I’m on my feet and pulling my jacket off the chair. “I gotta go.”
“What’s up?” Jess gathers her notebook and shoves it in her backpack. “Where you going now?”
I scroll back and see there are two more messages earlier from Sarah. She’s been trying to get in touch with me all evening. “The barn. Oh, my God!” The words colic, vet, say good-bye swim before my eyes.
I text Naomi. She’s at the barn and can’t leave.
I head across the living room to go upstairs and wake Mom. I burst in her room, and she lifts her head. “Mom, you have to drive me.”
She’s still wearing her sweatpants and shirt, but the print from the bedspread is a red pattern across her cheek and her hair is drooping to one side.
“What? I’m not going anywhere tonight.” She props herself up on one elbow.
“It’s an emergency.” I check the time again. It’s been more than an hour since Sarah first called me. Twenty minutes since her last message. I calculate the sequence in my head: It takes at least fifteen to get there… “I have to go to the barn. Now! They’re going to kill Octavia.”
“Who’s Octavia? What are you talking about?” Her eyes squint in the dim light.
“Please, Mom, can you drive me to the barn? My horse is sick, and they’re going to put her down. I have to go.” I pace back and forth at the end of her bed, willing her to stand up, to just come and get in the car.
Instead, she collapses back on a stack of pillows. “Oh, Cory, I’m sorry. But I’m sure they won’t do anything right away. I’ll drive you in the morning.”
“No. Now. They said to come now.”
She pulls the comforter over her. “Look, I’m sorry. You know I can’t drive when I take my headache pills. I had to take a double dose.” She rubs her temple. “How about your friend? Can she come get you?”
“I asked. She can’t leave. Mom, you’ve got to—”
“In the morning, okay? I don’t want to hear any more about it now. I promise, I’ll take you in the morning.”
A soft snore signals the end of the conversation. I rush downstairs. Thrusting my arms into the sleeves of my jacket releases the scent of the barn. Pin pricks stab behind my eyes, threatening to release tears. Behind the living room curtains the sky is purple. It’s getting late. I’m not allowed to drive past midnight by myself. If I’m there late, I’ll need an adult driver with me for the way home. Stupid license restrictions. I have no idea how long I’ll be there, how long it will take… Mom’s purse is lying on the hall table. I don’t care about the restrictions. God, Octavia could be dead already.
Jess turns to me and shrugs. “You could ask Dad.”
I shake my head. No time. I grope around in the bottom of Mom’s bag until my fingers touch the keys.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Jess asks.
“Saving my horse.”
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