by Anne, age 12
Here is a story I wrote for a contest.
Hope you enjoy it!!!!
Eleven-year-old Lexi Coulter propped her elbow up on the windowsill and gazed out the glass. The train’s motion made the outside scene appear like a sea of yellow blur instead of the golden hayfields that stretched out for miles. Lexis clutched at her stomach as the train made an unexpected lurch in its course.
Her father, who was sitting next to her browsing the newspaper, looked up at the sudden turn, “You all right, Lex?” he asked, nodding his head toward her arm tightly clutching her middle.
“I’m alright Papa,” Lexi answered looking into his gaze.
Lines of worry creased his forehead. “I know it’s been tough on you, Lex,” he said, pausing as he inhaled a deep breath, “first with Mama dying, and now this. It’ll be hard Hon, but you’ll make it through.” He leaned over and squeezed her arm.
Tears pushed up in her eyes at the mention of her departed mother. She turned back toward the window so Papa couldn’t see her watering eyes.
Oh Mama, why did you have to leave me? Lexi thought.
A picture of her mother flashed into Lexi’s mind: her laughing green eyes, her raven black hair twisted into a braid, tightly wrapped around her head, and her loving smile that had always caught every by-passer’s eye.
Lexi squeezed her eyes shut at the memory and fell back onto the padded cushion and then drifted to sleep to the taste of her own tears.
A sudden voice roused Lexi from her slumber. She opened her eyes to see a prim-faced conductor standing in the neighboring aisle. He gave a sharp nod at Lexi and then aimed his message in her father’s direction.
“I am to inform you that we will be arriving in Fresno shortly. You are to gather your belongings and then wait until the train has made a complete stop before departing.”
With another quick nod the conductor moved briskly on.
“Well, I guess I’d better get our things together,” Papa said as he arose to lift their belongings down from the overhead compartment.
As the train slowed down in front of the depot, Lexi once again peaked out the window. To her surprise, the station was bustling with excitement. Through the midst of the crowd, a young man leaning against the ticket booth caught her eye.
“You ready, Lex?” Papa asked from behind.
“Yeah,” She answered.
Lexi turned from the window and grabbed her carpet bag from the corner where it rested.
She hoisted it up onto her shoulder and then followed Papa down the aisle.
Once down on the platform, Papa scanned the crowd. His eyes lit up when they rested upon the young man spotted from the train. “There he is, Lex,” he said, pointing in his direction. “I haven’t seen Chad since he was twelve years old, but he has barely changed at all.” Papa let out a little chortle at his last comment and then began moving at a rapid pace towards the man.
“Chad!!” He cried as he gave him a hearty embrace.
“Jem, it’s been so long!!” Chad exclaimed returning the action.
As the two men stood exchanging conversation, Lexi studied a girl standing directly behind Chad. Lexi had not seen the girl from the train, but she now guessed that she was with Chad.
Papa’s voice suddenly broke into her thoughts. “Chad, I would like you to meet my little
girl, Lexi,” he said gesturing toward her.
“Pleased to meet you,” Lexi said, dropping a curtsy in Chad’s direction.
Chad gave her a little smile and then, turning to Papa, said, “You’ve got a mighty fine young girl there, Jem. Looks just like her mother.”
Lexi could feel blood rushing through her neck at the last compliment. She ducked her head and stared at her feet.
“Yeah, she does, doesn’t she?” Papa replied, looking at her with eyes of admiration.
Chad’s voice seemed to break Papa from his daze, “Say, Jem, Lexi, I totally forgot!! I’d like you to meet my sister, Andrea, we call her Andi for short.”
As if on cue, the girl, Andi, stepped out from behind her brother. “How do you do?” she asked, smiling impishly at Lexi.
“Well,” Chad boomed, “Let’s not stand around here chit-chatting all day! The supper’s waiting!”
Chad led the little group to the waiting buggy and they all piled in, Chad and Papa in the front, and Lexi and Andi in the back.
“So,” Andi inquired, “how old are you, Lexi? I’m fourteen.”
“I’m eleven,” Lexi responded.
Lexi felt Andi’s hand slip into her own and give it a tight squeeze.
