NO SECRET SO CLOSE excerpt #26, 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 #26 from NO SECRET SO CLOSE:

“Come again.”

We trotted back again, and I glanced at Bill’s face. So far no reaction.

He squared the oxer, and pulled the ground lines out a little.

“Canter back over.”

Nimo hopped into the canter with enthusiasm, and galloped roundly toward the oxer. We jumped confidently and cantered off. Still nothing, and Bill raised the rails on each side.

“Okay again.” The oxer was now about 3’9” and square.

Nimo jumped effortlessly.

Bill set the rails higher still, pulled the standards out. The oxer was now 4’0” high and 4’3” wide. “Canter back.”

I cued Nimo into the canter, and he bounced off, eagerly. We squared ourselves to the oxer and he jumped way over the rails, stalled a second too long in the air and caught the back rail with his hind legs on the way down. He landed, shook his head and grunted, angry that he didn’t get his eye on the back rail in time to miss it. He’d held up on the air too long and lost momentum to get across the width on the jump. I searched for Bill’s reaction.

Without saying anything, he rolled the ground rail on the back side of the oxer out about 6 inches. “Come on back.”

I put my leg on, and Nimo cantered off, rounding the corner toward the jump. I kept my leg on, thinking he might be hesitant. Yet as we approached the oxer, Nimo pulled forward. He wasn’t hesitant, he was determined. Keeping a feel on the rein, I let him go. I didn’t want to get in his way. He needed to work this out for himself. Yet I was sure we were going to have the front rail down. As we took the last step, I sat up and pulled my shoulders back to help shift Nimo’s weight back. It was probably the best jump of Nimo’s life. He pulled his shoulders upward and arched his back curling over the rails in a perfect bascule. He created so much upward thrust that it propelled me out of the saddle, creating a weightless sensation at the top of the jump. But there was no stalling, no loss of power like before. He’d got his eye on the back rail this time, and knew exactly what he was doing. All I needed to do was hang on. He landed, shook his head and hopped up into the air, as if to say, that’s how it’s done.

I laughed to myself. Nimo, second guess himself, who was I kidding? I turned just in time to see the grin on Bill’s face.

“Catch a little air up there?”

My grin got a little wider, “I always knew he had wings; guess I got ‘em too.”

“You might need a little superglue for those ones,” he said, nodding toward Nimo.

“Either that, or I’m gonna have to test my own.”

Bill laughed, and lit a cigarette.

“So what do you think?” I asked.

“He knows he can jump, Claire.”

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