The sun flung intermittent searing rays, dodging the thunderheads that moved with odd speed for the Sonoran weather. The short oval dirt track was tucked behind creosote bushes, probably to keep kids like us from finding it and breaking our necks, the danger of the Mesquite trees clogging the center.
My little painted pony danced next to his Thoroughbred monster, her 14 hands looking inadequate and pitiful – a pipe dream, but I was determined to win. His forearms, good lord, I could not stop looking at his forearms, all ropey with shifting muscles as his horse pulled at the reins, eager to go, ready to run.
The weird breeze, so disturbing when all the days are so hot and still, toyed with his dark hair, twisting it so the sun reflected blue then black then blue, his dark eyes squinting against the sun. The longing of this un-named emotion, this twist in my gut, catch in my throat, clutching in my chest that was so new and deliciously awful fueled my want to be close to him, prove myself to him, beat the snot out of him in this race.
Our friends’ horses’ caught the sent in the air, the competition mixed with the possibility of us, and shifted, tossing heads and swishing tails. “Let’s GO already,” shouted Heather, annoyed as she tossed her white blonde hair, used to being the gorgeous center of everyone's attention.
Lined up to the narrow heel-trench in the dirt, a faceless boy shouted “GO” and we bolted off, my knees and thighs and calves molding against the bare sides of my pony, her withers digging into my belly, her black and white mane whipping into my face, my eyes. I looked over, expecting a looming presence, but he wasn’t there. Over my shoulder proved him to be right on our outside haunch, with him pressing as far forward as the saddle would allow, forearms lost in the whip of the mane.
We rounded the turn, stretching for the line, and I saw the bobbing head of his horse come into my periphery, foaming at the bit and nostrils as wide as they would go. But then the line swept beneath us and IwonIwonIwon, sitting up as my pony slowed, her sweat starting to seep into the seat of my jeans, her heaving ribs pushing against me, and smiling so wide it hurt. I turned to see him, over by his friends, their horses shifting, him spitting in disgust into the dust as he squinted at me. I sighed a little as his tanned forearms flexed, his horse pulling at the reins, then turned to pass through the creosote, redolent with rain.
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