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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)

TITLE: Morning Watching
By Sara Harricharan


Frost crunched lightly under her cowgirl boots as Jennica made her way across the darkened corral. It took some effort to hike herself up and over the sturdy wooden fence, her denim knapsack thumping to the ground long before her feet did. She dropped to the chilled ground, picking up the sack and dusting it out of habit.

The light on the side of the barn glowed faintly enough to help her see the general direction of her usual destination. Trotting through the quiet pasture, she felt the wind change as she approached the giant slab of black rock.

Tossing up the knapsack, she felt for handholds and footholds to clamber up after it. The wind could reach her here, but then she could see the sky. A beautiful, navy-sea blue kind of color that was faintly speckled with the last breath of stars from the night.

Jennica settled down, cross-legged, rummaging through her knapsack to find the rolled up scarf. Using the wadded fabric for a pillow, she shifted for a comfortable position to stare up into the sky.

Morning watching.

She sighed, blissfully. It was quickly becoming her newest hobby and latest addiction. To be the first one up when the black turned to blue and the blue faded to white. A magical moment between the curtain of dark and the wash of light that made up the sunny days on Wakeford Ranch.

The emptiness of the morning was something distant and beautiful.

Sounds of wind, trees, leaves and life filled her ears as the faintest tinges of light began to creep across the sky as if gently shooing the nighttime away until later. She listened, harder than before, and almost missed it.

Steady, rhythmic beats, the sound of an approaching horse. Jennica sat up, stuffing the scarf back into her knapsack and searching for the kerchief wrapped bundles she’d thrown in there. When the horse and rider appeared, she didn’t bother to look up. The horse whickered softly in greeting and she heard the familiar sounds of bare feet slapping on the cold rock as the rider dismounted, shifting from the horse to the rock in a single, fluid movement.

“Morning.” Jennica smiled in the first rays of morning light.

Skylar grunted, the shadows on his face seeming to darken even as the sunrise began. He was wearing the usual pair of ragged jeans and nothing else, save for the corded necklace with the tiger’s tooth. Thick blond hair was ruffled with the wind and a tapestry of scars adorned his upper body.

Jennica bit her lip, pausing in her rummaging for a moment. She could practically see the stories bottled up inside him. Stories that she wasn’t sure she could bear to hear now, but maybe someday. Maybe.

The bundle was found and she tossed one onto his lap before unwrapping her own. He held it in his hand for a moment, watching her out of the corner of her eye. The homemade breakfast burrito was halfway to her lips when she saw his head bow. A frustrated sigh left her mouth, but her hands dropped back to her lap as he whispered a simple blessing for the meal.

Strands of orange, pink and lilac painted their marks across the blueness as the sun crept up to its throne in the sky.

Skylar seemed to inhale his burrito, barely taking the time to chew the scrambled eggs and sausage filling.

“Take it easy.” Jennica heard herself say, watching as the food disappeared within a matter of minutes. She looked at the half-eaten one in her hand and then went for her knapsack again. Two apples were discovered and she handed them both over.

He started to hand one back, but she swatted his scarred hand away, taking a large bite out of her burrito.

Silence was broken by the sound of teeth crunching into an apple and the soft whinny of Skylar’s horse appearing almost magically beside the rock. He chuckled, quietly as the horse nuzzled his shoulder in hopes of a handout. “Bit of a beggar, aren’t you?” He crooned, reaching up with one arm to wrap it around the mare’s neck.

Warm, velvety lips nibbled at his neck instead.

His arm fell back to his lap and he snatched up the second apple, halving it with his hands. One half was offered to the affectionate horse and the other to the girl beside him.

Both of them took it.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst04/21/11
Beautiful. Lots of mystery here. I’d take this home with me if this was on the first page of a novel in a bookstore.
Kate Oliver Webb 04/23/11
So would I, Anita - and I hope that happens one day. I would LOVE to read it all. So well done; an evocative, enchanting start to what must be a terrific novel. Such good writing here, please don't stop!
Catrina Bradley 04/23/11
I experienced every nuance of this majical morning. Beautifully written. Sigh.
Debra Hindman04/28/11
Morning is my favorite time, and your descriptive writing shows me why. Beautiful!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/28/11
Congratulations in placing 11th in level 4 and 22 overall.