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Clip Clop Magazine story contest Enter stories here - get paid if they are run in Clip Clop Magazine. Stories should be suitable for all ages and have a horse, pony, donkey or other animal in it.

Twister & Tristan - Secrets

“Where are you off to today, son?” Robert White asked Tristan.

“I’m going to do some fishing,” Tristan answered as he smeared sunscreen on his face.

Tristan’s dad grinned. “Well, Tristan, I hope you have some luck. We have guests coming for dinner tonight at seven, so if you don’t catch anything, drop by Mr. Porter’s and buy some fish from him. I may need you to cook if I'm not back by then.”

“Okay, Dad,” Tristan said, gathering his gear. “I’ll be back by five-thirty.”

Tristan loaded his things into their dinghy and set off for Tank Island, a private island just off the shores of his home, Key West. While he did intend to do some fishing, he was really going to visit his friend Twister.

Twister was a hippocampus - a horse with the tail of a sea creature - but with a clear horn growing out of his forehead, like a unicorn. Twister had blue scales on his back and neck, sand-colored undersides, and a tail veined with the colors of a tropical sunset. He had saved Tristan from drowning several days ago, and they’d been fast friends ever since. Twister had also been teaching Tristan about life underwater, including how to speak the languages of the sea creatures.

Tristan cut the motor once he’d reached their usual meeting spot, a place near enough to land for Tristan and far enough from other humans for Twister. The boy expected his friend to surface as soon as Tristan had anchored his dinghy. But he didn’t.

That’s odd, Tristan thought. Twister’s usually here waiting for me.

He baited his fishing hook and cast several times before he pulled in a large gamefish. He measured it to ensure it was big enough to keep, tossed it in his ice chest, and still Twister didn’t come. Tristan began to worry. Was his friend in trouble?

“Hey there, Tristan.” Tristan turned around to see Twister, looking fine but not excited. That wasn’t normal.

“Twister!” Tristan exclaimed. “There you are! I was getting worried. What kept you?”

“Uh, Tristan,” Twister glanced around nervously. “I was wondering if we could hang out at my island today.” In the distance, a boat motor sputtered, and Twister jumped.

“Sure,” Tristan said, trying to hide his concern. “I’ll just have to moor my dinghy over at Tank Island. It takes too much gas to get to your island and back.”

Twister didn’t go with Tristan to secure the dinghy. As he tied up his rubber boat, he wondered what was wrong with Twister. Usually, his friend was cheerful and carefree. Now he was acting nervous and guarded, like a hunted animal. Tristan swam back out to his friend and climbed aboard.

The journey to Twister’s Key was long, even when riding on an extremely fast hippocampus. Tristan did not visit it often because of this, and because one had to get by powerful currents and sharp rocks to get to Twister’s home. Ordinarily he loved the ride out through the sapphire ocean as he practiced keeping himself on Twister’s smooth back. But today he was too worried about Twister to enjoy himself. His friend hadn’t said a word since they’d left Key West.

Soon, Twister took them past a cluster of sharp rocks sticking out of the water. After passing under a rock arch, they reached a calm blue lagoon surrounded by a lovely beach on one side and natural rock walls on the others. Coconut palms waved gently against the skyline. Twister dove and swam through a short underwater tunnel before emerging in a sea cave: his home.

“Here we are,” Twister said flatly, allowing Tristan to slip off and climb onto the rocks. “I gathered some coconuts for us to snack on.”

“Thanks, Twister,” Tristan said. His voice echoed off the cave walls, which were dyed blue by the light seeping in through the underwater tunnel. A handful of small holes in the roof let shafts of gold sunlight in. When Twister had first rescued Tristan, he had brought the boy here. Tristan loved Twister’s home, but today there were more important things to focus on.

“Twister,” Tristan said carefully, “is something wrong?”

“Huh?” Twister looked over as if distracted. “You say something?”

“I said, is something wrong? You’ve been acting… well, not yourself today.”

Twister let out an enormous sigh. “I guess I can tell you. I’m sorry for acting weird, it’s just that… well…”


“Um, I don’t exactly know where to start.”

“How about at the beginning?”

“Oh, yeah, that makes sense.” Twister stirred the water with his webbed foot, looking very out of focus. That wasn’t normal, either. Something terrible must have happened.

“Tristan, the thing is… you’re not the only human who knows about my existence.”

Tristan stared. He had always assumed that he was the only one knew about Twister. So, who else knew, and why did it cause the hippocampus so much distress?

“I ran into them by accident,” Twister continued. “I was exploring in Hawaii when I saw a young girl had fallen off a big white ship. I went over to help and took her to the surface, but this man on deck spotted me. I tried to swim away, but the water was too shallow for me to hide. Then two other men chased me on those noisy jet skis. They even tried to throw a net on me!”

“That’s terrible!” Tristan gasped.

“I barely managed to get away. I went to another island, thinking they’d just forget about me, but a few days later they showed up and chased me again. I moved from island to island, reef to reef, but no matter where I went, they managed to find me. Finally, I left Hawaii altogether. I swam for weeks and weeks to Latin America, where I crossed over to the Atlantic through the Panama Canal. I came back here, where I’d spent my days as a foal, hoping to finally escape them. And I did… until today.”

Tristan gulped. Could Twister really be in danger? He tried to think of something that would make Twister feel better. “Maybe they’re just scientists who want to study you? I mean, sometimes animals think scientists are scary, but a lot of them only want to help—“

“Oh no, they’re not,” Twister interrupted. The anger in his voice startled Tristan. “They’re poachers, every one of them. They’ve shot everything from nets to harpoons at me, and they don’t care how I or any of the other sea creatures feel about it. I don’t know how you’d call that ‘helping.’”

“No, you’re right,” Tristan said apologetically. “I’m sorry, Twister.”

For the first time today, Twister smiled. “No, I’m sorry Tristan. I shouldn’t have snapped at you. You’re a good friend, and I just needed someone to talk to.”

“Anytime, pal. Is there something I can do to help?”

“I need to lay low for a little while,” Twister said. “Keep away from humans. I won’t be able to see you as often.”

Tristan nodded, even though that made him sad. “I’ll miss getting to see you, but I want you to be safe.”

“I knew you’d understand. And… could I maybe ask a favor? Could you keep an eye out for those poachers? I didn’t exactly see their boat, but I’m sure I heard it in the distance. But they’re humans, so they’ll have to go to the harbor at some point for supplies.”

“What do they look like?” Tristan asked. “Could you describe their boat?”

“Their boat is big and white, and it has a big tank in the middle of it. It also has glass doors on the bottom that open and close. As for the people… there’s the girl, who’s about your age and has freckles and curly black hair. There’s a really tall, muscular fellow with a lisp, and a skinny guy with gray hair that he wears in a ponytail. And then there’s the leader, who’s short and fat and shouts a lot.”

Tristan committed the descriptions to memory. “I’ll check with my dad when I get home,” he said. “No one new comes to Key West Harbor without him knowing.”

“Thank you, Tristan. I really appreciate it.”

“Hey! What are friends for?”

They laughed and talked for a little while, eating the coconuts that Twister cracked open with his diamond-hard horn. Twister asked about Tristan’s life on land, and Tristan inquired after Flash the dolphin and Sunny the penguin, two of Twister’s friends. On their first adventure together, Tristan had helped Twister rescue Flash, who had been beached. Since then, Tristan had learned how to communicate with Flash and Sunny. Tristan was going to miss his lessons while Twister was away.

