Scarletts Farmhouse Adventures: The Runaway Stallion - Part 2

15 Juli 2015 Pojok Cerita   |    Vania Cheryl Antono

The sky settled from a pink hue to a later orange-red hue as Scarlett watched on from the porch of the house. She was sitting in one of the wooden rocking chairs with Buss, the brown hound, by her feet. Puss, the sour cat was doing noisily scratching on the porch steps, testing Scarlett’s patience. But those were the least of her concerns.

It had been a few hours since the horse’s escapade and Scarlett had notified a devastated Uncle Ben and also the doughnut-loving sheriffs of the countryside.

Now, Scarlett was waiting for Aunt Tara to come home so she could tell her Aunt the horrible news. And Aunt Tara had been so nice to her. Scarlett felt her stomach churn and her brows furrowed, as if regretting.

Even if the view had been breath-taking, Scarlett hardly paid attention to it. Her eyes were looking straight into the driveway nestled between 2 tall hedges full of sharp thorns. At any moment, Aunt Tara and her sky blue lorry would suddenly appear there and Scarlett braced herself for the truth.

And just as she predicted, the sound of the lorry’s geese-like honk pierced Scarlett’s ear as it moved in the driveway. The eye-blinding, yellow lights of the lorry dimmed and it stopped.

After a rumble from the front seat, Aunt Tara jumped out of the car, her cowboy boots touching the ground. Dust and dirt filled the air.

Moving towards the back, Aunt Tara unloaded a bunch of her items-including a few gallons of fresh milk, sacks of flour and coffee powder. Scarlett could smell the coffee powder even from several meters away.

Thinking that this was the right time to tell Aunt Tara the bad news, Scarlett stood up from her rocking chair, waking up Buss. Scarlett looked down and patted Buss as an apology, somehow managing to not tumble over it despite her wobbly legs.

Scarlett’s fingers practically shook as she approached Aunt Tara who was busy unloading her items. Aunt Tara looked tired but her eyes were still twinkling like the stars that were starting to appear in the navy blue sky.

"Scarlett, you won’t believe how long it took me to barter for these fresh milk. Then, I had to go to Mrs. Florence’s house to get some flour and Mr. Lesley’s coffee shop for some coffee powder. It’s really a tiring day, as I just had to-"

"Aunt Tara?" Scarlett interrupted. She tried to sound brave but her cracked voice showed that she wasn’t feeling so.

"Yeah? What’s wrong?" Aunt Tara replied, now taking a break and looking at Scarlett while wiping sweat of her forehead.

Scarlett made no sound. Silence greeted them and finally, Aunt Tara realized that something was really wrong. She knelt down so that her eyes were at the same level as Scarlett’s and yet, Scarlett looked away.

"Scarlett, if there is something wrong, you’ve to tell me. No matter how bad it is, you are my niece and I’ll still care for you. You do know that, right?" Aunt Tara pep-talked and Scarlett met her eyes. She knew Aunt Tara was telling the truth.

Taking a deep breath, words suddenly poured out of her like water rushing out of a broken dam, "I went to the stables after doing my chicken egg-collecting duties and I saw this magnificent horse with a light yellow mane. I went closer to it and didn’t mean to open the door. It just happened and the horse rushed out. And I lost it. Before you say anything or get mad Aunt Tara, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for not being responsible and please don’t hate me..."

Aunt Tara moved a few steps back in reflex to Scarlett’s outburst but she didn’t look upset at all, she just looked surprised. As Scarlett quieted down, Aunt Tara began, "Oh, Scarlett. I would never be mad at you. I’m just glad you’re not hurt or anything. Now let’s go inside and get ourselves a warm cup of chocolate."

Scarlett’s jaw dropped open. This was clearly not the response from Aunt Tara that she was expecting. But as Aunt Tara walked to the front door, Scarlett followed her in.

Scarlett sat on the kitchen counter as Aunt Tara handed her a warm chocolate drink in a ceramic mug. Scarlett just took a sip when she replayed the whole ‘horse escaping’ event in her mind and a fat teardrop fell down the side of her cheek.

Scarlett sniffed and Aunt Tara dropped her mug on the countertop. She embraced Scarlett in a loving hug and Scarlett actually wondered if this would feel like her mother’s hug if her mother was still alive.

"Look, Scarlett, it isn’t your fault. It was an accident, was it?" Aunt Tara asked her niece who scrunched up her nose to refrain from crying harder, "Don’t worry. The sheriff is bound to find Honey sooner or later."

"Honey?" Scarlett queried in surprise.

"You know, the horse that escaped. I named it Honey because well, you saw her fur didn’t you?" Aunt Tara explained in a soothing voice. Scarlett could only nod slowly.

"Now, it’s a bit late. Why don’t you go to be?" Aunt Tara prompted gently as she saw Scarlett smother a yawn.

