I look down at my untouched plate. “No, thanks.”
He tucks the card inside the folder with the bill without looking at it. Lunch is over.
“Dad, I worked really hard the last couple months training this horse. She’s come a long way and I’ve learned tons on her. Sarah said she needs to lease her or she’s going to sell her. And you promised—”
“I know what I promised so you don’t have to remind me, okay?” A red bloom creeps up his neck. “What I saw today was a poor performance on a horse this Indian woman wants to get clear of.”
The words poor performance strike my gut like ice crystals and then hang in the air like a bad smell. I can’t open my mouth. If I do, I’ll cry or scream or say something that will make it all worse. If that’s possible.
He’s clueless, smiling at me. “Tell you what,” he opens his wallet and thumbs through the bills. “You take this and buy something for yourself. Get a new horse outfit or pay for lessons or take your friends out, whatever you want.” Fifty and twenty dollar bills fan out under his palm. He pushes them at me. “I’ve also got a little surprise announcement, but I want to talk with your mom first before I say anything.” His eyes are shining.
A flutter of hope like a tiny bird beating its wings moves under my ribs. I squash it down, because I’ve been fooled before. What makes dad happy seldom has anything to do with the rest of us.
“Great, Dad. You can just drop me back at the barn.”
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