All too soon, Tristan had to leave. Twister carried him back to Key West, acting much more like himself than before. He dropped Tristan off close to where the boy’s dinghy was moored.

“I’ll miss you, Tristan,” the hippocampus said with a sad smile. “I’ll send Flash to hang about the harbor in case you have news. You understand dolphin well enough to talk to him, and no one will suspect him.”

“Sure, Twister. You take care of yourself. I’ll send word as soon as I find out about anything.”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Tristan cleaned his fish at the harbor, slicing off as much meat as he could before tossing the rest into the ocean for the scavengers. He didn’t want anything to go to waste. On the way home he stopped by the grocery store for some potatoes, for nothing goes better with grilled fish than potatoes cut into wedges and baked until golden. All this time, he kept an eye out for the boat that Twister had described. However, most of the boats were white and it was hard to tell if they had glass bottoms from land. Tristan decided it would be much smarter to wait and consult with his dad.

But when he got home, his dad wasn’t there, so Tristan had to begin dinner preparations. It is terribly hard to cook when you are worried about something; Tristan almost burned his potatoes. When his dad did get back, Tristan had no chance to ask for the information he wanted.

“Sorry I’m late, son,” he said to Tristan. “Work kept me. Our guests will be here in a few minutes. I’m going to clean myself up, and you should too.”

“Okay,” Tristan said. He was still thinking about Twister as he bathed and changed clothes.

Maybe Twister was mistaken, and the poachers aren’t really here, Tristan thought. The idea cheered him a bit, and Tristan was just beginning to think he might enjoy dinner after all when he heard a knock. “I’ll get it, Dad!” he said as he opened the door.

And all his cheer went up in smoke.

A man and a girl who was probably his niece stood outside. The girl was about sixteen, with dark curly hair and the sourest expression Tristan had ever seen. The man, terribly pudgy and barely taller than her, had more scraggly red hair on his face than on his head. No one else was with them.

Tristan went numb. Were these the people who were after Twister? In his shock he might have slammed the door in their faces, but Tristan’s dad came up.

“Dr. Washbuckler!” Tristan’s dad said, shaking the other man’s hand. “Come on in. I am so glad you could make it.”

“As am I, Bob,” the strange man said. He had an extremely loud, unpleasant voice, coarse and irritating like sand rubbing under your fingernails. “And who is this?”

“My son, Tristan. Tristan, this is Dr. Washbuckler and his niece, Jessica.”

“Hi,” Tristan croaked. He wondered if he was going to be sick.

An awkward silence followed, which Tristan's dad broke. “Come on, let’s eat. I hope you like fresh fish.” As they walked to the dining table, he shot Tristan a look that said, “Be nice.” That made Tristan feel even worse.

This dinner felt like the longest meal Tristan had ever eaten. He picked at his fish, which he would have ordinarily devoured, because his stomach was churning. He didn’t dare look up from his plate. Fortunately, Dr. Washbuckler was too busy talking and Jessica was too busy looking sour to notice him. The fat man talked on and on about himself in an arrogant manner. Tristan’s dad listened politely, but Tristan began to get angry as well as nervous. His father referred to his guest as “Dr. Washbuckler,” but their guest only called him “Bob,” which wasn’t even his real name.

As if it’s not bad enough that he’s hunting my friend, Tristan stewed. He won’t even show my dad the same respect.

“Oh, speaking of which, Bob,” Dr. Washbuckler said, “you know my team of marine biologists and I have done extensive research on many different sea creatures, but we are especially interested in your seahorses.”

“Seahorses?” Tristan’s dad echoed. “Well, you came to the right place. Key West has quite a few of those.”

“Ooh, very good. What kinds, exactly?”

“Well, there’s the longsnout seahorse, which I’ve seen a lot of, and the dwarf seahorse if you’re lucky, and…”

“Yes, yes,” Washbuckler interrupted rudely. “What I mean to say is, have you seen any seahorses that are a bit, say… unusual?“

Tristan managed to turn a gasp into a cough. He’s talking about Twister!

“Can’t say I have,” Tristan’s dad said. “I don’t have much time for pleasure diving these days. But Tristan’s been spent a lot of time swimming lately. Maybe you’ve discovered a new species out there, eh, son?”

Tristan’s heart flew into his mouth. His dad was only joking, but he still felt Washbuckler’s beady eyes lock onto him. “Umm…” he stammered. “S-seahorse? Unusual?”

Dr. Washbuckler was grinning in a way that was equally eager and terrifying. Tristan swallowed hard.

“No,” he said. “Nothing unusual. Just the same ordinary Caribbean fish.”

Washbuckler looked disappointed, but to Tristan’s relief, he dropped the subject and talked about something else. It felt like forever before the two guests left. As soon as he’d shut the door behind them, Tristan breathed a sigh of relief.

“Tristan,” his father said. “Are you alright? You weren’t yourself tonight.”

“I’m sorry, Dad,” Tristan said. “I-I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just don’t feel very well.” This, at least, was true.

His dad shrugged. “Maybe you got too much sun today. Go get yourself into bed, son. You cooked; I’ll clean.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

But it was absolutely impossible to sleep. All Tristan could think about was that obnoxious man and his niece who wanted to capture his friend. What was worse, there were still two others that hadn’t visited if Twister was right. What if those other two had been out searching and had already located him?

I’ve got to warn Twister, Tristan decided. I won’t wait until tomorrow. I’ll go tell Flash as soon as Dad’s asleep.

He waited in bed for what seemed like eternity as his dad cleaned up and went to bed himself. At last Tristan could hear the rumbling snores of his father in the next room. Quietly, he slipped on his swimming trunks, sandals, and t-shirt, and opened his bedroom window. He made as little noise as he could as he slipped out into the night.

He ran all the way to the harbor, hiding occasionally to avoid discovery. He didn’t want anyone to know that he was out here. The harbor was quiet, and the white boats nodded sleepily on the gentle waves. Tristan slipped into the water and swam beneath the pier so no one would see him. He didn’t want to be caught by Washbuckler and his crew, wherever they may be.

“Flash!” He whispered as loud as he dared. “Flash!”

No Flash came. Tristan began to fear the worst. What if Twister had already been captured, and never had a chance to call for help? Abruptly, a cheerful but noisy ditty split through his terror.

“Make a wish,
Get a dish,
Full of tasty fish.”

“Sunny!” Tristan gasped. Sunny was a Galápagos penguin who had moved to Key West for “climate reasons,” as she put it. But she was even more wary of humans than Twister, so what was she doing in the harbor?

“Sunny!” Tristan whispered. “What are you doing here? Where’s Flash?”

The penguin’s head poked out of the water three feet from where he was floating. “Tristan!” she honked. “What in the seven seas are you doing here at this time of night? You should be asleep.”

“I know, I know. I need to see Flash. Where is he?”

“Honestly, human, don’t you know anything?” Sunny said rudely. “Flash always goes swimming with his pod on the night of the new moon.” She waved her flipper in the direction of the moonless sky.

Tristan’s heart sank. “When will he be back?”

“Who cares? What’s the hurry?”

“I need to warn Twister,” Tristan said frantically. “Flash was supposed to be here to take him messages if I found anything out.”

Now Sunny was paying attention. “Found out about what? What’s going on?”

“I don’t have time to explain. Can you take a message to Twister’s Key for me?”

“I’m not going out there! There might be predators!”

“Okay, never mind. I’ll go in my dinghy.” Quietly, he swam over to where his father moored their boat. The dinghy was docked right next to it.