"Okay, I guess you’re right. I’ll just go after I finish the chocolate." Scarlett gave another yawn.

In a few minutes, the chocolate was finished, the lights were already turned off and Scarlett was already wearing her white nightdress with silvery buttons that shimmer in the dark.

Scarlett crawled up to her bed to claim her much-needed beauty sleep and snored through the whole night. She was even too tired to write in her diary or say another good night to Aunt Tara.

Soon, morning fell and Scarlett felt that she had only slept for a few minutes. The cocky rooster at the back of the farmhouse that guarded the chicken coop crowed loudly, signaling the beginning of the day. Scarlett’s eyes fluttered open but she closed them again and turned to the side, her poofy pillow covering both her ringing ears.

She hated waking up in the morning. By the time the sun’s rays shone through her bedroom window, Scarlett groaned but didn’t move. But when she heard a horse’s neigh from the window, Scarlett remembered what had happened and she jolted awake.

She ran towards the bathroom and prepared for breakfast. Hopefully after that, Scarlett could come with Aunt Tara and Uncle Ben to the sheriff’s office just a few minutes away from the farmhouse.

Scarlett decided to wear a pair of jeans as well as a long-sleeved, navy blue and white gingham blouse. However, Scarlett rolled up her long sleeves until it reached her elbow only.

"That’s better." Scarlett sighed to herself as she looked at the mirror. Then, she ran down the creaky stairs to meet her Aunt and Uncle.

"Morning Aunt Tara, Uncle Ben," Scarlett greeted before sitting down at the table.

"Good day to you Scarlett." Aunt Tara replied, saying it just as cheerful.

"What up, Scarlett?" Uncle Ben said seconds after and Aunt Tara shook her head disapprovingly.

In front of her were pancakes, sausages, bacon, omelets and a cup of coffee for Uncle Ben, who was busy reading a newspaper. Aunt Tara was pouring maple syrup over her stack of pancakes. She also added a sprinkle of sugar on top. Scarlett eyed it with envy as she tried to make her own pancake, but this time with whipped cream from the fridge.

"Awesome!" Scarlett exclaimed to herself in delight as she dug in her breakfast meal with gusto. "So, how about the sheriff’s office?"

"Well, we will be visiting it after this, right Ben?" Aunt Tara reminded Uncle Ben.

"Huh?" Uncle Ben looked up from his newspapers, "Oh, right. Yeah. Of course."

"But you won’t be coming." Aunt Tara said grimly to Scarlett.

"What?" Scarlett interrupted and added, "Why?"

"Children are not allowed in the sheriff’s office." Aunt Tara informed simply with Uncle Ben nodding in agreement.

"Here we go again." Scarlett rolled her eyes, "I’m not a children anymore. I am a teenager, Aunt Tara."

"Honestly, children like you these days are so impulsive." Uncle Ben chided from behind his wall of newspaper.

"Honestly yourself." Scarlett replied, face pouting a little.

"Scarlett, behave!" Aunt Tara warned, "I will not tolerate that behaviour in this house."

"Yes, Aunt Tara." Scarlett mumbled. Aunt Tara actually has two sides and Scarlett knew both of them very well-one is her cheerful side where she’s very tolerant and kind, the other is her serious side where she’s strict and intolerant.

And right now, her intolerant behaviour is kicking in.

"It’s just that you said to me the other day that I could come and now, you’re saying another thing. It just makes me feel a bit upset." Scarlett couldn’t help adding.

"Well, I’m sorry for giving you false hope but I really couldn’t say that you couldn’t come, knowing that you were crying at that moment, Scarlett." Aunt Tara apologized sincerely, so sincere that Scarlett nearly believed her.

But through her frustrated side, Scarlett refused to see reason and she stalked off to be in her room, leaving Aunt Tara to call after her.

"I should go after her-" Scarlett could hear Aunt Tara start but she didn’t care about what her Aunt was going to say anymore.

"Leave her be, Tara. She needs time to cool down." The echoes of Uncle Ben’s voice could be heard from Scarlett’s room just as she slammed the door.

Scarlett sat at the corner of her bed, eyes listlessly staring the green leaves of the tree beside her window. She felt so muddled up that she could just crawl into a small hole and hide there forever.

Scarlett decided that this was the perfect time to write in her diary:

Dear Diary,

Yesterday, I accidentally let a horse named Honey escape from the stables. I didn’t mean to do it but it just happened. I finally managed to tell Aunt Tara and luckily during that time, Aunt Tara was on her cheerful side. I suppose that’s a good thing, right?
She comforted me and made me feel better, I suppose. Aunt Tara also told me that I could come with her to the Sheriff’s office for a meeting regarding Honey but turns out, she lied.
She didn’t want to tell me because she was afraid that I would cry again yesterday, well today, I feel like crying right now. I know its Aunt Tara’s right to take me there or not but I just feel that she sometimes treat me like a ditzy child rather than a mature teenager that could actually deal with things.
I’m thinking of venturing the plains near the farm in hopes of finding Honey while my Aunt and Uncle are away.Besides, what would I do in the farmhouse alone while they’re away?

