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A Horse by Yoshino

Word Count 1,666

Clouds drifted lazily across the sky; a great blue California sky. A warm breeze stirred the fresh laundry that Teresa was taking off the line. She hummed softly as she worked. It was a beautiful afternoon, the kind of day that makes you glad just to be alive and living life.

She smiled as she unpinned the last article of clothing. Today, she would bake an apple pie. It was Murdoch’s favorite, and he would be pleased to eat it when he got home. He and Scott had gone to town to take care of some business matters with Murdoch’s lawyer. They would be both hungry and tired when they returned. A pie would be just the thing to pick them up. She had learned long ago that targeting men’s stomachs was the way to get them into good moods.

She was turning to go inside, the basket of clean laundry in her hands, when she heard the sound of a lone horse approaching. Curious, she set the basket back down and stepped around the corner of the house. It was Johnny on Barranca. He had ridden out that morning with one of the work crews but had apparently decided to return early.

She opened her mouth to call out to him; then hesitated. She could hear him talking to the horse. His voice was low and conversational, and she found herself wondering what he was saying.

It was not the first time that she had wondered this. Johnny was always talking to that horse. Sometimes it seemed that he spent more time with Barranca than with his own family. She smiled at herself. It was silly to be jealous of a horse.

The smile faded. Her eyes darkened suddenly. Silly though it was, she did feel jealous. How many things had Johnny confided to Barranca that he had never mentioned to them? How many times had he escaped from a confrontation or a social event to be with his horse? If he could just be like that with his family, then maybe they could actually get to know him better. As it was, he still seemed very much a stranger to her, and she wondered if that would ever change?

At that moment, Johnny turned his head and saw her. Their eyes met; and he stared at her for a long moment, making her cheeks flush with embarrassment. Then, his face relaxed into a slow smile. He lifted his hand in a casual wave.

Teresa bit her lip and waved back. She had not meant for him to catch her staring. Taking a deep breath, she walked towards him. Her feet moved slowly and her heart thumped strangely in her chest. It made her nervous and confused when Johnny would look at her like that. She didn’t understand what the look meant.

She came to a stop a few feet away from him. His back was turned to her as he loosened the girth on the saddle. She watched him for a moment, unsure of what to do or say. Usually, never at a loss for words, it frustrated her that Johnny could render her speechless with just a look.

He half turned towards her and looked her in the eyes. “Need something? Or, is it just my good looks you were studyin’ so hard?”

Teresa thought she detected a glint of humor in his eyes. She flushed again and lowered her gaze to the ground. “No,” she replied softly, hesitating before admitting the truth, “I was just watching you with Barranca, and…” Her voice trailed away to nothing, and she clasped her hands in front of her. Then, slowly, she lifted her eyes back to his face.

He was watching her closely. He seemed to detect that she was holding something back. His demeanor changed abruptly.

“If you’ve got something to say, Teresa, get it said.” His voice was low and cool.

For a moment, Teresa was taken aback. Then, her chin lifted a notch. Her blue eyes flashed. “Well, if you must know,” she snapped with a toss of her head, “I was just thinking that if you put half as much effort into building a relationship with the people who care about you as you do with that horse, then maybe you could actually get somewhere! Why don’t you ever talk to us the way you were just talking to Barranca? What were you telling him? Is he more important to you than your own family?” She placed her hands on her hips and stared up at him with a challenge in her eyes.

He turned around slowly to face her head on. A hardness had settled over his features, making him suddenly look years older. He stared back at her for a long and silent moment until her eyes faltered, and she looked away. Then, he picked up Barranca’s reins and headed towards the barn.

The instant he turned away, Teresa was sorry for the words she had so carelessly flung at him. She took a hesitant step after him.

“Johnny, wait!” He paused but did not look back. It was enough for her. She rushed forward.

“Oh, Johnny, I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have said those things. Please, forgive me.” She stopped beside him, laying her hand lightly on his arm.

In a softer, pleading tone, she continued, “Johnny, don’t be angry. I didn’t mean to say all of that.”

He looked down at the small hand on his arm and then at her apologetic face. “You might not have intended to say it,” he replied in a bitter voice, “but you meant it.”

Teresa jerked her hand back, hurt and angered by his accusation and his obvious refusal of her apology. “Of course I meant it!” she flared, “because it’s true! You’re a selfish man, Johnny Lancer, and I don’t understand you!”

She whirled around and stormed away. Tears filled her eyes and trembled on her dark eyelashes. She could feel his gaze on her, boring holes into her back. She felt a wave of heat wash over her face, and she put on an extra burst of speed to get her around the house and away from his awful stare.

Blinded by the tears and too upset to care, she failed to notice the forgotten laundry until her foot collided with the basket. Before she was even aware of what had happened, she found herself on the ground amid the scattered clothing. Ordinarily, such an occurrence would not have bothered her. She would have simply gathered the laundry, shaken out the dust, and laughed it off.

But, at that moment, it was the final straw that unleashed her built up emotions. The tears spilled over and turned into full sobs, and her slender body shook with the force of them. She was so worked up that she failed to hear the sound of approaching footsteps or the gentle ringing of spurs. So, when the low voice spoke, she jerked in surprise and whipped her head around.

