مادر و دختر

مجموعه: کتاب های متوسط / کتاب: زمزمه کننده اسب / درس 8

مادر و دختر

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  • زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
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Chapter 7 Mother and Daughter

After Matthew Graves’s death, his wife sold their house in Jamaica and took Annie to live in England. She left her daughter with the child’s grandparents in the country. She went to London and, six months later, married again.

Annie was deeply unhappy. She missed her father terribly. He was the only one who ever made her feel good about herself.

Her mother and grandparents thought she was a useless troublemaker. Through school and through her student days, and then through her working life, she was driven by a single purpose - to show them that they were wrong.

When Grace was born, Annie thought her journey was complete. But then she lost the next baby, and the next, and the next. She felt like that angry girl in her grandparents’ home, failing again. She had to be successful at something.

So she became one of the best in her business. And in her present job, on one of the top magazines, she could be cold and hard with others. She won every fight, and the losers left the magazine. She never felt sorry for them.

Now she thought about these things. She thought about the hurt inside her that made her act like that. She looked outside at another world, warm and green on this May morning. But she only felt part of it when she was with Tom.

Every Wednesday Diane collected Grace from the clinic in town, where she practised using her new leg. Sometimes Frank or Diane took her there on other days. On those mornings, Tom often came to the door and invited Annie to ride with him. She always tried not to show too much excitement.

She was already in her riding clothes when he came this morning. While she stood next to him with the horses, she enjoyed the smell of him: a warm, clean smell of leather and soap.

The tops of their arms touched lightly, and they didn’t move away.

They talked while they rode. He said that a frightened horse often had to get worse before it got better. You had to accept that. And she didn’t answer; she knew that he wasn’t just talking about Pilgrim. He was talking about all of them.

The night before, she heard Grace on the telephone telling her father about her conversation with Tom. Afterwards Annie waited for Grace to tell her about the conversation, but she didn’t. At first Annie was angry with Tom.

‘I hear Grace told you about the accident?’

‘Yes, she did,’ he said. And that was all. It was clear that, for him, the conversation was just between him and Grace. Tom almost never spoke to her about Grace; when he did, it was about safe things, facts. But Annie knew that he could see the problems between the two of them.

Joe and Grace walked towards Pilgrim. She felt comfortable with Joe now. She didn’t mind that he walked more slowly to stay at her side.

‘He was such a beautiful horse,’ she said.

‘You mean he is a beautiful horse.’

Pilgrim was watching them from the far end of the field.

‘So, are you going to ride him?’ Joe asked.

‘What?’ She gave a short laugh.

‘I mean, when he’s better.’

‘Oh, I’m not going to ride him again.’

Joe was quiet for a few moments.

‘Pity,’ he said. ‘We’re all going up into the hills soon. We’re going to take the cattle to their summer fields. It’s good fun.’

They walked back towards the stables.

She could never ride Pilgrim again. He did not need her fear and his own. But she could try another horse, perhaps.

‘My horse or Rimrock?’ asked Joe.

Annie was back from shopping for food for a dinner party. The Bookers were all coming to the river house for a meal in the evening. Annie put the computer on and found a message from Robert on the screen. He wanted to visit them this weekend, but he couldn’t. He had to fly to Geneva on business. She couldn’t understand why she was secretly pleased about that. Her feelings worried her.

She sat down. Where was Grace? Nobody was at the ranch when she got back from the shops. Were they all at the arena?

At Grace’s speed, it was a ten-minute walk down to the river. She was meeting Joe and the horses there. It was a beautiful spot, hidden from the world by trees. She waited and listened for Joe.

‘Did anybody see you?’ Grace said, when he finally arrived.

This was their secret.

‘No.’ Joe was on Rimrock, and leading Gonzo. Gonzo was a small, calm horse that Joe often rode.

Grace tried to get on, but she hurt her leg and fell. She cried out angrily.

‘Are you OK?’ said Joe, helping her up. ‘Are you sure about this?’

‘Yes. I’m sorry. I just get so angry sometimes.’

Joe held the horse with one hand and offered the other to Grace. Grace put her left hand on Joe’s shoulder. She hoped that he couldn’t feel her fear. She lifted her new leg over Gonzo. At the same time, Joe pushed her up. To her surprise, she was now sitting on the horse’s back.

