NO SECRET SO CLOSE excerpt #24, 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 #24 from NO SECRET SO CLOSE:

Just then, the comforting sound of horses rustling in their stalls was broken by Alex’s voice. “Claire what are you doing up here?”

I didn’t bother to turn my head. “Feeding the horses.” I pulled the first pieces off of the bale and tossed them in the cart.

“Well, we need you to help make fliers.” He positioned himself between me and the hay cart, more or less blocking me as I tried to work.

“I can’t, Alex. I’m sorry.” I tossed another flake of hay into the cart.

“Why?” He moved in closer. He had a piece of paper in his hand with a photo of my father’s face copied onto it.

“I just can’t, Alex,” I said, my eyes catching the photo.

“I don’t get it. Why not?” He crossed his arms over his chest, the photo faced outward.

I put the hay down and turned toward him. “I live here, Alex. I don’t want any of these people coming after me.”

“What the hell does that mean?” He took another step closer.

I turned back toward the hay and reached to pull off another flake, but paused. “It means I’m scared.”

“So what?” He raised his voice in anger. “We have to find out what happened to Dad.”

“Alex, look, I don’t trust anyone around here. Just let the police handle it, ok?” I put the last flake of hay in the cart and pulled the tarp down.

“How can you be like that? We have to do something. Don’t you even care about Dad?”

I let go of the tarp and turned to face him. “Of course I care about Dad, Alex. It’s got nothing to do with that.”

“Well, then what does it have to do with?” His knuckles were pale as he gripped his own arms in anger.

“I’m terrified, ok? This place doesn’t feel safe, I don’t know what the hell is going on, Mom is a mess, we’ve got way too many horses, the groom quit, and I don’t have any idea what the hell I’m going to do!” The panic in my own voice surprised me.

“So just screw Dad, huh? That’s great, Claire.” He turned on his heel and walked back down to the house.

I leaned back against the hay bales and watched him. It had started to sprinkle again, and a lightning bolt streaked through the sky beyond him. The loud thunderclap that followed shook me and startled the horses. It was clear Alex would never forgive me.

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