“Oh Lexi,” she breathed excitedly. “I’m so glad you are going to stay with us for an entire week. We’re going to have so much fun! I can’t wait to show you my horse and teach you how to ride her!!”
Lexi paled. Her eyes widened and her stomach turned, “Ride a horse?” she whispered, “Oh no, not me, a terrible sickness always comes over my stomach whenever I even set my foot on a moving object. I will NEVER ride a horse!”
A hint of hurt washed over Andi’s face, but then it was gone the instant it came. “Oh, I’m sorry. Well, we’ll have fun anyway!!”
The rest of the hour-long journey quickly flew by with Andi’s constant jabbering. It seemed like they had just left the station when the buggy came to a full stop in front of the Carter residence.
Lexi stared up at the large, white hacienda house. How could anyone afford such a mansion? she wondered, awestruck by its beauty. Tall, spiraled pillars rose from the black tiles that were covering the wrap-around walkway. On top of the pillar stood a beautifully-crafted balcony. Colorful flowers sprinkled the grounds, each one well-watered and weeded.
Lexi looked up from her trance. The rest of the group was already several paces ahead of her. She hurriedly scrambled out of the buggy and caught up with the others.
As she stepped into the mansion, fear overtook her heart. The house seemed even larger on the inside than it did outside. Sunlight streamed in through a window above the door, striking a chandelier with its radiant beams.
Lexi promptly moved out from under the chandelier for fear of the chandelier coming tumbling down on her.
“Jem,” Chad said, proudly, “I’d like you to meet the rest of my family. This is my mother Elizabeth, my two brothers Justin and Mitch, and my sister Melinda.
He turned to his mother, “Mother, I would like you to meet my friend Jem and his daughter Lexi.”
A smile creased Elizabeth Carter’s face, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Jem, Lexi, We are quite pleased to have you stay with us.”
“For that I am very much obliged.”
“We are open any time. Andrea, perhaps you would like to show Lexi to her room? I’m sure she would like to freshen up a bit before supper.”
“Yes, Mother. Come along Lexi.”
Lexi looked at her father. He nodded at her, so she followed Andi down the hallway and up the stairway until they came to a closed door.
“Here is your room,” she said, swinging the door open. “I see Joselito has already brought up your bag so you should be good. My room is right next door, so if you need anything you can just ask me.”
She smiled at Lexi and then moved out the door, leaving Lexi alone.
Lexi peaked into the room, it was painted a deep blue. Lacy curtains hung from each of the four windows. A light green canopy bed sat in the corner. To the left of that stood a bureau with a wash bowl set on top.
She went over to her bag, pulled out a fresh dress, and quickly changed into it. After brushing and plaiting her hair, she went over to the waiting wash stand and washed her face and hands.
A sudden knock sounded at her door, “Lexi, are you ready for dinner?”
She pulled open the door to see Andi standing there.
“Well, here I am.”
“Good. I’m half-starved!”
The dinner that night was scrumptious. Fat, juicy steak, hot, flaky Biscuits, sweet, buttery corn, and bread pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins. The long train ride had made Lexi dreary, so she excused herself early from the table, staggered up the stairs and collapsed onto the bed, falling asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow.
“Lexi, Lexi, wake-up, wake-up.”
Alarmed, Lexi popped her head out of the covers, “What, is something wrong?”
It was Andi. “No, of course not. Hurry up and get dressed. I have a surprise for you!” she exclaimed, excitement ringing in her voice.
“ Okay, well, just a minute.”
Lexi slipped out of bed, and stumbled, bleary-eyed, over to the washstand. The cool water revived her. After drying off with a towel, she once again looked up at Andi. “Now, what did you want?”
“I said that I have a surprise for you!”
Lexi wrinkled her eyebrows. “I don’t really like surprises. They always seem to turn out bad.”
“ This is a good surprise. Come on, please?”
“Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to just look, but I want to tell my papa first.”
“I’ve already told him. In fact, my mother was the one who suggested it to me.”
“Alright, I’ll be ready in a jiffy.”
