Jennifer Jackson reached up to grab the saddle horn, stuck her left boot into the stirrup and swung herself easily into the saddle. She took a moment to adjust the brim of her hat and tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear before urging her tall chestnut mare into an easy canter up the gravel driveway. Settling herself easily into the saddle she allowed herself to relax and enjoy the warm breeze on her face and the gentle rocking of the horse beneath her. High above her a red-tailed hawk made slow lazy circles in the bright blue sky and a meadowlark sang out from its perch on the fence post at the corner of the pasture near the road.
When they reached the road Jennifer turned her horse to the west and continued at a run for about half a mile before reining the horse in and slowing to a walk.
“Good girl, Diamond,” she said leaning forward to pat the horse gently on the neck. “We should do this more often don’t you think?” There was no indication from Diamond that she cared one way or another so they continued on in silence. Presently the mare pricked up her ears and flared her nostrils. Jennifer looked ahead to see another rider, approaching in the distance.
She raised a hand and waved and could just make out the other rider’s wave in return. Urging her horse into a run once again they quickly made up the distance and a few minutes later the two riders had reined in their horses and were leaning over to give each other a hug.
“It’s so good to see you Kendra!” Jennifer was obviously pleased to be in her best friend’s company once again, and Kendra clearly felt the same way. They drew back and looked at each other, smiling.
“I love your hat!” said Kendra. “It’s totally cowgirl!”
“I know!” Jennifer laughed. “And it matches my boots! Alan got it for me for my birthday. I never get to wear it though, because where would I?”
“You could wear it to Whiskey Dix,” said Kendra.
“Ugh,” said Jennifer. “That would mean I’d have to go to Whiskey Dix, and that ain’t gonna happen.”
Kendra laughed and reined her horse around so they were facing the same direction. “Where shall we ride?” she asked.
“Down to the river?” asked Jennifer. “It’s only a couple of miles if we cut across country along Peterson’s fence. I assume Peterson still drives along there, so we can ride on the tire tracks.”
“Pretty sure he does,” said Kendra. Nudging the horses forward they set out at a brisk walk.
“It seems like forever since I saw you,” said Kendra, turning in her saddle to look at Jennifer. “I have so many questions. How’s city life treating you?”
Jennifer thought about that for a second.
“Life is treating me OK,” she said. “But the city sucks.”
“Really?” Kendra sounded doubtful. “I’d love to try living in the city for a while. It’s so boring out here.”
“Dude!” said Jennifer. “You should totally come live with me!”
“Yeah right,” said Kendra. “How long do you think we could live together before we’d be wanting to kill each other?”
“I don’t know,” said Jennifer. “Two weeks?”
“About that,” said Kendra. “Maybe three.”
“Well, you could live with me for two weeks and six days then,” said Jennifer.
“Yeah, ’cause that makes a lot of sense,” said Kendra. “I take it you’re not majoring in logic at the university.”
“Logic isn’t part of the agricultural curriculum,” said Jennifer. “But seriously. Next fall. We’ll get an apartment in Fort Richmond and you can give the city a try.”
“I’ll have to get a job,” said Kendra.
“Not a job,” said Jennifer. “You’ll have to do what all young people have to do nowadays to survive. Get three part-time minimum-wage jobs with no benefits and crappy hours. It’ll be fun! You’ll see!”
“Well, when you put it that way…” said Kendra.
“I knew I could talk you into it,” said Jennifer.
“You’re my worst friend,” said Kendra. “You talk me into horrible things.”
“But it’s a deal, right?” said Jennifer. “You’ll do it? Your parents will love me forever!”
“That’s true,” said Kendra. “They’ll probably love me more too.”
“You know what I call that?” asked Jennifer.
“No,” said Kendra. “What?”
“I call it a win-win,” said Jennifer. A ground squirrel dashed across the road in front of them, but the horse paid no mind.
“Two weeks and six days,” said Kendra.
“We’ll just see how it goes,” said Jennifer.