It’ll take a whole lot of fuel to get to Twister’s island, Tristan thought. But it’s worth it. Thank goodness I filled the tank!

He didn’t start the motor because that would make too much noise. Instead, he rowed until he was out of the harbor where no one could recognize him if they looked. He was just about to motor off when a wet missile shot out of the water and plopped into the bottom of the boat.

“Sunny!” Tristan cried. “I thought you weren’t coming!”

Even in the darkness, he could tell that she was frowning at him. “Look here, Tristan. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m coming along to make sure you don’t get into trouble.”

Tristan didn’t argue with her. For one, Sunny knew the way to Twister’s Key better than he did, and for two, her superior night vision might come in handy. He cranked up the motor and zoomed off into the dark.

He hoped they weren’t too late.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

“I’m close. I can feel it! The Sea Unicorn will soon be mine!”

Simon Washbuckler was very pleased with himself. Not only had he fooled that ignorant Coast Guard officer, but he had found out where his most elusive target was hiding… somewhere off the Florida Keys! He wouldn’t wait until morning. He insisted upon sailing as soon as he’d returned from dinner, and they were now moving swiftly south.

“Uhhh, but Captain,” a very tall, muscular man with a dopey expression said, “I thought there weren't any narwhalth in the Caribbean.”

Captain Washbuckler’s face twinged in annoyance. The big man wasn’t very bright, and his lisp made him hard to understand. “Not that sea unicorn, Bootleg!” he growled. “The real Sea Unicorn! The one we’ve been chasing since Hawaii!”

“Oh, that one!” Bootleg said with a silly grin. Washbuckler scowled at him, then heard a snicker from over his shoulder. He whirled around to glare at his niece.

“And what exactly are you doing?”

Jessica, who had looked much less sour before he’d spoken, slammed her book shut. “I’m drawing the Sea Unicorn,” she said tartly.

“Drawing! We don’t have time for drawing! You should be out looking for that slippery sea beast!”

“That’s Barb’s job,” Jessica retorted. “I don’t understand why I have to be out here, anyway. I want an actual life. I want to go to school like normal kids. I want to be a real marine biologist, not a pretend one.”

Her uncle bristled. “Oh, nonsense! When we get the Sea Unicorn, we’ll be so rich you won’t need to go to school. Now mind the ship! I’m going to see Barb.”

He tromped out of the ship’s cabin and onto the deck. Sitting on the bow - the very front of the ship - was a lean man who was watching the ocean intently. He rather looked like a hawk with his hooked nose and fierce gray eyes. Washbuckler marched up to him.

“Have you seen him, Barb?”

Barb kept his eyes on the water. “It’s too deep out here for him,” he said. “He prefers sheltered waters, near land or coral reefs.”

“Then we shall scour every coastline, every reef, until we’ve found him!”

“Very efficient,” Barb muttered, though his tone indicated he thought the opposite. “May I suggest we investigate the uninhabited islands first? The creature prefers privacy.”

“Silence! I can’t hear myself think! Hmm… it seems that the Sea Unicorn likes his privacy. We should investigate the uninhabited islands first!” he chuckled, rubbing his meaty hands together. “Sometimes I amaze myself.”

Barb scowled but said nothing.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

The dinghy reared and bucked like a bronco as it fought its way across the big waves. Twice, both Sunny and Tristan had nearly been pitched overboard. The little boat was not built for long treks across such deep water, but Tristan had no choice.

“Are we close?” He shouted to his penguin guide.

“For the thousandth time, no!” Sunny was mad, but not at him. Tristan had explained to her about the danger Twister was in, and she was furious. “Your human boats are so inefficient. If we were swimming, we’d be there by now. Ouch!”

She said “ouch” because, at that very moment, a huge helping of seawater sloshed into the boat. Tristan was nearly toppled over by the force, and Sunny was knocked off her feet. Tristan couldn’t see where she went.

“Sunny! Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m not hurt. I’m stuck!”

Tristan struggled to see her in the dark. He cut the motor to conserve fuel.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s my foot. Your boat bit it and won’t let go!”

Tristan groped about in the dark, wishing he’d brought his flashlight. The waves made his job nearly impossible as he crawled towards the bow to help Sunny. He tried to decide what she meant by the boat biting her foot. Finally, he deduced that her foot had become wedged where the side of the boat met its bottom. Gently, he tried to free it.

“Um, we got humans inbound,” Sunny announced midway through her rescue. Tristan’s head jerked up. Faintly visible in the dark was the white gleam of a boat. And it wasn’t a fishing boat.

Tristan’s stomach turned. “You think it’s the people who are after Twister?”

“If it is, I’ll whomp ‘em. Hurry up with my foot!”

Tristan managed to ease Sunny’s foot out of its entrapment. When he looked up again, the boat was much closer, moving fast and headed straight for them.

“They’ll hit us!” Tristan gasped. Quickly, he jerked the string to start the motor. It sputtered and died.

“Oh, no.” Tristan cranked it again and again, but the motor refused to start.

“Uh, Tristan,” Sunny said nervously. “Have you noticed there’s a boat coming?!”

Tristan was nearly panicking. The boat wouldn’t see him in these conditions. If he swam for it, he’d have no way to get home, but if he tried to save the dinghy, he might get hit too! The ship was almost on him!

He was just about to dive overboard when he heard a great splash and a trumpeting whinny that was the happiest, most triumphant sound he’d ever heard.


Up on the deck of the ship, Captain Washbuckler was suddenly wide awake. “That’s him!” He stumbled out of the cabin in his excitement. “That’s my Sea Unicorn! Barb! Get the light! Bootleg! Bring the net and follow me! Jess, cut the engines!”

The boat skidded to a halt, and a giant spotlight sliced through the night. The harsh beam turned the water green wherever it hit the waves. Tristan was too terrified to realize that he’d been saved. What was Twister thinking? He was going to get caught!

But Twister knew what he was doing. He swam in and out of the spotlight, but always away from Tristan. He stayed underwater, so all that could be seen of him was a shape, a swift shadow that was too quick for the man aiming the light. The noise of two jet skis shattered the peace. Washbuckler and Bootleg were giving chase!

Tristan watched with a thundering heart as Twister dodged his new pursuers. They did not notice that the hippocampus was making high-pitched clicking noises as he led the men on an epic chase around the boat. Suddenly, Tristan heard numerous other clicking noises bubbling up from beneath him. He heard several dolphins blow. Sunny clapped.

“It’s Flash and his pod!” she exclaimed.

Suddenly the water was filled with dolphins. The spotlight caught one, two, three at a time. Twister’s silhouette was now indistinguishable from the others. Barb was confused, then he was mad. “He’s hiding among the pod, Captain!” he roared. With a flick of its tail, a dolphin splashed him with a shower of saltwater.

The men on the jet skis were equally confused. “Get him, Bootleg!” Washbuckler bellowed.

“Uhhh, which one, Captain?”

Suddenly, a terribly loud honk blasted them from behind. Bootleg yelped in terror and toppled off his jet ski. Sunny, who had decided to join the mischief, cackled at the result of her prank and retreated.

Tristan wanted to cheer. The poachers had lost Twister! Then he was nearly thrown overboard as something seized his dinghy and began towing it. At the same time, he heard Barb call out:

“I’ve got him in my sights, Captain! I see his diamond horn.”

“After him!” Washbuckler bellowed. “Quickly!”

“Hey, wait for me!” Bootleg exclaimed, paddling frantically.

The big boat’s engines thundered to life as the poachers gave chase. Tristan realized with despair that they were going in the opposite direction as him, further away from Key West.