As Andi shut the door, Lexi pulled a dress out of her bag and slipped into it. In the hallway, she met the excited Andi who had a basket full of hot breakfast. Andi slipped an arm around her waist and led her outside to the barnyard.
“What are we doing here?” Lexi asked as Andi swung the barn door open.
“Well,” Andi answered, “I know you don’t like riding a horse alone, but what if I go along with you? You see, I haven’t been able to exercise my horse for awhile.” She paused as she brought out a cream-colored mare. “This, is my horse, Taffy.”
Lexi’s heart pounded. A sick feeling came over her stomach. She began backing away from the horse until she reached the barn door. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll just watch.”
Andi shrugged, “Okay, suit yourself!” She put her foot in the stirrup and pulled herself over the horse. “You sure you don’t want to go?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. I think I just want to take a walk.”
Lexi opened the barn door. She strode out and was instantly hit with a glare of sunlight. The sun had now risen high in the sky and the heat was intense.
Andi led her horse out of the barn. “I’ll be back soon. Oh, I almost forgot. Here is your breakfast.” She tossed Lexi a bundle tied up in a red-checkered cloth. “Have fun on your walk!” With that, she dug her heels into Taffy’s side and galloped away.
Lexi decided to go the opposite way of Andi, going around the barn and through the open fields. With every step she took, she felt more relieved to get away from the horse. Every time she closed her eyes she could see Andi sitting on her horse, her joy clearly evident on her face.
Thoughts swirled through her head. Why is Andi so happy all the time? It’s not fair! How can she be so confident on that horse when I run the first time I see it? Why am I always afraid of everything? Why, Why, Why?
The answer came to her the minute she asked, Because Andi has the courage to try.
Another question came to mind. How do I get the courage that she has?
Lexi contemplated for a moment. A line from a song that she used to sing in church came to mind, “In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land, the battle belongs to the Lord.”
“Jesus!!” she cried out loud, “He’ll give me courage!”
She bowed her head and prayed aloud, “Dear Jesus, please give me courage like Andi has, help me be like her, and not be afraid all the time. Thank you, Amen.”
Jesus will give me the–
A frightful whinney disturbed Lexi from her thoughts. She jerked her head up in time to see a horse galloping across the meadow, reigning up and shaking its rider to the ground. Lexis’s heart skipped a beat. The rider flying through the air was Andi. She broke into a frantic run.
“Andi!” she screamed. As Lexi looked at Andi’s limp body her heart began beating bravery, her veins flowing with courage.
I must get help, and fast!! she thought.
Lexi looked around: Taffy stood grazing nearby. Gathering all of her courage, she inched her way over to the horse. She put her foot in the stirrup, placed her hands over the horn and lifted her body over the saddle, just as she had seen Andi do. She then gently pressed her heels into the horse’s side, just as Andi had done.
“Go home, Taffy” Lexi commanded.
Taffy fell into a slow trot. Lexi took a deep breath and then pressed harder and harder and harder. Taffy was now galloping at full speed.
“Go home!!” Lexi urged again.
Taffy galloped through the meadow, past the creek, and past the peach orchard. She stopped in the barn yard of the ranch.
Lexi leaped off of Taffy and tore into the house, “Papa! Chad! Mrs. Carter!! Anyone!!” she screamed.
Chad appeared from the study.
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong, Lexi?” He asked, worry seeping through his voice.
“It’s Andi, she fell off her horse, she’s badly hurt,” Lexi rushed. “She’s in the meadow, past the creek.”
“Thank you Lexi. Justin! Mitch! Hurry up! Andi’s hurt!” He bellowed up the stairs.
Justin and Mitch stampeded down the stairs and followed Chad out the door.
Lexi sat down on the settee near the door. She wearily dropped her head in her hands and closed her eyes.
I did it! she thought. I overcame my fear! I rode a horse!
Lexi felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Papa. “I’m proud of you, Lex. You overcame your fear,and you saved Andi’s life. Mama would be proud too.”
Lexi smiled. She leaned her head on Papa’s shoulder and let out a breath. She had conquered the first battle. There would be many more, but with Jesus’ help she would succeed. Some of her worst fears were now behind her.