Broken Rider

By: Sasha Stark

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“I can’t get any damn reception out here,” Dina whined. Erin looked over at her friend and shook her head. Here was a city girl, born and bred, sitting on the back of a horse in the middle of the scenic Badlands of North Dakota and complaining about cell service! You can take the girl out of the city, but not the city out of the girl, Erin thought to herself.

“Take a look around you,” Erin said. “This place is gorgeous and you are worried about Internet connection? Why don’t you just put that phone away and try something new for a change?”

The two friends were on vacation from Chicago. Erin was always looking for something exciting and challenging to do, and when she read about the oil boom in North Dakota, she began to investigate the state and decided to plan a vacation to visit the area. They had landed a day ago and today was their first day out on the range.

“I don’t find this stuff as interesting as you do,” Dina said. “You know I only came here because I love you and didn’t want to see you run off on some weird ass adventure, all by yourself.”

Erin sighed and looked at her friend. She didn’t dare tell Dina that she would have preferred to make the trip alone, because would just hurt her friend's feelings. But it was the truth. Erin knew Dina would just end up complaining the whole time about lack of the lack of amenities—or her ex-boyfriend Troy— but she also knew Dina meant well and needed the vacation just as much as she did.

“Just try and enjoy the calmness and beauty,” Erin suggested. “Give it a chance. Can you do that for me?”

Dina frowned and played with her phone some more. “I just want to stay in touch with the rest of the world. We’re not all as anti-social as you, Erin.”

“Stay in touch with the world? You are sitting trying to log onto Facebook, for crying out loud. What, are you worried you will miss a few cute doggie pictures while you’re offline?”

“Knock it off!” Dina was acting annoyed but a smile had broken on her face and Erin knew she was getting her point across, on some level at least. “It’s not just dog pictures you know.”

“Yeah, I totally forgot about Farmville. You’re right, you need to stay on top of these events. You never know, today might he the day your aunt Carol finally gets those carrots planted in her virtual garden. Don’t want to miss that!”

Dina laughed and nearly fell of her horse. “You know Auntie Carol takes her Farmville very serious! If she heard you joking about her carrots she would be very upset!”

Erin smiled. Despite having differing outlooks on life, the two girls were nearly inseparable and Erin loved her with all her heart. Sure, Dina could get a little ditzy at times, and her priorities in her life were much different than her own, but she knew she could count on Dina for anything.

Just then one of the tour guides, a husky woman named Cindy, rode over. “Would you girls like to ride up onto that ridge up there?” She pointed up a steep incline towards a ridge about a quarter of a mile up.

“That looks hard,” Dina whined.

Erin wasn’t surprised at her friend’s reaction and rolled her eyes. “I would love to go with you Cindy,” she said.

Dina looked at her like she was crazy and put her phone away. “I’m going to catch up to the rest of the group and leave you two adventurers on your own.”

Cindy chuckled and watched Dina ride off. She wiped a bead of sweat that was running down her cheek away and then turned her attention back to Erin. “So, are you ready?”

“I sure am,” Erin said. She pulled the reins on her horse as she had been instructed and frowned, for the beast remained stationary.

“You need to give him a little kick with your heels, like this.” Cindy struck the heels of her heavy boots onto the ribs of her horse and Erin winced.

“Doesn’t that hurt the horse?”

“No, not at all. Look at how big these animals are. Imagine yourself being heeled in the ribs by a baby. Would that hurt?”

Erin frowned. She supposed that no, that wouldn’t hurt much at all. It still didn’t make her feel any better about digging her heels into the animal, but as she watched Cindy trot away she realized she didn’t have much choice. So she gently brought her heels down into the horse's ribs. He stirred and began trotting towards Cindy.

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