“No!” he cried, no longer worried about being heard. He called to the dolphin towing his dinghy. “Please! Don’t take me home yet. I have to help Twister. He’s that way! Oh, please turn around! I don’t want him to get caught!”

A familiar voice answered him. “Cool it, Tristan! You don’t want them to hear you!”

Tristan’s jaw dropped. Was he imagining things? “Twister?”

“That’s me.”

“But if you’re here, who are they chasing?”

Twister’s chuckle floated back to Tristan through the night. “Flash carrying a water bottle. Finally, a good use for bad rubbish.”

Twister laughed, and Tristan laughed too. He laughed until his sides hurt and tears streamed down his face. He was so relieved that Twister was okay!

“Well,” Tristan panted, wiping his eyes. “Won’t they be in for a surprise when they find out they’re chasing the wrong guy!”

“I’d love to be there when that happens. Flash is under orders to lead them on as long as he can. And if he’s as good as he says, they’ll be following him until dawn!”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Key West was sleeping peacefully by the time Twister towed Tristan into the harbor. Tristan put the dinghy back in its place and resolved to get the motor fixed first thing in the morning.

“You saved my life again, Twister,” he said to his friend.

Twister beamed. “Not a problem, Tristan. What are friends for?”

“But Washbuckler knows you’re here now. Isn’t that a problem?”

“Not if we’re careful,” Twister replied. “Anyway, I’m tired of swimming scared every time I see him and his crew. I’m going to stop them once and for all.”

“But how?”

“With my secret weapon, of course.” Twister winked at his human friend.

“Me?” Tristan blinked. Then he understood. On their first adventure together, Twister had called Tristan “the one I’ve been waiting for.” Now Tristan knew what he meant. Somehow, Tristan was going to help the hippocampus stop Washbuckler and his crew for good. Somehow, they were going to get the bad guys off Twister’s tail once and for all.


Horse Gentler & West Australian
2023-06-11 02:21:39
Combatant De Dragons
by linusthegreat

A horse was running in the midst of gun fire and bombs but she didn't flinch. Her name was Dragon Fighter or Combattant de dragons. She was a beautiful Fresian. It was world war 2. This was the last battle so far over 12,520 people were killd and 36,631 KIA. She was who the soldiers were counting on her to help win this war. She was carring over 300 pounds.

5 years after the war she was treated like celebrity. How? she thought Can I go FromUnderdog to celebrity

linusthegreat & featherheart
2023-07-26 16:53:44
Do you still take story submissions by email?
Horse Gentler & West Australian
2023-08-11 12:23:09
Yes! Please send us some.
Jane Crandal & JB
2023-08-12 02:46:58
Howdy, I sent another story by email a few months ago... did it not go through? I can also post it here if that is better.
Horse Gentler & West Australian
2023-11-10 00:31:22
A Dream Covered With Dust
A Plot Twist

As Paisley finished her homework, she thought about everything that had happened over the last eight months. She had been part of one of the best junior dance teams and had been chosen to compete in the state finals. She and the rest of the team had been practicing for countless hours trying to perfect every part of their performance, and then her whole world came crashing down when her family moved to a small town in Alabama. Paisley had made a list of all the bad things that came with the move in her head, some of which included; she had no friends here, there was no dance team, she couldn’t go to the finals, she couldn’t make any friends because they were all into horses and she wasn’t. She had just started considering asking to take riding lessons from her aunt when her mom called her to come eat supper.
While the Johnson family ate there delicious supper of fried catfish fillets, cornbread, and French fries, Mrs. Johnson suddenly said, “Paisley, your aunt Sam wants you to come over and hang out with her and some of the girls she teaches to ride”. Paisley thought for a moment, then replied “sure! Why not? I don’t have anything else to do anyways”. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson glanced at each other then smiled, because both of them were shocked that she had agreed.
A few days later paisley walked to the local tack store to buy some riding attire. She chose a few tee shirts and blue jeans. One of the workers helped her chose a simple pair of boot and a belt. After making her purchases she waited outside on a bench for her aunt Sam. She passed the time by watching a group of girls her age rode by on chestnut quarter horses. Her mom had said something about them being the girls who carried flags and performed drills at rodeos.
Paisleys thoughts were interrupted when a woman of about twenty six dressed in faded jeans and a checked tee shirt walked up. “Aunt Sam!” paisley cried as she jumped up to give the woman a hug. “Hey paisley! It shore is good to see you again!” Samantha replied with a noticeable southern accent.
“I’ve got to get you on a horse quick! You need to be ready for when your horse gets here!” Sam said playfully.
“My horse? I hope he’s an old horse that can’t go any faster than me!” paisley joked
“Nope! He’s just about the opposite!” Sam answered, then smiled as paisley groaned
As paisley and Sam walked into the barn, a horse poked his head over the stall and greeted them with a low nicker. “This will be your teacher until the little firecracker horse your parents bought gets here” Sam said with a hint of mischief in her voice. As they approached the horse, Paisley noted that three or so other girls her age were brushing beautiful athletic quarter horses. “This here is Jasper” Sam said as she stroked the horses face. “Hey Jasper” paisley said quietly while letting the horse nose her pockets. She saw that the horse wasn’t very tall, probably about 14.3 HH, but was very heavy built. He was a chestnut with a thin mane and tail, and some might have considered him plain, if it hadn’t been for the large blaze running down his face, and his sparkling dark brown eyes. For some reason, paisley felt as if this horse wanted to be friends with her, so she reached out and stroked his neck. Jasper apparently enjoyed this, for he began rubbing his face on the front of paisleys shirt. This caused both Sam and Paisley to laugh, and jasper appeared to be smiling too! Paisley felt that this horse was going to be a really good friend to help her out in adjusting to a new place. “Well” Sam said “let’s get this pony saddled!”
Sam showed paisley into the tack room, and pointed to her new “stuff area”. “is this all mine?!” paisley gasped when she saw the brand new tie die tack set and horse care items. “Shore is” Sam chuckled “your momma said to get you the best, so I did.” Sam also explained that Paisleys saddle wouldn’t fit jasper, so she would have to use one of her saddles. They carried all of the tack into the barn isle, and put it on one of the saddle trees. Sam brought jasper out and cross tied him, then showed paisley how to brush and saddle him. “Alrighty!” Sam said as they finished “time to get your booty up there!”
As they walked out into the large sand arena, paisley saw a large chestnut gelding trying to buck a girl about paisleys age off. As soon as Sam saw what was going on she yelled “Brittany, you better quit touching him with those spurs or your gonna get thrown off and break your neck!”
“Sure!” the girl gasped as the horse stopped bucking. Paisley watched as the girl reached down and took off her spurs, then asked the horse for a slow canter, and he responded quietly.
“Ok paisley, put your foot in the stirrup and swing your leg over.” Sam said
Paisley pulled herself into the saddle, gave jasper a small kick, and he started walking at a very slow pace. Sam began giving her instruction about putting her heels down, sitting back, holding the reins, and looking up. Paisley followed the instructions carefully, and Sam was impressed at how fast she caught on. Paisley rode at a walk and trot around the arena going both directions before Sam called her to the middle to dismount.
“You did really good paisley!” Sam said as she was dismounting
“Thanks Aunt Sam!” paisley replied beaming at the compliment
“You know, I was thinking that you could maybe come out here every afternoon and help me out with jasper and some other horses” Sam asked casually
“I’d love that!”
“The Rocket Donkey”
“Hey paisley, can you come over here for a second?” Sam asked as she emerged out of a horse stall.
“Sure” paisley replied as she leaned her pitchfork against the barn wall and walked out of the stall she had been cleaning.
“I need you to get the first stall on that end over there ready today.” Sam instructed as she pointed to the entrance of the barn
“It’s good as done already. We got another horse coming in?” Paisley asked as she pulled a piece of hay out of her hair.
“Actually, your horse is coming later today.” Sam answered, smiling at the girl’s reaction. “They said they would like to watch you ride him when he gets here, so you better go ahead and write out your will!” she added as a joke
“I almost forgot about that because I’ve been so busy!” paisley exclaimed
“All part of my plan kiddo!”
When a horse trailer pulled up at 2:00 p.m., paisley yelled at her aunt and ran out to watch them as they unloaded her horse. She stood there in amazement as she watched the big gelding step off the trailer. He was about 16.2 HH, and he was a dark blue roan with a thick mane and tail. As the previous owners handed the lead rope to paisley, they told her about him and asked if she would be willing to let them watch her ride. Paisley eagerly agreed and began tacking the horse up. As she did this, the old owners told her that his name was Dusty Work Boots, but everyone called him Dusty, Boots, or “The Rocket Donkey”. Paisley laughed at this, and said “well, I always have liked donkeys, so this guy should be perfect”.
Paisley was only slightly nervous as she put her foot into the stirrup of Dusty’s saddle. She quickly calmed herself and swung her leg over with only a little difficulty. She gave her horse a light kick and moved him down the rail at a collected walk. She was surprised at how well he behaved, even though it was obvious he had a lot of energy. After walking a lap around the arena, she loosened her reigns up and let him trot. Dusty had long legs and a big stride, so she decided to let him do an extended trot. Paisley had a slight amount of trouble keeping him at a trot, but she found it shockingly easy to sit and post. When she moved him into a lope, he easily picked up the correct lead and collected himself. Paisley was enjoying herself more than she ever had before!
A few days later when paisley was lying on her bed looking at some pictures of Dusty, she thought about how blessed she had been. It was a big enough privilege to have been on a professional dance team and be asked to the regionals, but she also got a highly trained, top dollar horse. And to think! She had been complaining about moving when she first arrived! Lots of people never even get to live in different places until they are adults, but she also had that experience too! While thinking about everything that God and her parents had given her, paisley thanked God, then went to do the same for her parents.

