NO SECRET SO CLOSE excerpt #10, by Claire Dorotik

NO SECRET SO CLOSE is the story of a the most unthinkable betrayal humanly possible — at only 24 years old, Claire Dorotik’s father has been murdered, her mother arrested, and now, in a sinister twist of fate, Claire’s mother points the finger at Claire, accusing her of killing her own father. Battling the feelings of loss, abandonment, terror, and dissociation, and also learning about them, Claire struggles to stay in her master’s program for psychotherapy. However, when Claire’s brothers also betray her and side with her mother, Claire is left all alone to care for the 18 horses she and her mother owned. As the story unfolds, what is revealed is the horses’ amazing capacity for empathy in the face of human trauma, and the almost psychic ability to provide the author with what had been taken from her. Arising from these horrifying circumstances, the most unthinkable heroes — the horses — show Claire that life is still worth living.

Excerpt #10 from NO SECRET SO CLOSE:

“Hi Claire”, she said, in her bubbly, if somewhat tense voice.

Trying to disguise my shock, I replied, “Oh hi Debbie.” It was a big horse show, and as far as I knew, she had only been showing at the smaller shows.

“I heard about your mom,” she stood back and crossed her arms.

“Yeah”, I responded. This again, I thought to myself.

“So what happened?” she asked, her eyes glaring at me.

“Don’t know,” I replied, looking away.

She stepped closer, “Well did she do it?”

“What?” I stepped back.

“Did she kill him?” she didn’t divert her eyes.

My hand tightened on the crop I had been holding, as rage boiled inside me, “I gotta go, Debbie, my class is coming up.” I turned and started back toward my stalls. “See you later,” I said turning my head to catch one last glimpse of her standing there, the horse completing it’s round in the ring behind her. She didn’t seem like such a nervous young rider anymore. Her face looked almost angry, eyes fixated on me, seemingly appalled at my refusal to discuss the case with her. I didn’t realize I owed it to her. Was this the same person I had helped at the horse shows last year? How could she be so heartless? I felt so cheated having helped her out of good faith, because I wanted her to do well with her new horse. Now it felt like I was being stabbed in the back. I looked down at my hand, starting to cramp. I hadn’t realized how tightly I had been gripping the crop.

Tears filled my eyes, as I took the little black bat with the fluttered tail that popped when you used it and tossed it on the ground next to my tack trunk. I went inside Flying Cat’s stall and sat down in the corner. He’d been resting quietly his eyes half open, and his bottom lip hanging loosely. He turned to look at me, inquisitively. Walking over tentatively, he slowly dropped his head toward my knees.

“How you doing, old friend?” I whispered to him.

He stepped a little closer.

“Sort of seems like we’re all alone in this,” I whispered again.

He stepped closer again.

“Don’t know if we can trust anyone anymore,” I buried my face in my hands.

He stepped closer again, his head almost in my lap.

“Pretty scary thought,” I wiped away the tears, starting to drip on my breeches.

He nuzzled my knees.

“You trying to tell me we’ll be OK?” I asked.

He put his nose to my cheek.

“Is that a yes?”

He stayed right there, breathing softly.

“I hope you’re right”

He didn’t move.

I whispered again, “Just hope you’re right.”

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