The Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: All Star Story Writers

Chapter 2 (v.1) - A LOYAL FRIEND

Submitted: October 13, 2016

Reads: 240

Comments: 2

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Submitted: October 13, 2016

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“I’m really sorry Emm, he’s just so strong and determined, I couldn’t hold on to him, and now he’s stuffing his face and won’t let me get anywhere near him,” Pen gasped.

“Don’t worry Pen, I’ll catch him,” I said, with more confidence than I felt. After the confrontation with my parents the previous evening and with anger and frustration still boiling inside me, this was the last thing I needed.

Penny had kindly offered to take Pixel the pony out into the yard while I mucked out his stable. They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and apparently, he took one sniff of the lush spring grass in a nearby field and made a bolt for it, clearing the fence and quickly settling down to feast on the mouth-watering treat that, like Christmas, comes once a year. Left to it, he will gorge himself until he’s so fat it makes him ill, so every year we have the same battle, saving Pixel from his greed! The only thing is, he has no intention of being saved.

My theory is that his gluttony was caused by his previous neglect. When we rescued him, he was a sorry sight, having been abandoned at the road-side, tethered to a grass verge with no food or water. Standing knee deep in mud, unable to move, he stared at us through big pitiful, pleading eyes. His bones jutted out at angles under his mud caked coat and he was crawling with flies, too frail to even swish his tail or shake his head in an attempt to be rid of them. It was a heart breaking sight, and when I asked Mum if we could take him back to the palace, she didn’t hesitate. In no time at all, his eyes began to twinkle with mischief, his skeletal frame filled out and his lust for life returned with a vengeance, along with his passion for lush spring grass!

With tempting chunks of chopped carrot in my palm, I slowly walked towards him. “Come on boy, you know you want them.”

Pixel lifted his head and trotted over, cautiously eyeing up the carrots from a safe distance.

He stood, hooves firmly rooted, stretching out his neck as far as he could, until I could feel his hot breath on my palm. My other hand itched to grab a handful of mane, while Pen stood just behind ready to loop the halter round his neck.

“Come on Pixel, mmmm lovely carrots just for you,” I crooned. As he snatched the carrots from my palm, I made a grab for his mane, but he beat me to it by a millisecond and thundered off, with a triumphant swish of his tail, followed by a defiant buck, which looked remarkably like a deliberate ‘two hooved’ sign in my direction!

“You horror,” I screamed after him, my patience in short supply.

“What are we going to do now?” Pen asked, sheepishly.

“I’ll try a nosebag filled with oats, it sometimes works better than carrots.”

Proceeding slowly, I tried again. “Oooooh look Pixel, your favourite food,” I said, holding up the nosebag.

This time I definitely sensed his resolve weaken, and after a few tentative sniffs, he finally pushed his nose deep inside, and began munching contentedly. I gently stroked his glossy neck and wound my fingers slowly through his thick mane, as Pen slipped the halter round his neck.

“Gotchya,” I said in relief, as we led him out of the field and back towards the stable.

“Emm, what’s the matter, you look as if you haven’t slept for a week and you seem really snappy. It’s not like you?”

With Pixel now safely back in his stable, I slumped down on a bale of hay.

“I had the royal summons last night,” I explained, picking straw out of my stubborn curls. “Because of some stupid royal rule, when I’m eighteen, I have to start searching for a suitable prince to marry.”

Pen sat down beside me, a worried frown creasing her brow. “And what did you say?”

“I told them I didn’t want to be a Princess any more, but they said I had no choice. To be honest, Pen, I’m thinking of running away. No-one gets married at eighteen now, it’s far too young. Anyway, I might not want to marry a prince at all, but they’re just not interested in what I want. What would you do?”

“Emm, don’t do anything rash. If you ran away, where would you go?” She paused deep in thought, when her blue eyes suddenly lit up.

“OK, I would just go along with it. As I see it, there’s no time limit on how long this search for a prince should take. So just be fussy, take your time searching – like ten years if need be.”

It was like a light bulb suddenly being switched on in my head. “Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks Pen, you’ve just made my day. You’re a star.”

“Why on earth did they leave it until now to tell you?  It’s a bit late in the day.”

“They reckon they tried, but the time was never right. In other words, they bottled it. In fairness, they both found it really hard, it all got really stressed and emotional. You don’t know how lucky you are, to have such a normal family.”

“Believe me, my family is far from perfect. But hey, it’s Saturday, let’s find out what Katy and Lea are up to, maybe we could all go to the cinema and then grab a pizza or a burger. What do you think?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

Pen is my closest friend. In this royal ‘circus’ that is my life, she does her best to keep me grounded. I don’t know what I would do without her.

 


© Copyright 2020 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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