Gabbythehorsegirl & Squares
2023-11-15 22:13:56

Post it here!!!!

Whinnies 'n Nickers

Jane Crandal & JB
2023-11-18 21:03:33
Twister & Tristan - Deals With Eels

“Happy Birthday, dear Sandy, Happy Birthday to you!”

Tristan clapped and cheered as his friend blew out her candles.

Sixteen! He thought. I can’t believe Sandy turned sixteen today. I remember her sixth birthday party like it was yesterday!

Sandy’s mom cut the cake, iced like a seashell, and gave everyone a piece. Then it was time to open presents.

“Wow, Tristan,” Sandy exclaimed as she opened his gift. “Jewelry making tools! Thank you so much!”

Tristan grinned. He liked giving her a gift that she would enjoy. Sandy was a very artistic girl, and she loved to make things out of beads, shells, wires, sea glass, and anything else she could find.

“Here’s one more, Sandy,” her mom said. She produced a small package, wrapped in blue paper with a green bow.

“It’s beautiful,” Sandy remarked. “What’s in it?”

“Why don’t you open it and find out?”

Sandy carefully tore open the paper to reveal a beautiful case. When she flipped back the lid, she gasped. Her hand flew to her heart, and her eyes shone.

“What is it?” one of the guests demanded. “What is it, Sandy?”

Sandy beamed and held up a beautiful watch. And not just any watch, but a diving watch, which was designed especially for swimming deep underwater. It had a silver link band and a lovely blue face. The party guests oohed and aahed at the spectacular gift.

“It was your grandmother’s,” Sandy’s mom explained. “She wanted you to have it when you turned sixteen.”

“Oh Mom! I love it!” Sandy gave her mom a huge hug. “I’ll wear it forever and a day!”

Now that, Tristan thought, is a really special gift.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Tristan enjoyed the party so much, he got home late. His dad was already finished with dinner.

“I kept your food warm, Tristan,” his dad said as he pulled a plate out of the oven. “Unless you’re too full of cake to have it.”

“Me? Full? Never.”

Father and son laughed. “How was the party?”

“It was great. Sandy really loved our gift. And her mom gave her a diving watch that belonged to her grandma.”

“Wow! I bet she was excited about that.”

“She was. I still can’t believe she’s sixteen, Dad. I remember when we were six.”

“They grow up fast, don’t they?” His dad said with a wistful look. “It’s even more remarkable that you’ll be sixteen in a few more weeks.”

The next morning, Tristan’s dad left early to perform his duties. He was in the Coast Guard, so he was often away from home all day. Tristan decided to spend his day visiting Twister. Twister was a hippocampus, an aquatic horse with a fish’s tail, that lived in the waters around Key West. He also had a long, glasslike horn that grew from his forehead, effectively making him a sea unicorn. Tristan had had many exciting adventures with Twister and had learned how to talk with the other sea creatures. No one else knew about the special bond between human and hippocampus, so Tristan had to be extra careful when visiting his seafaring friend.

He packed a sandwich and some water, then walked down to Key West Harbor. As he made his way towards where his boat was moored, he spotted Sandy sitting on the dock. She was crying!

“Oh no,” Tristan said, running over to her. “Sandy! What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

Sandy buried her freckled face in her hands. “Oh, Tristan!” she sobbed. “I lost Grandma’s watch!”

Tristan blinked. Sandy didn’t just lose things, especially not something as valuable as that watch. “Lost it?”

“Yes!” Sandy wiped her eyes. “I was diving off Sambo Reef this morning. It must have come off. And now it’s gone forever!”

“Don’t worry, Sandy. I’ll find it.”

Sandy shrugged helplessly. “It’s no use. It’ll be long gone by now.”

“I’ll get help. We’ll get that watch back; you’ll see.”

Tristan ran home, grabbed his diving gear, and ran back to the harbor. His dad’s boat was gone, but the small rubber dinghy was still there for Tristan to use. He loaded his things into it and took off on his quest.

What he hadn’t told Sandy was that the “help” he was going to get was Twister the hippocampus. So instead of going straight to Sambo Reef, he boated to where Twister usually hung out, a place the sea creatures called “Paradise Reef.” Twister liked this particular reef because it was not a popular tourist attraction and afforded him plenty of privacy.

Tristan anchored his dinghy, strapped on his scuba gear, and hopped into the clear blue water. Sea fans waved at him from the reef, as rainbow-colored fish played amongst the corals. Tristan swam for about five minutes before he found his friend moving towards him. A nurse shark swam at the hippocamp’s side.

“Well, hello, Tristan!” Twister called. “I thought I heard your dinghy.”

“Good afternoon, Twister. Good afternoon, Mrs. G,” Tristan said, addressing the nurse shark. Mrs. G was a well-respected member of the Paradise Reef community, and she had raised Twister when he was a foal.

“Good afternoon, young man,” Mrs. G said cheerfully. “What brings you to our side of the sea today?”

“Actually, I need Twister’s help,” Tristan said. “I need to find something my friend lost.”

“Oh boy!” Twister clapped his webbed feet in excitement. “A treasure hunt! What are we looking for?”