After a few moments she gave Gonzo a little kick with her good leg. He moved without question and they walked along the river bank. She could do more with the new leg than she thought. She practised moving it. Soon the animal understood what she wanted. When they reached the end of the field, horse and rider were one.

Grace lifted her eyes for the first time and saw Joe watching her. She rode back to him and stopped. He smiled up at her with the sun in his eyes, and Grace suddenly wanted to cry. But she bit hard on the inside of her lip and smiled back at him.

‘Easy,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ she said, holding back the tears. ‘Easy.’

It was good to hear the sound of people laughing. The house was, at last, filled with noise. They were all there: Diane, Frank, Tom, Joe, Craig and Scott. The food wasn’t so great, but nobody seemed to mind.

After the meal, the children went to play games on Annie’s computer. It wasn’t long, though, before Scott ran in again.

‘Joe isn’t letting me use the computer,’ he cried to Diane.

‘It’s not your turn, ‘Joe called from the other room.

‘It is! You never let me have a turn.’

‘Don’t be such a baby,’ Joe said.

‘Boys, boys.’ Frank tried to calm his sons.

‘You think you’re so great-‘ Scott shouted at his brother.

‘Oh shut your mouth, Scott,’Joe replied.

‘—giving Grace riding lessons and everything.’

Everyone went quiet. Annie looked at Grace, who looked away. Nobody knew what to say.

‘I saw you! She was on Gonzo. Down by the river,’ Scott continued.

Joe jumped at him, shouting. Then everyone was on their feet.

The table, with the coffee cups and the glasses, was turned on its side. Annie and Grace could only stand and watch.

Soon Frank was leading the boys out of the house.

‘Annie, I’m so sorry,’ Diane said.

Grace stood alone on the other side of the room.

‘I’m going upstairs,’ she said, picking up her stick. She left the room.

Annie turned to Tom. ‘Did you know about this? Did everyone know except me?’

‘I don’t think any of us knew,’ replied Tom.

She just wanted them all to go now. But Tom and Diane stayed to help her with the dishes.

‘How’s Pilgrim?’ Annie asked Tom.

‘Oh, I think he’ll be fine, Annie. Where there’s pain, there’s feeling. Where there’s feeling, there’s hope.’

He turned to face her.

‘Thanks,’Annie said quietly.

‘That’s OK. Don’t let her push you away. Keep trying, Annie.’

She watched them walk away into the darkness. She wanted to call Tom back. She wanted him to stay there and hold her. To keep her from the cold that was falling once again over that house.

He wanted her more than any woman since Rachel. He thought about her now while he looked out at the night sky. Perhaps she felt the same. She seemed to smile at him in a special way; when she spoke, her words always seemed to be for him. He wanted to take her in his arms and make her feel better. But he also wanted to know the feel and the shape and the smell of her.

When Annie opened Grace’s bedroom door, the light from the stairs filled the room. Grace was in bed, with her face to the wall.

‘Grace?’

No answer.

‘Grace?’

What?’ She didn’t move.

‘Can we talk?’

‘I want to go to sleep.’

‘So do I. I think we should talk, though.’

Grace turned over on her back.

‘What about?’

Slowly now, Annie told herself. Get it right.

‘So you’re riding again. How was it?’

‘OK.’

‘That’s great.’

‘Is it? Why?’

Don’t get angry, Annie said to herself. She continued: ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’

‘You?’ Grace shouted. ‘Why do you need to know? Because you’re interested? Or just because you have to know everything?

Because nobody can do anything without your agreement? You didn’t want me to ride again. I hate you. Get out! Leave me alone!

Get out!’

Annie walked slowly to the door. Her heart was beating fast.

Then she heard a sound behind her.

‘What?’ she said.

She waited. There was something about Grace’s voice. Annie knew that she had to go back to her.

‘I said . . . nobody’s ever going to want me,’ Grace said in a small voice. Her face was wet with tears.

‘Oh Grace, that’s not true.’

‘What have I got that anyone’s going to want?’

‘You’re you. You’re special and you’re beautiful. And you’re the strongest person I know.’

She held her daughter tightly, and they both cried.

Annie couldn’t tell how long they sat there. But it was long after their crying stopped. Grace fell asleep in her arms. She put her down again on the bed and lay down next to her. Then she slept too, a deep and dreamless sleep.

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