Equine Therapy - Short Story Inspired by Sandi Thom
Kat put her laptop on her passenger seat, checked her make-up in the mirror, set her iPod to shuffle her “driving tunes” playlist, activated the hands free option on her phone, entered the postcode of her desired destination into her sat-nav and then started up her BMW with her keys that had a little, fluffy toy horse as a key ring. Just as she was pulling away with a slight wheel spin, her phone rang.
‘Hello,’ with one word Kat managed to express her surprise at being phoned at that time, her annoyance at being phoned while driving and tell the caller to identify themselves quickly.
‘Kat my dear, just checking you’re still on for our meeting,’ a middle aged man spoke with an, old public school boy, tone that annoyed Kat.
‘Yes Simon, I have managed to retain that information in all that time since you called to confirm last night, I’ve just set off now,’ Kat replied sharply as she negotiated her way out of a t-junction.
‘Oh excellent, you’ve set off already, you should be here in plenty of time, we’re only not too far off the M6.’
‘I’m never late.’
‘You’ve already found time for a visit to the gym I suppose,’ Simon said with great awe and wonder.
‘You know I do that every morning, that’s where I’ve just set off from.’
‘Barely passed seven thirty in the morning and you’ve already put the rest of us to shame, such energy,’ Simon continued the praise. ‘Of course I had a lot more energy when I was your age.’
‘You might not have the energy, but your memory is obviously pretty good for your age,’ Kat said as she queued at a roundabout to get on the M6.
‘Oh yes I do keep my mind active.’
‘Sorry I’ve got to go, got another call,’ Kat said.
‘See you soon my Dear,’ Simon managed to say before being cut off.
‘Hey Dani, how you doing?’ Kat answered the other call with an altogether friendlier tone.
‘Pretty good thanks, just got out of bed, thought this was the best time to catch you before you begin another ten hour work day.’
‘Your own bed?’ Kat asked with a smile as she turned off the roundabout.
‘Yes my own bed you cheeky cow!’ Dani said with a little laugh.
‘Try the pedal on the right you moron, it’s called an acceleration lane, not a dawdle lane,’ Kat shouted.
‘Either you’re driving or you really have been working too hard.’
‘Yeah just heading north up the M6, for a meeting with a creepy old guy in Runcorn.’
‘Then you must have misheard me. Seriously the guy has the ability to make your skin crawl with just one look, but he’s an important client and he asked for me in particular to deal with his business.’
‘Of course he did, if you need to have a financial advisor, may as well have one who is a hottie.’
‘I get the distinct impression this guy isn’t even that fussy, he’s just been on the phone to me checking I was still coming, he was one step away from asking what I was wearing.’
‘He obviously doesn’t know you that well, otherwise he wouldn’t need to ask, he’d know you were wearing an all black outfit, three inch heels, stockings, a, just above the knee, tight skirt, as it’s summer you’ll be wearing a vest style top underneath your suit jacket and your hair that matches your outfit so well will be in a tight pony tail. Had it been winter you’d have had a long sleeve top, spring and autumn would mean a regular t-shirt style and if it was scorching hot you’d be a total rebel and switch to a white vest stop.’
‘Are you in the car behind me?’ Kat wondered with a little chuckle.
‘I could be on the other side of the planet and know what you were wearing for work, I could tell you what underwear you’re wearing, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass you.’
‘Sometimes being predictable isn’t a bad quality, we can’t all dress for work as if we’re in a fashion show.’
‘You were so much more fun when you were sixteen,’ Dani said with a smile that Kat could sense.
‘Everybody was more fun when they were sixteen, at least I sacrificed that fun for success and a shed load of cash, and not mediocrity and debt like most people. Oh by the way I downloaded that album we were listening to last night.’
‘Oh excellent, my quest to stop you being middle aged before your time is still working then. You still up for the cinema tonight? I’ll get us the two for one deal on my phone.’
‘Yeah sure, don’t suppose there’s any chance of watching a film that will make us think?’
‘Not unless you’ve developed a time machine that I don’t know about, there are a couple of good comedies out though. You do still like laughing don’t you?’
‘Yes, that I still like. Oh crap what’s happening here?’ Kat said as the brake lights on all of cars in front of her lit up like a Christmas tree.
‘Looks like some major traffic issues here, I checked on my phone before setting off and there was no problems on the M6 north at all.’
‘Maybe it’s only just happened,’ Dani suggested. ‘If you can get off I’m pretty sure you can get on the A49 soon enough and that’ll get you close to Runcorn.’
‘I’ve no idea, but if I come off at the next junction my sat nav will adjust soon enough.’
‘I’ll leave you in the capable hands of some technology then, I’ve got to go and get ready for work.’
