Well, summer break is nearly over and everyone is back from various vacations and summer programs, so The Bookbird and the Wordgirl will be starting back up again. The Politick just got into town today, so I wanted to give her a couple of days rest if she wishes before we dive back into Rudolph and Isadora (I'd say up to about week). Until that time, I thought I'd share some backstory posts that have been swirling around my brain. And who knows? Maybe they'll make into the main storyline someday.
At eight years old, Rudolph saw his first horse. He had seen other horses at a distance, but this was the first he had come close to. It was old, gray, and slow, but it enchanted Rudolph nevertheless. It had come to town as part of a traveling fair in town for several days that held many more attractions, but Rudolph never strayed far from the ring where a small man with a large voice offered rides around the ring for a silver coin apiece*. Jared had begged him out of half his meager pocket money in order to treat some girl to the fair's attractions earlier that morning, so Rudolph did not have enough money to ride, but he sat on the fence and watched the man lead the horse for the people riding it. Rather, the people holding on for dear life as the horse plodded around the small ring twice. These weren't the upper class children riding, as they had their own horses in private stables in the capital, but they seemed to be far wealthier than Rudolph and his friends.
Through ride after ride, Rudolph did not move from the fence, but one can only watch so much of a horse walking slowly in circles before one's attention begins to wander. The sun beat down onto the fair, and dust rose lazily into the air, carried by a soft breeze that played with the hems of ladies' dresses. Slowly it came to his attention that Zandra, a friend of his and Jared's since childhood, was making her way toward him at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights around her. He caught her eye and smiled. She smiled back and moved to join him on the fence.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Rudolph asked, gesturing toward the horse.
"Nice, I suppose. I wouldn't call it amazing, but it would be fun to take a ride, don't you think?"
Rudolph sighed. "I suppose."
"Josen and Eva and I were going to get some candy and go down to the creek. Want to come?"
"I..." Rudolph hesitated, looking back at the horse. Zandra hopped down from the fence and playfully tugged at his arm.
"Come on, Rudolph. The horse will be here tomorrow."
"Fine, then. Let's go." Rudolph let Zandra pull him off the fence, eliciting a giggle from her as she turned and half-ran through the crowd toward the booth selling hard candies. He and Zandra each bought a handful, and mulled around for a minute looking for Josen and Eva. When the four finally found each other, they left the fair together and walked down the the creek.
The creek was a lovely place to sit and chat, candies in hand, and full of adventures from the morning at the fair to laugh over, but Rudolph couldn't enjoy it has much as he liked. His mind kept going back to that old gray horse at the fair. After two hours or so, when the candies were long gone and the day was beginning to cool, all four friends dusted themselves off and headed back home. Rudolph, however, told the others to go ahead without him on the excuse that he'd promised to buy something for his little sister, and doubled back to the fair. With his last bit of pocket money, he bought a ribbon for his younger sister so that he had something to show his friends when he returned, as they were sure to ask, and headed toward the ring offering rides on the gray horse.
The small man was still there, and the horse was tied up at the far end of the ring. Both looked worn out, and Rudolph could see that the man was in no mood to deal with an eight-year-old, but he couldn't back out now.
"Excuse me, sir," Rudolph ventured.
"The fair's closed, boy. You'll have to come back tomorrow." The man turned away.
"Excuse me, sir," Rudolph repeated. "I - I'm not here for a ride." Nervously, he continued, speaking the first thing that came into his head. "I can see you're tired, sir. I was wondering if you'd like a hand preparing that wonderful horse for the evening. I'm strong for my age and I learn fast. Please, sir?"
The man eyed Rudolph suspiciously. "I can't pay you for it," he said finally.
"If I do it, may I have a ride tomorrow, sir?"
"Yes, I suppose that would be fair. Alright, boy. Come with me. You help me tonight, and you'll get your ride tomorrow."
"Thank you, sir! Thank you so much!"
Several hours later, Rudolph walked home. He was hungry, tired and hot, but he hadn't been as happy in weeks.
*Politick, can we come up with a currency system? I'm pretty sure we haven't specified anything yet. Or if we have, we can always go back and change it. Thanks.