“A diving watch. My friend lost it this morning at Sambo Reef, and she was really upset.” He thought about poor Sandy crying on the dock. Sandy rarely cried. That watch meant a whole lot to her.

Tristan didn’t notice Twister and Mrs. G exchange uneasy glances at the mention of Sambo Reef.

“Of course I’ll help, Tristan,” Twister said.

“Thanks Twister. I knew I could count on you.”

“Sure, buddy. Hop on.”

“I’ll watch your boat until you get back,” Mrs. G said.

“Thanks, Mrs. G. I appreciate it,” Tristan said as he climbed onto Twister’s smooth blue back. “Ready, Twister?”

“Yeah. Let’s make some wake.” Twister’s enthusiasm about their “treasure hunt” had mysteriously vanished.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Sambo Reef is located south of Boca Chica Key, which is about fifteen minutes east of Key West. Twister was able to take them to the reef very quickly because he could travel underwater. Usually when Tristan rode him, Twister kept to the surface; this way was slower but allowed Tristan to breathe. Today, however, Tristan was wearing scuba gear, so both of them could remain submerged, where Twister could hit his top speed.

As they approached the reef, Tristan’s heart began to sink. Sambo Reef was a huge area. How would they ever find Sandy’s watch? Where would they even begin? He asked Twister.

“Hmm? Oh, sorry Tristan. I was thinking about something else. What was the question?”

“I said, where do you think we should start?”

“Oh. I have a place in mind. I’m taking us there now.”

“Great. You know, Twister, this is all really weird. Sandy’s hardly ever lost anything.”

“Yeah, weird,” Twister echoed in a strange tone.

He swam past the corals and down to a patch of seagrass. Tristan slid off Twister’s back and took a look around. Why had Twister brought him here? There wasn’t anything worth seeing here.

A flash of something caught his eye. He squinted… could it be? He swam closer. Yes! There it was! The blue face and the silver band, resting on the sea floor!

“Sandy’s watch!” Tristan couldn’t believe his luck!

“Wait, Tristan!” Twister shouted. But he was too late.

Just as Tristan was about to grab it, the watch and the ground beneath it moved. Tristan jerked backwards as the head of a moray eel rose from among the grass.

“Why, hello little human,” she said in an oozy voice. “And Twister, too! To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Slick,” Twister hissed. “I had a feeling you were involved in this.”

“Now, now, darling,” the eel crooned. “You know I prefer being called ‘Madame’ Slick. It suits my refined nature much better.”

Twister snorted.

“And as for you, little boy,” Madame Slick turned to Tristan, “I see you are interested in my latest trinket. I think it brings out my eyes, don’t you?” She struck what she considered to be an elegant pose, but in reality, she looked rather ridiculous with the watch strapped around her body.

Tristan was angry. “That’s not yours. That watch belongs to my friend. It was her grandmother’s, and it means a lot to her.”

“Is that so?” Madame Slick shook her head in mock sadness. “Dear, dear. She should have kept better track of it, then.”

“Give it back!” Tristan said hotly. He made a lunge for the eel, but Twister blocked him.

“Cool it, Tristan,” he said. To Madame Slick, he said, “Pardon me, Sli— err, Madame Slick. Do you mind waiting while I have a chat with my friend?”

“Certainly,” Madame Slick drawled.

Twister, with one ear trained on the moray, guided Tristan a few yards away.

“That’s Sandy’s watch,” Tristan blurted.

“I know you’re upset, Tristan, but I need you to listen,” Twister said. “Slick is what you humans call a pickpocket. She’s been known to rob human divers without them ever noticing.”

Tristan gasped. “She stole Sandy’s watch!”

“That’s likely, but not certain.”

Tristan didn’t listen. “I say we take it back ourselves. We can.”

Twister pinned his ears back, which is what horses do to show their displeasure. “Don’t lower yourself to her level,” he snorted. “Besides, if Slick thinks you want to take that watch, she’ll just hide it away somewhere, and you’ll never see it again.”

Tristan’s face fell. “There must be something we can do,” he said desperately.

“Well,” Twister said thoughtfully, “we could try preying on her biggest weakness.”

“What’s that?”

Twitster leaned close to Tristan and whispered in his ear. “Vanity. Slick loves all things fancy and shiny. I don’t like making deals with eels, but the best way to get Sandy’s watch back is to trade for it.”

Tristan had no idea what they would trade for the watch, but he didn’t care. “Anything for that watch!”

“Alright, but let me do the talking.” In his sweetest, most patronizing tone, Twister called, “Oh, Madame Slick!”

Slick had started swimming away, then pretended she hadn’t. “Yes, darling?” she answered in an equally sweet voice.

“So sorry to take up your time,” Twister went on. “But my friend here - you’ll have to pardon him - really likes your watch.”

“It’s not her watch,” Tristan muttered.

Twister ignored him. “We were wondering if you might consider trading for it.”

“Trade for it!” Slick coiled in mock surprise. “Oh, I don’t know, darling. This little bauble is my favorite piece in my entire collection.”

“Everyone wants something,” Twister said, laying on the charm. “If you could have anything in the whole ocean, what would it be?”

Madame Slick pretended to think. Her beady black eyes glittered greedily. “Pearls,” she sighed. “Yes, I think I would look lovely in a string of pearls. And diamonds! A crown of diamonds! I would trade my whole collection for those!”

Tristan’s heart sank. How were he and Twister going to get pearls and diamonds?

“Alright, pearls and diamonds it is,” Twister said. “When we bring you the goods—.”

“Ah, ah, ah! Half a moment, darling. I want to make the trade before sunset tonight. If you don’t have the goods by then, the deal is off.”

“Agreed. Shake on it?”

Twister shook Slick by the tail, then swam off with Tristan.

“Twister!” Tristan exclaimed as soon as Slick was out of earshot. “How are we supposed to get what Madame Slick wants before sundown? I can’t afford real pearls and diamonds!”

Twister chuckled mischievously. “Who said they had to be real?”

Tristan raised his eyebrows. He sensed an idea brewing in his friend’s head. “What’s your plan?”

“A few years back, there was a big ship that sank during a hurricane. It was full of human toys, and I’m certain we can find something for Slick in there. It’s a long swim and it’s pretty deep, but it’s our best chance.”

“How deep?”

“About a hundred feet. Do you think you have enough air?”

Tristan thought about his scuba tanks. His supply of air wouldn’t last forever, and if they went really deep, he would use it up faster. But would he have time to go home and refill his tanks? Sunset wasn’t too far away, and who knew how long it would take to find what they wanted in the wreck?

He decided to take the risk. “I’ll be fine. Let’s go,” he said, grabbing Twister’s wispy green mane.

“Okay. Hang on!”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

The water got darker as Twister swam deeper. The hippocampus was built to withstand the crushing pressures delivered by the ocean, but Twister was worried about his human companion. The pressure down here would be about four times greater than the pressure that Tristan lived with on land. Plus, there was the air supply to think about.

I’ll have to keep my eye on him, Twister told himself. He’s so desperate for that watch, he’s being more reckless than usual.

With Tristan’s well-being in mind, Twister angled himself so they would descend gradually. Soon the huge shape of the sunken ship loomed into view. Giant metal boxes called shipping containers littered the seabed and were already overgrown with marine life. Twister knew that they would find what they needed inside those containers.

“Let’s start with this one,” he said to Tristan. The boy nodded his agreement. It took some work to open the container door, but Twister did it. Tristan turned on his flashlight and cautiously swam inside. The sheer number of toys in the container was incredible. Dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, little vehicles, and a bucket full of something called “Green Army Men” floated freely or sat in a heap on the container floor.

