Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)
TITLE: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
By Ruth Neilson
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She almost didn't recognize herself, dressed in the heavy gray woolen shift the nuns called a dress, the heavy leather shoes, with her raven-black hair twisted into a bun that was perched like some buzzard on the top of her head. She hated this reflection and wanted to destroy it with one harsh movement of her hand as if she would in a stream. She learned the hard way the first time she gazed upon the reflection of herself on the wall that she couldn't destroy this reflection as easily. So, Ehawee made due with making faces at her reflection.
It was still early; the sun was just starting to greet the world once again. It was quiet; none of the other girls in the dormitory was awake yet. Ehawee carefully walked towards the window and gazed out, smiling softly down at the corral. A new horse had arrived, a gift for the school-allowing the boys to learn the 'proper' way of taming the beast. It's creamy hide turned a dusty pink, mimicking the sun's light and Ehawee found herself inhaling deeply.
She wanted that beast and Ehawee knew how she was going to get it. The boys bragged about the one who could first to break the horse and ride it would be able to keep it. To add insult to injury, the boys would look at her and laugh when Ehawee asked if she could try.
"'Cause you're a girl! That's why."
"What if I rode it, without any help?"
"Then, you keep it."
Ehawee snorted once as she quietly walked out of the room, down the hallways, and finally outside. Carefully, she approached the corral, studying the mare.
Ehawee finally saw that the mare wasn't just cream in color, but had splotches of brown and black covering her body. The mare bucked against the lead, her flanks quivering with fear and Ehawee knew how the horse felt.
"Shhh." Ehawee crooned, taking a hesitant step closer to the beast. Softly, out of fear of being heard, Ehawee began to speak in her family's tongue, holding her hand out. "I won't hurt you. I'm trapped here too."
The mare snorted once, stamping a hoof as she continued her wild dance. Slowly, the mare approached Ehawee, snuffling and snorting until the sounding of the breakfast bell shattered the silence, spooking the mare.
Ehawee hid. She wanted that horse. The boys...especially the ones that had come with her, knew that she would accept any challenge as a dare, if only to prove the boys wrong. She hesitated, was this worth the punishment?
The question danced before her for a brief moment before a wave of homesickness flooded over her. Ehawee had her answer.
Silence filled the air as she eased herself closer to the corral, watching the mare skittishly dance across the circle. Shoes had to go. Without a second thought, Ehawee removed them, placing them carefully outside of the corral before climbing in.
Ehawee had seen the elders of her tribe do this many times. She began to speak softly to the horse, reassuring it that she wouldn't hurt it. The mare's flank quivered as Ehawee took a small steps closer to the horse. With each step, a feeling of elation flooded her heart. She trusted Ehawee!
Finally, Ehawee stood close enough to stroke the mare's mane and carefully, she did so, whispering soft words of understanding and wanting to help the beast. The mare finally stilled and Ehawee knew what she had to do.
The mare towered over Ehawee, but she grasped the beast's mane, using it as a leverage to pull herself up onto its back. Ehawee was barely seated for a blink of an eye before the mare began its wild dance once again. She clung desperately to the neck of the beast, before being thrown to the hard ground.
The sound of laughter filled the air and Ehawee's eyes shot up to discover the boys pointing their fingers at her.
"And she thought she could break a horse," one said as the others continued to laugh.
"I can and I will," she vowed, setting her jaw as she stood up, rubbing her now sore backside.
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