‘Bye, don’t take too long deciding what to wear.’
‘I’ll take just long enough, bye.’
Kat put her faith in the sat-nav and it did indeed direct her to the A49, where she could continue her journey north. After just a few minutes on that road her journey was slowed down almost to a stop as a tractor made its way slowly up a hill in front of Kat. The drivers in the five cars between Kat and the tractor weren’t showing any signs of being keen to overtake. Eventually three went by the tractor, as soon as she got to a straight part of the road Kat pulled out and used every bit of horsepower she had to get past the two cars and the tractor. When she got level with the tractor a car heading the other direction was getting uncomfortably close, Kat kept her foot down and pulled in past the tractor just as the driver of the other car beeped his horn.
‘If you had enough time to beep your horn, it really wasn’t that bad,’ Kat said aloud with her heart racing, after taking a big sigh.
At this point Simon called again.
‘Hello?’ Kat snapped.
‘Oh hello Kat, I’ve just heard about the crash on the M6, just checking you weren’t involved.’
‘Don’t worry I should still be on time.’
‘It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a little late.’
‘It matters to me, and despite being re-routed on to some country road, which I’m assured is actually the A49, along with half the traffic that was on the M6 and getting stuck behind a tractor for ten minutes, I will still be on time,’ Kat replied. ‘Oh what the heck is this?’ She added as she saw the cars in front of her at a complete stand still.
‘Yeah complete stand still, looks like temporary traffic lights,’ Kat said as she came to a halt, took both hands off the steering wheel let out a little scream, ran her hands through her hair and pulled tight on her pony tail.
‘There are a few along the A49 at the moment.’
‘Thanks for that insight Simon,’ Kat said shaking her head.
‘I’ll leave you to it.’
Kat didn’t bother saying goodbye, instead just hung up on Simon.
It was two changes of lights and a few punches of the steering wheel and some more pulls on the pony tail before Kat got through those lights. Once again she set off trying to make up for lost time, but once again it wasn’t long before she was crawling along and not able to get out of second gear, soon enough she was at a complete standstill. At this point she got another call from Dani.
‘Hey, I thought I’d check on your progress whilst I was on the train into work, from your tone of voice I’m guessing it’s not great.’
‘Right now it’s none existent, just checking on my laptop now to see if I can find out why the hell I’m stuck still in the middle on God knows where somewhere on the A49.’
‘Just chill out and listen to your iPod for a while.’
‘Some of us have important jobs.’
‘Meow! Let’s think what songs we could play for you? Obviously Road to Hell and Rush Hour, but what else could we have?’
‘If you suggest Always Look on the Bright Side of Life then I’ll hang up right away,’ Kat said as she searched online on her laptop.
‘How about Country Roads?’
‘Almost funny enough to not get me annoyed,’ Kat replied. ‘Oh crap, just getting a report of an accident just little north of me I think.’
‘Probably some moron overtaking when they shouldn’t do.’
‘Yeah probably, oh and now my sat-nav has died, fantastic, looks like I’m stuck here.’
‘Worse places to be stuck, I bet there’s some nice countryside near where you are right now.’
‘Have you read an “optimism for dummies” book recently?’
‘I could write that book! Come on describe to me what you can see right now.’
‘Actually you are right, I’m surrounded by fields, one on my left goes up a slope, there’s four horses in there, looks like two thoroughbreds and a couple of Hackneys, strange mix. All look gorgeous,’ Kat had a calmness to her voice for the first time that day, she glanced down at her key ring after finishing her description.
‘There you go, horses in fields and some chilled out tunes, not the worst thing in the world, I’m getting off the train now. Let me know when you get there okay and I’ll see you tonight for some laughing.’
‘Will do, see you later.’
Kat gazed at the horses for a few minutes before being interrupted by Simon’s latest call.
‘Simon if you’re about to tell me that there’s been an accident on the A49, then let me tell you that would be as useful as standing in a casino telling people it’s landed on black after the roulette wheel has finished spinning.’
‘Ah, yes, that was what I was going to say. Any idea of an ETA?’
‘An ETA? Wouldn’t it have been just as easy to ask if I know when I’ll get there? The answer is I have no idea.’
‘It’s just that I do have other things on later this morning and in the afternoon, so although I have some leeway with our meeting time, it’s not an unlimited window.’
‘Simon I am at a complete standstill on a road I don’t know, in an area I’m pretty sure I’ve never been in before and I have no idea how far away I am and how long it will take the road to clear. So unless I’m driving the Delorean from Back to the Future not only do I have no clue when I’ll arrive, I have no control over it either.’
‘But this meeting is important.’
