Twenty horses brought inside, blankets changed. I slip my pocketknife under the twine of the hay bales, breaking open more to give extra hay tonight. My feet are two blocks of frozen ice. I can’t feel anything. My pants, wet and muddy from the knees down, sag at my waist and slap against my calves when I walk. The sky is dirty gray and hangs down so low it’s like being under a dark tent. A few flakes swirl through the air, but nothing big yet.
The regular workers have gone home to beat the storm. Some of the resident working students are going out with Galen to some fancy party today that I can’t believe wasn’t cancelled. Good luck getting back, I tell them when they get in his truck. They laugh.
Janie sticks her head out the window and waves. “We’ll just stay over if we have to. Lots of booze to keep us going!”
When the truck rolls down the long driveway, fading into the grayish mist, I turn back to the barn. Snow swirls inside and down the aisle. The majority of the horses are in, munching hay, warm and dry in their blankets. My back muscles tighten as I slide the heavy doors shut, sealing off the sound of the wind.
In the other wing of the barn, I scoot out the half-open door and slog to the back pasture to get Tucker. He’s always the last to come in because he likes being outside better than in his stall. But tonight he’s coming in for sure.
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