Racing Hearts

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Prolog (v.1) - Prologue

Submitted: August 14, 2018

Reads: 54

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Submitted: August 14, 2018

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6th April 1991 | Aintree Racecourse

"And they're onto the home straight. With three furlongs, Boy Skout is neck and neck with Seagram. Earlier looking like there was no hope for Boy Skout but he's beginning to push ahead! The crowd are willing him home now. There's only a furlong left! Boy Skout has broken away from the others... half a furlong... a quarter of a furlong... he's done it! Boy Skout has won the Grand National! Second place goes to Seagram and placing third is Garrison Savannah. Oh-ho-ho, I can only imagine how young Marcus Harding is feeling right now! He's not only won it for himself, he's done it for Freddie Castillo and Rhys Carmichael, and how proud they'll be of that ride. Well I never, it's almost too good to be true -- what a horse, this is his 15th race unbeaten, and what a race it was. It's official folks - Boy Skout has won the National!"

The same day, half an hour before | Elsham Hospital

A hunched figure, sat alone except for the child-size bear that looked like it'd seen plenty of tears in it's life and the silver dolphin sticker on the wall that was peeling off at the edges to reveal the bare wall, listened with intent to the radio. The monotone voice of the presenter on a radio station he'd never heard before called Vintage FM drowned out the background noise of the rush of people. The chair he sat on felt like sandpaper underneath, scratching at him with a strange ferocity not often found in a simple sofa. An unsympathetic (like everything in the room), mocking strip light flickered above him, highlighting his outline every other heartbeat and laughing at a white-washed face and sharp, cutting cheekbones. Tongue nervously dabbing at his dry, pasty lips, it occasionally made an appearance to run along the cracks created by the cool spring weather. One hand wrapped around a mobile phone – he wasn't entirely sure what make, but Daphne had insisted on him having it, something about him going off the grid – the other tugging at a hole that he'd plucked in the end of his tan coloured jumper, the solitude was a stark contrast to what he was used to.

The man leaned forward, flipping through a couple of pages of a magazine before drumming his fingers on the table to the rhythm of a particularly upbeat classical song. The anxious aura surrounding him was only matched by the boredom he was clearly feeling. Fretting around with his grey shirt collar, it was apparent how on edge he seemed to be. Trying to direct his mind elsewhere, he thought about the last time he'd been in the clinical building of Elsham Hospital, with it's fake-friendly blue walls and unwelcoming smell of disinfectant that seemed to reach even outside the front entrance. 1989? He considered, his skinny fingers running along the edge of his chin lined with stubble. Must have been when Marcus fell from Socrates that timeBlasted kid was showing off to that groom, broke his ankle 'n'all. Psh, he'd better not show off today or I will have his guts...

Interrupted from his thoughts by the Nokia ringtone, the man jolted before answering.

"Hello?"

The voice on the other end was drowned out and sounded distracted. Through the noise, he managed to make out a few words. "Freddie!? You there, pal?"

"I'm here," Freddie replied, raising his tone in hopes of being heard.

"Ah! Good, good, you're there." The voice paused, and in the background, he heard someone shouting. The accented voice returned with a cough to clear his throat. "Sorry 'bout that bud. It's Rhys, here with your update. Let me fill yous in. Marcus is being a pain in the arse, as usual. He's doing some weird meditation crap, but he's been weighed so at least we're not behind schedule. Boy's looking decent. The vet checked him over at 9 this morning and I've been keeping an eye on him -- so all good on this end! Nothing for you to worry about, I promise. Just think, Fred, if we do this, our names will be emblazoned in Aintree forever. Picture it now, 'trainer Fredrick Castillo partnered with Rhys Carmichael and Marcus Harding bringing Boy Skout to 15th unbeaten race. What a team!'"

With a short laugh, Freddie found himself comforted by the sound of his over-enthusiastic friend and the owner of the horse the trio had been working on -- Boy Skout, a huge blood bay. Rhys hadn't originally had high hopes for him, but Freddie had seen something in his eyes, and the horse had darned proved it's worth already. Unbeaten fourteen times and only seven years old, this horse had one hell of a career ahead of him if he kept going the way he had. 

The true test was sure to come in today's race. The Grand National was one of the most prestigious events, held annually at Aintree. It was Freddie's third National, and the one he put most of his hopes on. His first, in 1986, had seen his horse Cinderfly fall and be injured. The second in 1988 was not even worthy of mentioning.

"You sure you've given him a leg massage? You know how his legs can get..."

"Yes, Fred!" Rhys interrupted. "I've done it, I promise. Stop faffing about. Aren't you with Daphne? She's the most important thing today!"

"No... no, I'm not. They whisked her off somewhere, I wasn't allowed to follow. Midwife said she'd be fine, but if that's the case, why am I not allowed to see her!?"

His eyes trailed to the door, half expecting his wife to come running through in her usual stubborn manner, ordering about a poor nurse to fetch her this and that. The last he'd seen her, she'd been lying on the bed drifting in and out of consciousness. Stomach rising into his throat, he gulped back tears and wiped his eyes. 

Rhys' voice crackled back through the phone, this time a little softer in nature. "They know what they're doing, bud. She'll be fine, I know it. Look, I've got to get gone, race starts in 10 minutes. I sure as hell hope Marcus has tacked Boy up or I'll stick that riding crop where the sun don't shine!"

"Alright, Rhys. Thanks for calling, and best of luck with Boy Skout. I know him and Marcus will do their best."

"Course they will. Give my love to Daphne." The phone shut off. 

Once again, Freddie was alone. The radio was turned down now; it was beginning to become an annoyance more than anything. Standing up with his back to the door, he moved groggily towards the water cooler, filling a cup till it was almost overflowing. Tracing the rim, he leaned against the cold stone walls, running a hand through his hair and distressing his curly black locks. The water tasted clammy in his mouth and he swallowed it with difficulty. When he checked, the water cooler wasn't even turned on. With a deep sigh, Freddie stared at his shoes, studying them intensely until his vision blurred. He was about to sit down again when someone entered the room.

"Mr Castillo?" A smiling nurse stood in front of him, his blue scrubs matching the shade on the walls. 

"That's me." He responded.

"Mr Castillo, if you'd like to follow me. I have some news."

"Tell me..." Freddie put the cup down on the table a little too forcefully, and it tipped over spilling water all over the magazine he'd flipped through previously. "Tell me now."

The reaction clearly shocked the nurse, who took a small step back in astonishment at the man's heated response. "Relax, sir, your wife is fine. A little exhausted perhaps, but then again, she did lose quite a bit of blood. No, no, I came to tell you -- you have a son!"

 


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