‘Over six and a half billion people on the planet Simon and only two of us care about this meeting, and to be honest right now I’m really not that bothered.’
‘It matters to me.’
‘Surely there must be a woman in your office who you can perv on and flirt hopelessly with instead.’
‘Oh come now, I don’t mind a bit of banter, but that is extremely unprofessional,’ Simon sounded completely ruffled.
‘I’ve got one of these new phones Simon, does your phone do this?’ Kat said then hung up.
She allowed herself a little chuckle then went back to gazing at the horses. Within a couple of minutes her head office were calling her.
‘Hello,’ Kat answered the phone boisterously.
‘Kat is Tom. I’ve just had Bill on the phone and he is fuming,’ Tom sounded like he was simmering himself.
‘I have to tell you Tom, that I really don’t care.’
‘You should care, he’s one of our biggest clients,’ Tom was incredulous and angry in equal measures.
‘Should I? Should I really? I’m going to be late for our meeting, to be honest I’m not even going to go at all now and there’s two things he can do about it, absolutely nothing and like it.’
‘What on earth’s the matter with you Kat?’
‘I actually feel cured rather than ill.’
‘You financial types are never ones for philosophical metaphors.’
‘I do know that if you carry on behaving like this we will have to fire you.’
‘I promise it won’t come to that, I’ve never been an expert on all the human resources stuff and company policies, but I’m certain you can’t fire someone who has already quit,’ Kat abruptly hung up, then she pulled her car over so that it was on the grass verge, up against the hedge, but still mostly on the road. She put her hazard lights on then got out of the car and walked to the boot.
‘You can’t leave that there,’ the man in the car behind her said, with his driver’s side window down.
‘That’s poor grammar,’ Kat replied. ‘You mean, I shouldn’t leave that there.’
‘You’re making things even worse.’
Kat walked closer to his window. ‘Get your phone out, dial any number you want and maybe, just maybe you’ll get to speak to someone who cares what you think,’ Kat then went back to her boot and opened it. Then she took off her shoes and threw them in there, slipped off one stocking then the other, greatly decreasing the anger the man behind her was feeling towards her. She grabbed a pair of shorts out of her gym bag and managed to slip them on under her skirt without giving the onlooker too much of an eyeful. Once they were on she took off her skirt and put her trainers on.
‘That vest top really doesn’t match those shorts,’ the man behind her said.
Kat smiled. ‘Unfortunately for you, I really don’t care,’ she took the gym bag out of the boot, put her car keys, iPod, memory stick from her laptop and her phone in it, then walked up to a gap in the hedge where the fence to the field was and through her bag over the fence, then climbed over the fence herself, an act that was accompanied by a couple of wolf whistles.
Once on the other side of the fence Kat grabbed her bag and carried it over her shoulder, then heading up the hill towards the horses. Coming from the opposite direction was a girl, dressed in jodhpurs, riding boots and looking altogether very horsey.
‘Hey, are these gorgeous creatures yours?’ Kat asked her when she joined her by one of the thoroughbreds.
‘I wish,’ the girl said. ‘I do ride them though.’
‘Lucky you, bet they give you a hell of a ride.’
‘Best feeling in the world,’ she replied with the broadest of grins.
‘Yeah I just about recall it,’ Kat said whilst nodding with a little smile of her own.
‘Do you ride?’
‘I used to, stopped when I was around your age, how old are you?’
‘Yeah I was cool and great fun to be with when I was sixteen.’
‘Why did you stop riding?’
‘Because life got in the way and I made the terrible mistake of confusing growing up with stopping doing all the things that make you happy and that you really want to do. Do me and yourself a favour and never make that mistake.’
‘I’ll try not to.’
‘Is there a train station anywhere around here?’ Kat asked.
‘If you head that way, you’ll get to one eventually, think it’s three or four miles though, but I’m not great with distances.’
‘That’s cool, a walk is good,’ Kat nodded as she delved into her bag to get her phone out. ‘Nice meeting you, keep riding for as long as you can,’ Kat added.
‘You too, I will keep riding for as long as I can, hope you get back into it.’
‘I will,’ Kat said as she set off walking in the direction of the train station, and held her hand up as a goodbye gesture.
As Kat continued the walk up the hill she dialled Dani, as expected she got her answer phone whilst Dani was in work.
‘Hey Dani, sorry I won’t be able to make the cinema tonight, I’m heading to Paris, or Brussels, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, haven’t decided where I’m going to start yet. You’re welcome to come with me, promise I’ll be loads of fun to be around.’
fantastic music, thought provoking lyrics and great merchandise from singer/song writer Sandi Thom: http://tiny.cc/loveablelyrics