going around the pen, and he’s big with muscles to boot.” Hall
ey said.
Alex wanted keel over and shrivel up. The way this woman was talking abo
ut Bucephalus was like an act. She couldn’t stand it.
“Take a good look, Janet. You’ve lost this beauty, just like you lost yo
ur scholarship.” Halley jerked her chin to the sky and went to her car.
“I’m sorry I never told you Alex, honey.” Janet said once the red car wa
s off the grounds. “She’s the one who made my life a living nightmare in high sc
hool.”
“She also owns the store that we bought all our tack from and gave hay t
o. She’s one of those responsible for not paying for the hay she got.” Alex’s an
ger simmered white hot just below the surface. In an answer to her thoughts, Buc
ephalus gave a low threatening neigh.
Alex arrived at 6:30 the next morning. No one was around but the night w
atchmen. Some horses looked up at her and went back to dozing. The round pen was
cast in dark shadows, Alex couldn’t see Bucephalus anywhere. She clucked to him
and got an annoyed snort in return.
“Sorry Beauty.” She said using his nickname. “Can I come in, boy?”
Though she couldn’t see him, she sensed that he raised his head and flic
ked his ears in her direction. Alex tightened her grip on the nylon halter she h
ad saved from the ranch. It was brand new back then and the very last thing her
dad had bought for when Bucephalus would be saddled for the first time.
Only now, he hadn’t worn a halter in a long time let alone a bridle, wit
h a bit. She knew this would be harder since he was wild at heart now.
Alex relaxed and climbed onto the fence. “Hey boy. Pretty boy.” She croo
ned to him. She heard his hooves move across the soft dirt in a slow walk. “You
want company?”
Bucephalus’ answering nicker came closer than she expected. She was so s
urprised that she fell off the fence and the halter when sailing in the air. In
the dying starlight and rising sun she saw it land right next to Bucephalus’ lef
t hind hoof. He just lifted his hoof on its point and turned his head toward it.
Alex mentally kicked herself. She was just thankful the colt was still t
ired and didn’t cause any commotion. She got up, climbed on the fence, and reach
ed out for Bucephalus. His velvet lips and prickly whiskers came to her palm. Sh
e heard him sniff to take in her scent, then he lipped her hand.
“Good boy. You’re really smart for your age.” Alex crooned. Bucephalus n
ickered and pulled at her jacket sleeve. “Okay, okay. I’ll come in.”
Careful as if she were on a fragile ledge, Alex climbed over the gate. S
he looked around for the halter and found it was still by Bucephalus’ hoof. She
placed a light hand on his shoulder and gave him a smile. “You remember, don’t y
ou pretty boy?”
Bucephalus nuzzled her neck and blew in her hair.
“You’re sweet for a wild horse.” Alex said. She patted Bucephalus all th
e way to his flank. “I won’t hurt you. I’m just gonna pick up something.” She sq
uatted down slowly and reached for the halter.
Bucephalus snorted and used his leg to kick the halter away. Astonished,
Alex stood and looked at him. He put on an innocent face that said What? I didn
’t do a thing.
Alex gave a quiet laugh. “You even have a sense of humor. Now can you st
ay put, please?” She patted his back. Bucephalus tossed his forelock and looked
at her.
For some reason, she trusted him. She just turned her back and retrieved
the halter. When she turned around, Bucephalus was still where she had left him
. Then the image of all those mares from her dream appeared behind him. Bays, so
rrels, a buckskin, and a white and coffee brown paint who stood closest to him.
Tucked at her side was a little black and white foal. He had the same dished hea
d as Bucephalus, but the same round barrel and delicate legs of the mare.
Alex blinked a few times and the image disappeared. Bucephalus looked at
her confused. “Sorry boy. It’s this dream of mine.”
The colt arched his neck and looked at her questioningly.
“I dreamed that you had a big harem of beautiful mares and adorable foal
s. You stood before them as their king.” Bucephalus bobbed his head and lifted i
t higher each time. “That’s right, you are a king.”
Bucephalus half-reared and walked over to her. Her nudged the hand that
held the halter. “This was bought for you. I just wish this was easy.” The black
colt looked at her with wide eyes. “You wear this on your head.”
That was it, Bucephalus turned and walked away. Alex sighed. “It won’t h
urt and you can still eat with it on.” He snorted at her, saying that he didn’t
care. When she took a step closer to him he shook his head.
Ain’t gonna happen.
Alex sighed again. This was gonna be a while. A long while.