Some days are just worse than others, and today day was one of them.
On the first day of the second week of school, I left my backpack at home. I borrowed paper and pencils from Jen, but I didn't have my books. And it's not like my teachers know me well enough, yet, that they completely believed I did the homework.
And then, when Jen and I were sharing her lunch, I dropped my half of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my white skirt. An okay look if you're three years old, maybe, but not when you're in high school.
By the time I got off the bus, I didn't want to do anything but complain, but when Gram picked me up, she didn't seem to be listening .
And it was so hot.
"All I want to when we get home is drink a glass full of ice, with just a splash of lemonade," I told her.
"What a shame," Gram said, and then she Gram told me she'd defrosted the freezer and we had no ice cubes, yet/
Gram had barely stopped the car, and I was stomping toward the house, when I saw Ace trot out of the barn.
"Gram!" I yelled.
"Oh my goodness. Your dad was going to pull his shoes off for the winter --"
Winter! It was barely September!
" -- and had him tied in the barn. Seems like he's finally learned to untie knots as well as pick locks." Gram shook her head. "Well, you'd better go catch your horse."
I was tired and hot and cranky, but suddenly, none of that mattered.
Ace might look like an ordinary brown horse to most people, but I'll tell you the truth: he is full of mustang magic.
I couldn't stay mad when I looked at him.
Ace pranced toward me, neck so arched it looked like he was pushing the white star on his forehead. The sun made his neck so glossy, his BLM brand hardly showed and his black mane rose and fell like a crow's wing.
He slid to a perfect cowpony stop right in front of me, creating a dirt shower that made me cough.
"Your school clothes!" Gram sounded like she was in total despair, so I guess she hadn't noticed my white skirt was already messed up.
And I know she couldn't see Ace's eyes dancing, all brown and teasing, daring me to stay in a bad mood.
"I see you learned something new today?"
Ace answered by nudging my shoulder so hard, I stumbled out of one shoe.
Might as well kick off the other, I thought, and it went whirling over Ace's back just as my perfect mustang angled himself in my path, inviting me to climb on.
I grabbed the lead rope and a handful of mane and bounced onto his bare, dusty back. Ace's ears pricked up and he swung his head around in time to see Dad coming around the side of the barn with his hands on hips, looking hot and irritated.
My white skirt wasn't made for riding, but when Ace made his getaway, I hung on.
There was shouting going on behind us, but Ace was headed for La Charla, and the river's chitchat had never sounded sweeter.
A breeze swirled orange and gold leaves around us, and Ace slowed down, picking his way over round river rocks, and I remembered one of Dad's sayings.
It was, "There's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." Or something like that, and as Ace and I splashed into the river, I decided that went double for girls.