The Jacksons – for May. 7, 2009

Soft clouds hung lazily in the sky above the grey-brown landscape of early spring. A meadowlark flew from its perch on a fence post beside the old dirt road, a yellow flash in the sun that settled quickly on another post further on, and a moment later its bright song echoed across the field.

The two girls riding their horses at a slow walk on the hard-packed tire tracks of the road paid little attention, but laughed and talked with all the carefree ease of the young and relatively innocent. Jennifer Jackson and Kendra Toews were enjoying the long-awaited spring and the coolness of the day did nothing to diminish their enjoyment.

“It is so fantastic to be out here again,” said Jennifer happily. “I thought winter would never end!”

“No kidding!” Kendra agreed laughing brightly. “What’s that saying everybody always uses? Everything that ends well…”

“All’s well that ends well, silly,” said Jennifer. “I don’t think they say that about winter though. Then it would be more like ‘all’s well that ends slowly.’”

Kendra laughed again. “This year for sure,” she said.

The meadowlark took off as the horses came up alongside the fence post it had perched on a minute earlier, and landed again on the next post along the road.

“Crazy bird,” said Jennifer. “But the best birdsong in the world.”

“Oh I don’t know,” said Kendra. “My Uncle John had a parrot that sang God Save the Queen. That was pretty nice too.”

It was Jennifer’s turn to laugh. “I don’t know,” she said. “If that meadowlark suddenly let fly with the chorus of God save the Queen, that would just be too freaky.”

A rabbit hopped across the road ahead of them and stopped to nibble on the green shoots of grass trying to poke through the brown covering of last year’s growth in the shallow ditch.

“Let’s see how close we can get,” whispered Kendra and Jennifer nodded. They rode in silence; the rabbit stopped chewing as the horses came up, but didn’t bother to move.

“I love how animals aren’t afraid of you when you’re on a horse,” said Jennifer turning in the saddle to look at the rabbit, which had resumed munching as they passed.

They rode in silence for a minute before Kendra spoke.

“So you finally told your parents about Bobby?” she said.

Jennifer made a face. “I didn’t exactly tell them,” she said. “They kind of figured it out on their own.” She paused. “My mom and dad are surprisingly bright,” she added.

Kendra chuckled. “Sucks to be you,” she said. “So how did they take the news?”

Jennifer shrugged. “Pretty well I guess. They’re ticked about my report card.” She paused again. “The weird thing is, I think they would have been more upset about Bobby if they hadn’t been so upset about the report card. It’s as if messing up my grades actually made the whole thing work out better or something.”

“That is weird,” said Kendra. “So what would have happened if your report card had been fine and then your parents found out about you and Bobby?”

Jennifer gave that a moment’s thought. “They’ve always had a rule that we couldn’t date till we were 16 so they would have been furious and probably tried to make me stop seeing him. But now they’re letting me keep seeing him, as long as I get my grades back up.”

“So, will you?” Kendra wanted to know. “What? Get my grades up or keep seeing

him?” Jennifer grinned. Kendra laughed. “Either one,” she said. “Well I have to get my grades up,” said

Jennifer, “because I refuse to spend four years in high school. And I’ll keep on seeing Bobby because I really like him and now I sort of have permission.”

There was another brief silence.

“So,” said Kendra, “I guess you didn’t tell them quite everything then.”

“Well, duh,” said Jennifer.

“So what exactly did you tell them?” asked Kendra.

“I told them everything I thought they’d figure out anyway,” said Jennifer. “I just left some things out that they didn’t ask about.”

“I wonder if parents know that there’s always things they don’t know,” said Kendra.

“Probably,” said Jennifer. “Anyway, it’s all good. They know enough.” She reined her horse around suddenly. Kendra did the same. Jennifer looked at her friend and grinned. “Race you home?”

Kendra laughed. “No you won’t,” she said, and a moment later the horses were flying neck and neck down the road, hooves pounding, tails streaming in the wind, the girls urging them on. As the hoof beats died away in the distance, the rabbit hopped slowly back across the road looking for greener grass, and in the stillness, the meadowlark sang again.

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