Minutes passed by as Scarlett wrote in her diary alone in her locked room. Finally, from downstairs, Aunt Tara couldn’t hold it any longer and she went up to talk to Scarlett. But what she found was a locked door and no sound to be heard.

"Scarlett? I’ll be going now. I left some snacks in the kitchen countertop just in case you get hungry. Is there anything else you need me to buy while Uncle Ben and I are away?" Aunt Tara asked from outside Scarlett’s bedroom door.

Silence greeted Aunt Tara as she tried in vain to not look hurt. "I-I’ll be leaving now, Scarlett. Be careful and I’m sorry..." Aunt Tara’s words hung in the air as she left.

Scarlett peered through her window and through the corner of her eye, she could see Aunt Tara and Uncle Ben riding their lorry out the driveway. Scarlett sighed with sadness.

After a while of sulking, Scarlett got bored and she decided to go to the kitchen countertop for some of the snacks that Aunt Tara had mentioned. Scarlett looked at the butter cookies with colourful icings and felt her mouth water.

"I’ll just take a delicious cookie but this doesn’t mean that I’ll forgive Aunt Tara." Scarlett muttered to herself.

Now walking out the back door of the house, Scarlett stuffed herself with the last cookie in her palm and walked gingerly towards the plains. The plains was just a very, very wide field that had tall blades of grasses nearly as tall as Scarlett herself.

After walking for just about an hour, Scarlett felt lost in the midst of the tall grasses. Looking around, the grass looked like green knives sprouting out of the ground.

Scarlett was just about to give up and head back to the farmhouse when she heard a neigh. Her head swung to the direction where the noise had come from. Excitement zipped through her spine and Scarlett ran to the horse.

And in the middle of the clearing, Honey the runaway stallion could be seen. It was sniffing on some dandelions in front of it and Scarlett gasped. This was her chance to get the horse back and put an end to this problem.

Scarlett neared the horse with a tremendously increasing heart rate but she stood firm to the ground. "Honey...honey...come here...." Scarlett sing-songed, hoping that the horse would just come to her.

However, things weren’t what Scarlett expected it to be. Honey, seeing Scarlett, backed away as if knowing that its freedom would be taken away from it if it was captured.

"Honey, come here. I’ve got a carrot for you..." Scarlett tried again, this time by lying. Hearing the word ‘carrot’, the horse perked up and paid more attention to Scarlett who was smiling warmly at it.

Slowly and surely, after much coaching, the magnificent horse finally allowed Scarlett to touch it. Physically, the horse was alright, just a bit dirty and hungry after running away yesterday without any food or a safe shelter. So, Scarlett could relax a bit.

"Let’s go home and get your carrot..." Scarlett coaxed the horse and this time, the horse followed without hesitation. Scarlett managed to herd Honey back to its rightful place and as promised, she gave the biggest and fattest carrot she could find to give to Honey.

Honey neighed with delight and as it began to feast upon the carrot, Scarlett checked the door twice before leaving to tell her Aunt the good news. But she didn’t need to call her Aunt anymore, for she had already came home with Uncle Ben.

"Aunt Tara, Aunt Tara," Scarlett shouted as she ran from the stables to her Aunt’s lorry. Aunt Tara’s face was a bit grim so Scarlett guessed that the sheriff still hasn’t found her Aunt’s horse.

"What?" Aunt Tara asked, holding her breath for any bad news.

"I found Honey in the plains behind the farm and I managed to take him back to the stables. He’s fine now in the stables and I’m sorry for acting rude during breakfast a while ago." Scarlett explained everything breathlessly as Uncle Ben listened in quietly.

"I can’t believe that I didn’t think of that place before. I mean, I’ve checked the apple orchard as well as the corn fields y’all, but I didn’t even remember to go to the plains. Honey really loves the plains. How could I forget?" Aunt Tara said to everyone and also herself.

"Well, you certainly finished the problem you’ve started. Good job, Scarlett. We’re proud of you." Uncle Ben managed to say and Scarlett smiled.

"This is excellent news. I’ll just go check on Honey and if everything’s alright, I’m sure I can give you some horseback riding lessons some time." Aunt Tara offered kindly, her cheerful side back on.

"Yes. I would love to." Scarlett nearly shouted with joy.

Finally today, something good happened and maybe this new stroke of luck was how Scarlett’s days at the farm was going to be-full of adventure and trouble. Just the way Scarlett liked it.

(Penulis saat ini sekolah di SIS Kebun Jeruk)