“Look, Twister!” Tristan held up a box that contained what was once a fancily dressed doll. Sea gunk had since eradicated its beauty. “A tiara! Do you think Slick would fall for it?”

Twister was about to reply when something fast and silver caught his eye. “Shh!” he said suddenly. “Turn that light off!” Warily, he scanned the water outside.

“What is it?” Tristan whispered, grasping Twister’s side.

“Barracudas,” Twister groaned. “I was worried about this. They aren’t going to like us poking around their territory.”

Tristan blinked. “But barracudas aren’t usually territorial, are they?”

“These ones are.” Cautiously, he poked his head out and looked around. Nothing. He motioned to Tristan that the coast was clear. “Let’s go.”

“Watch out!”

At that moment, three barracudas charged. Their narrow profile made it impossible to see them until they were right up close. Twister shoved Tristan inside a different container and jerked the door closed.

Twister heard the fish cackling outside. “Come on outs! We’s got ya’s surrounded!”

“Yeah! That’ll teach ya to tress- tressp— snoop arounds on our place!”

“Oh no!” Tristan cried. “We’re trapped!”

“Don’t panic, Tristan,” Twister said, placing a steadying foot on his friend’s shoulder. “You’ve got to conserve your air. Turn on your light and see if there’s another way out.” Twister could see perfectly fine in the darkness, but he didn’t want Tristan to be unnerved by the pitch black.

“I found a hole, Twister,” Tristan announced. “But it’s too small for us to fit through.” In despair, he put his head in his hands. “We’re doomed. And it’s all my fault. If I hadn’t been so impulsive…”

“We’re not done yet, Tristan,” Twister said, studying the hole. “I think I have a plan. These particular barracudas are brutes, but they’re not very smart. And in such low visibility we might be able to trick them.”

“But how?”

“With a decoy.” Twister winked cryptically. “I’ll need your help making one.”

Tristan finally understood. “Twister, you’re a genius.” He and his friend dug through the mass of toys to find what they needed. Tristan located a toy unicorn, and Twister found a mermaid doll. Using the string of a yo-yo, they lashed the mermaid and the unicorn together to make a makeshift hippocampus.

“How do I look as a human toy?” Twister giggled, holding the decoy up. Tristan didn’t think it was funny. The toy looked nothing like Twister and was rather gross.

“Honestly, Twister? I’m glad we’re throwing this to the barracudas. I hope they’re as dumb as you say they are.”

“One way to find out.”

Tristan tossed the toys out through the hole in the side of the container. Twister called out to the barracudas.

“Hey bubble brains! You want a piece of me?”

“Yes!” came the gruff reply. Two barracudas charged the toy and ripped it to shreds, leaving only one outside the door of the crate. That was what Twister and Tristan were counting on.

“Surprise!” they shouted. The container door flung open, and Twister shot through the water like a torpedo, with Tristan in tow. They bashed the big fish aside and were out of the crate in a flash.

“They’s esc— esca— gettings away!” One barracuda shouted.

“Quicks! Afters them!”

“Which way dids theys goes?”

Twister and Tristan were long gone by the time the barracudas figured out what had happened. Together they rocketed through the water until the shadow of the ship vanished in the sea behind them. Twister began to ascend, doing so gradually to protect Tristan from a dangerous condition called “the bends.” When they finally surfaced, Tristan sucked in the air.

“We did it, Twister!” he exclaimed, throwing his arms around the hippocamp’s neck.

“Yeah, we did. You still got that tiara?”

Tristan pulled out his prize and held it up. “A bit of scrubbing, and this would pass off as a crown of diamonds. The only thing we’re missing is pearls.”

“I might have a string of fake pearls back on my island,” Twister said. “If you go clean that tiara up, I’ll bring the pearls and meet you at Paradise Reef.”

“Sounds good.” Tristan paused. “Hey Twister, I need to apologize. I was so focused on getting Sandy’s watch back, I didn’t think about your safety. Or mine. Dad would be disappointed.”

Twister patted Tristan on the shoulder. “You’re forgiven, Tristan. I know you only wanted to make your friend happy. But if I were her, I’d rather have you than a hundred watches.”

“You’re right. People are always more important than things. At least this time Sandy will get to have both. Let’s hurry so we can close this deal!”

“You got that right!” Twister let out a great trumpeting whinny. “Let’s make some wake!”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

When he got home, Tristan set to work on polishing the tiara he and Twister had scavenged. A cleaning toothbrush and some soap helped scrub off the grunge that had grown on the trinket. He used a silver permanent marker to fill in the parts where the finish had been chipped off. He left his scuba gear to attend to later and raced back to Key West Harbor. The sun was dipping low in the west when he anchored his dinghy off Paradise Reef.

Twister splashed into view, with Mrs. G beside him. “You made it!” The hippocampus exclaimed.

“Here’s the tiara,” Tristan said, holding it up. “Have you got the pearls?”

“Right here.” Twister lifted his webbed foot out of the water so Tristan could see. The sea horse grasped a strand of round white baubles that looked like plastic beads from Mardis Gras.

Tristan squinted. “Those aren’t real, are they?”

“No, they’re not. But I don’t think Slick will notice. Now come on! Let’s go get your friend’s watch back.”

“Just a moment, dear boys,” Mrs. G said. “I’ve decided I should come too. I have a strange feeling about this whole affair, and something must be done about this Slick character.”

Neither Twister nor Tristan dared to refuse her. The trio journeyed back to Sambo Reef – one boating, two swimming - where they found Slick at the place they had first encountered her. She was still wearing Sandy’s watch.

“My, my, my,” the eel crooned when she saw them, “I confess, Twister, I did not expect you to be here.”

“Nor I you,” Twister muttered under his breath. Then politely, he continued. “Now, Sli- Madame Slick, we’ve got the crown and the pearls. Now do we ha—“

“You do?!” Slick practically squealed. “Oh, you’re such a darling! Let me see.”

Twister shook his head. “No inspecting the goods until we’ve closed the deal. That watch for the trinkets.”

Madame Slick pretended to hesitate. “Alright, darling, it’s a deal.” She squirmed out of the watch and let it dangle on the tip of her tail. At the same time, Tristan pulled out the beads and the tiara to show them to Slick.

“Oo-ooh,” Slick cooed, swimming closer than Tristan liked. “Such beautiful articles! I think they will suit me just fine, don’t you darling?”

Tristan ground his teeth. If she calls me “darling” one more time, I’ll tie her tail in a knot.

Under the watchful eye of Twister and Mrs. G, Tristan and Slick exchanged their items. The moment the watch was in his hands, Tristan went numb.

“Sandy’s watch!” he cried. “I’ve got to get this to her! She’ll be so happy!” He gave Twister a high-five. “Thanks so much for the help, Twister. I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused.”

“Don’t mention it, pal. You go get that watch back to Sandy!”

Tristan kicked to swim back to his dinghy and Madame Slick tried on her trinkets. She looked rather silly with the beads wrapped around her and the gaudy tiara perched on her head. Suddenly, she moved in just the right way that the strand of beads snapped. Tristan was halfway to the surface when Slick realized she’d been tricked. Her eyes blazed with anger.

“You con artists!” She snarled. “These are fake!” She raced up, jaws open, towards Tristan, who was unaware of the danger.

“Oh no you don’t!” Twister whooshed ahead of the eel, did a flip, and slapped her with his colorful tail. The force slammed her towards the bottom of the sea. By the time she mounted a second attack, Tristan was already safely in his dinghy.