“Didn’t you ever hear that sayin’ about not cryin’ over spilled laundry?” Johnny didn’t wait for a reply as he bent down to gather up the soiled clothes. By the time Teresa had managed to get some control over herself, he had refilled the basket and was standing over her with his hand stretched out.

She hesitated for a brief moment; then quietly laid her hand in his. His strong fingers closed over her palm, and he pulled her effortlessly to her feet. She tried to step back but his grip tightened around her hand. She kept her eyes down, staring at the sleeve of his salmon colored shirt. She couldn’t look him in the face. She was ashamed of her behavior and puzzled by it, too. How had he managed to get her so upset with only a few words? It wasn’t like her to be so emotional.

Then, she felt his other hand under her chin, and she found herself staring into his eyes. They were so blue! And, they seemed to be searching her face, looking for something.

“Do you really think just talkin’ will help us all get along better or something?”

The question surprised her. She smiled gently at him. “I think it will help us to understand each other better. And, once we understand each other, then we can know how to better get along.”

He searched her face again, then released her hand and stepped back. “Well, I guess we’d better get back to our work.” He turned around, and Teresa was just wondering if they had accomplished anything by that exchange, when he turned back with a silly grin on his face. “Oh, and, if you must know, it was about green grass and steak.”

“What?” Teresa stared blankly at him. She wondered suddenly if he had had too much sun.

“Well, you wanted to know what I was saying to Barranca. I was talking about letting him graze on some nice green grass while I tried to rustle me up a steak.” He flashed a big, saucy smile. “Does that help you to understand me better?”

Teresa put her hands on her hips and laughed. “Yes, it does. I understand now that there is at least one thing more important to you than even Barranca, and that is your stomach! Now, go on with you and maybe if I’m feeling generous, you’ll get that steak tonight for supper.”

He chuckled and winked at her. As he walked away, she had the feeling that they had taken one more, tiny step towards becoming a family. She bent down and swung the basket of clothes into her arms. Then, she turned towards the house. A bird called out from somewhere nearby. The smell of cattle wafted to her on the breeze. The sun felt warm on her back. She smiled. It really was a beautiful day.

The End
June 18, 2022


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33 thoughts on “A Horse by Yoshino

  1. May I be the first to congratulate you on a really brilliant and insightful first story!
    These are the kinds of little scenes I like to read over and over again.
    So much depth and feeling. Not a word was wasted.
    Well done, Yoshino! I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next glimpse into our favorite little world.


  2. Nicely done! You really pulled me into the conversation between Johnny and Teresa, and I enjoyed it very much.


    1. Thank you! This was my first completed Lancer story, and I was a little nervous what people would think. So, I really appreciate your feedback. I’m glad you liked it.


    2. Great job I like all the feeling inside this little piece.
      Great first round!
      I will wait for more.
      That you for writing and sharing.


      1. Thank you for reading and commenting!
        I’ve been a bit busy lately, but I hope to have another story ready to post soon.


  3. I really love this well written story in which so much is expressed. New family relationships can be a rocky road. Thank you for share by your talent with us.


    1. Debra, thank you so much for your kind words!
      New relationships can be rough. I’ve had a lot of fun imagining what kind of journey it took for all of the Lancer characters to come together as a tight-knit family.


  4. You have a good grasp of some of the intricacies of human relationships. This is always a good theme for a story. Nicely done.


  5. Really loved this story. The hesitancy of Theresa was so sweet. Johnny being Johnny, man of few words, succinct …… plus it’s short, I never have time to get involved with long ones. Thank you x


    1. Thank you for your comment, Veronica!
      It’s good to know that people like short stories. I was a little nervous at first that my story didn’t have enough plot to be interesting.


  6. Thank you for this special moment between Johnny and Teresa! It is so well written that you almost can see Johnny walking away at the end.


    1. Thank you, Tanya!
      I love Teresa, too! She is one of my favorite characters to write about, and I enjoy pairing her up with Johnny.


    1. Thanks for commenting, Carol!
      I’ve been trying to work on another story, but my inspiration doesn’t seem to be flowing right now. I’d love to receive any suggestions.


    1. It’s been very exciting to share a story with y’all. I love being a part of the Lancer community. Everybody has been so encouraging and kind. Comments like yours make me want to go write another story right now! So, thank you, Chris P!


  7. Maybe it was intended, or maybe it was..who knows…but WOW! The tension and attraction between Johnny and Theresa was crackling. I’m of the opinion that a pairing between them could work, and be oh so hot. They are not brother and sister, no matter what Murdoch wants them to think. I urge you to explore this further in a future fic.


    1. Wow, Michelle! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Honestly, I did kind of toy with the idea of an attraction between Johnny and Teresa, but I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to go that direction. I will definitely think about your suggestion. I can see the potential in it.


    1. Thank you for your kind comment, janbrac! One of my biggest worries when writing fanfiction is unintentionally changing the characters. I’m glad they rang true for you.


    1. Thank you for commenting, lesleymet. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I meant to have another story posted already, but I just haven’t felt inspired lately. I will keep trying, though, and hopefully I can come up with something soon.


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