The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 12

she got trapped once, and it shredded up the underside of her car. I’ve most likely ripped a hole in the tire already, anyway. I’m stuck here.

A split-rail fence lines the edge of Uncle Jack’s piece of our property. It runs in a lopsided square around the front yard, stopping twenty feet from the house. Another fence creates a matching grazing pen in the backyard. There’s a riding ring over by the horse barn, where Jack and some of my other cousins give riding lessons. A family side business I take no part in. They’re affiliated with a couple larger barns in the area, too, and train horses for competitions. Equestrianism, I’ve learned, is a money game.

Even though Uncle Jack’s family has the biggest piece of land out of all three of us, it’s still not enough room for all eight of their horses. They’re out of space in their barn and had to build the front yard pasture in addition to the one in back. It reminds me of the orca whales in their tiny Sea World tanks with their dorsal fins flopped over, needing more space.

The border collies tear toward me as soon as they spot me. I so seldom visit Uncle Jack’s house that I don’t think the dogs even recognize me anymore. They run in circles, trying to herd me like sheep.

“Move, stupid,” I say, nudging the closer one aside with my boot and stomping my way onto the porch.

After two or three minutes of knocking, the door opens. My youngest cousin Penny stands there in a pink unicorn t-shirt. She’s six, but still sucks her thumb when she’s tired. Right now, it’s wedged into her mouth, pointer finger resting along her nose.

“Hey Pen,” I say. “Donny around?”

She points—with the hand that isn’t in her mouth—back the way I came. “He’s fixing the tractor with Daddy and Uncle Bill.”

A red, smaller barn sits next to the horse barn. It serves as an overflow garage for all Uncle Jack’s farm equipment and Dad’s old car parts. The men in the family spend every summer day in there,