Slick glared fiercely at Twister and Mrs. G. “Thieving fiends!” Her language, apparently, was not very ladylike when she was mad. “You’ll regret the day you crossed me! No one steals from Madame Slick!”

And then she started crying.

Twister hardened his heart, convinced that Slick was only acting. But her sobs grew louder and more intense, and he began to think that she was really upset.

Mrs. G swam beside the distressed eel and patted her with a fin. “There, there, dear. Won’t you tell me what the matter is?”

“Oh, it’s— it’s— horrible!” Slick sniffled. “I— I have a date tonight with— with the most handsome eel in the seven seas. I so desperately wanted to make a good impression! But now look at me! I can’t show up like this! What will he think?”

Twister’s jaw fell open. Slick had gone to all this trouble just to impress her boyfriend?

Mrs. G was more understanding. “Now, now, Madame Slick. If someone only loves you for your appearance, they don’t deserve you.”

Slick looked shocked. “Really?”

“Absolutely. You want someone who loves you for who you are, not what you wear. You’re beautiful just the way you are.”

“Oh,” Madame Slick brushed at her eyes with the tip of her tail. “I— I suppose I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Well, it’s true,” Twister offered, feeling sorry for the slippery eel. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

Although I’m not sure that’s much better, he snarked to himself.

Slick nodded, but then she frowned. “Perhaps my appearance shouldn’t be important to my Mr. Right, but it is important to me. I do not wish to arrive at such an important occasion looking like the common reef-raff.”

Twister thought for a moment. “I think I have just the thing,” he said.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

It was almost sunset by the time Tristan moored his dinghy in Key West Harbor. He ran all the way to the Surf-N-Scuba Shop, which Sandy and her mom operated. He found Sandy on the shop’s porch, preparing for closing.

“Hi, Tristan,” Sandy said gloomily when she saw him.

“Hi, Sandy. I brought something to cheer you up.”

Sandy wore a sad expression until she saw what was in Tristan’s hand. “Grandma’s watch!” She scooped the treasure into her hands and examined it, as if she couldn’t believe it was really hers. Tears of joy bubbled in her eyes.

“Oh Tristan!” Sandy gave her friend a great big hug. “Thank you, thank you! How will I ever repay you?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Tristan grinned.

“How did you ever find it?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Tristan hugged her back. “Happy Birthday, Sandy.”

Meanwhile, out in the ocean, Twister escorted Madame Slick to her date. He’d taken her to his sea cave, where she had selected decorations for herself out of Twister’s own collection. A headpiece made of seaweed and pelican feathers adorned Madame Slick’s head, and a necklace made of shells and discarded beads hung around her neck. Twister still thought she looked silly, but if she was happy, he was happy.

“You look lovely, my dear,” Mrs. G said as they swam up.

“And remember,” Twister added, “you’re welcome to use my things in the future. All you have to do is ask!”

“Thank you both,” Madame Slick said warmly. “I sincerely appreciate your help. Oh, here comes my date now! Goodbye, darlings!”

Twister and Mrs. G watched as the two eels slid off into the evening. “Think she learned her lesson, Mrs. G?” Twister asked when they were gone.

“I certainly hope so, Twister,” Mrs. G answered. “But she may need to be pointed in the right direction again sometimes. Love is a tricky thing.”

“As long as I don’t have to make any more deals with eels, I’m good.” Twister smiled and took her fin in his webbed foot. “Come on, Mrs. G. Let’s go home.”

Horse Gentler & West Australian
2023-12-28 20:32:30
Paisley smiled as the big bay horse tried to drift towards the water without her noticing. She gave him a tap with her outside leg to move him over.
"Sorry buddy, it's too deep to swim here" she apologized.
*Snort* Cowboy seemed to understand this and picked up the pace. Paisley laughed; this really was the most personable horse she had ever met. Her horse Dusty had always been very quirky, but Cowboy took it to the next level. He had been a gift to paisley from her aunt Sam on her sweet 16. Samantha Davis was an expert when it came to buying really nice horses at decent prices. She had been at a local auction when she first saw Cowboy. He was short tied to one of the many tie rings in the auction house. He needed a hoof trim, lots of grooming, stiches on a cut on his shoulder, and lots of love and care. Samantha paid a fairly cheap price for him and gave him to her niece. Paisley had eagerly given him all the care he needed and more. The goofy 15.2 HH gelding had quickly become a favorite around the barn. Paisley wondered what kind of treatment he had been given in his previous home. He had good bloodlines and was registered with the AQHA but hadn't had much training when paisley got him. Her thoughts were interrupted when Cowboy jumped to the side to avoid a snake that had slithered onto the bank of the river. "I need to pay more attention" mumbled paisley as she patted Cowboys neck. Cowboy nodded his head, as if he agreed with her. Paisley couldn't help but smile.

Paisley hopped off of Cowboy when they reached the swimming hole. Swimming was one of the many things that Cowboy enjoyed doing. Paisley watched as he excitedly splashed at the water that rushed by him, and then proceeded to lay down in the cool river. It was summertime in Florida, and the near 100-degree weather took its toll on everyone and everything. Water and air-conditioning were a crucial part of life at this time of year. Fans had to be placed in horses' stalls during the day, since horses could only be turned out at night when it was cool enough. Paisley submerged herself in the cool water and enjoyed the shade that the line of tall oak trees behind the bank provided. She wished that she could have brought her horse dusty too, but he had a torn muscle in his shoulder and was on stall rest.

After about a half-hour, paisley led her horse out of the refreshing water and hopped onto his wet back. "Sorry buddy, but we can't stay here forever" she told him. As they started the 2-mile ride back, Cowboy looked longingly back at the water and sighed. Paisley smiled and gave him a pat. "well come back" she assured him. To cheer cowboy up, she stopped at her best friend Chase's house so that he could say hi to his horse friends that lived there.

On the way home, Paisley always liked to stop at the top of the that overlooked her aunts horse farm. She leaned forward and gave Cowboy a hug. After admiring the Pastures filled with long, green grass and studying the large white barn, she and dusty headed towards the barn. When they got back, Paisley put cowboy in his stall and checked his water. After locking his stall door, she said hi to her horse Dusty and gave him some more water. Once finished with checking on all the horses, she headed to the house for a glass of sweet tea and some cookies.

Gabbythehorsegirl & Squares
2024-02-09 17:23:54

I woke up one winter morning and noticed that all the other horses were all standing with their heads out the stalls and waiting for food. I walked forward and did so to. “Why isn’t the caretaker coming?”, asked Raven’s Hope from beside me. Beats me, I thought. “Maybe he is sickly”, said Holly berry, “he could also be late. Or we are unwanted.”

Every morning we would do the same thing complaining about not getting fresh food or water. Sometimes the snow would get in our water buckets and melt in our stalls. Star’s shine got sick but pulled through just barely and Jet steam was starting to get thin. We all had to eat very little hay and were getting very hungry. I remember that the last night we saw our owner he looked very sickly and gave us so much water and hay. I miss him. He was a very sweet man. He always knew when we were not feeling well.

Then one day many trucks with trailers came and cars with flashing lights. A lady walked up to me and read my nameplate. “Hello White River. We're here to help you and your friends.”, she said. We all were loaded up and even Red Devil the meanest horse didn’t complain. We all went to a ranch where we were fed and well taken care of .

The End

linusthegreat & featherheart
2024-02-18 15:15:32
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