Andrea Carter looked out forlornly at the rain drizzling down off the school house roof. It seemed that something always happened to ruin her planned days, and then nothing ever happened on the days that she had all to herself, except for chores that seemed to be there all the time, rain or shine.
“Miss Carter, please pay attention.”
Andi jerked her attention away from the window, feeling her face redden as a titter went across the room. Mr. Foster was looking at her sternly. Andi hastily muttered an apology. She felt Cory give her braid a slight tug of sympathy, and Andi gave him a grateful smile while her teacher’s back was turned. She quickly went back to her work, and the remaining hours actually seemed to go by quicker.
The teacher at last rang the bell, and everyone filed out. Cory and Jack met her outside the school. Jack Goodwin was now Andi’s friend again, after the episode of him hanging out with the town’s bully, Johnny Wilson. Now tagged along with her and Cory, although it probably would have saved him some mishaps if he hadn’t.
“Are we still going to race?” was Cory’s eager question.
Andi looked first up at the gray sky, threatening to really gush at any moment, then down at her recently cleaned school dress. She bit her lip, sorely tempted.
Cory must have known what she was thinking. He sighed and looked up at the sky too. “Alright, we’ll wait until a different day.”
Andi gave him the second grateful look of the day. Jack shrugged, obviously disappointed, but he agreed too, though silently.
They parted ways, and Andi walked towards Justin’s law office to wait for him inside shelter. She walked with her head down, and carefully tried to keep her shoes from getting muddy.
Suddenly, a stagecoach went by, splattering not only her shoes, but her dress, her face, her arms, and her hair. Andi felt tears well up into her eyes. All the hard work she had gone to keep herself neat, and now look! At least if I had raced with Cory and Jack it would have been worth the scolding, she thought. Swallowing her tears, more angry then sorry now, she marched the rest of the way to her brother’s office, aware of the stares she was getting from the townspeople.
She threw open the door into the office, and then, realizing that her anger would do no good, closed it again behind her carefully. Her brother’s clerk, Tim, was filing some paperwork. He looked up when Andi came in, and raised his eyebrows at her appearance.
“Did you get into a fight again, Miss Carter?” he asked.
Andi tried to ignore his sarcastic comment, though she reddened to the ears. “I need to speak to Justin,” she said hotly.
Tim grinned and pointed at her clothes. “Like that?” he asked.
Andi almost punched him. “It was an accident. I was walking here, and a stagecoach went by, spraying mud all over me. It wasn’t my fault.”
The clerk looked at her doubtfully. “An accident?” he said, as if trying to believe his ears.
“Yes, an accident!” Andi practically shouted. “Now will you let me see my brother, or do I have to burst in without warning?”
He thought about this. “Alright, alright, go on in. Your brother is available right now I believe.”
Andi swallowed her anger, giving Tim one last glare before going into Justin’s office.
Justin was at his desk, which was piled high with letters. He put the one he was in middle of down when he saw Andi and motioned her to sit down with a smile. “What’s wrong Andi? You look terrible,” he said with concern, not blame, in his voice.
Andi’s anger melted under Justin’s worry. “It was an accident,” she said. “All I was doing was trying to get to your office to let you know that I’m ready to go home without getting dirty, and a stagecoach went by and sprayed me. I’m really sorry.”
Justin gave her a smile. “I believe you,” he said. “And I’ll be ready to go home too, as soon as I’ve answered this letter. Why don’t you wait out with O’Neil or on the bench outside, if it’s stopped raining, until I’m ready?”
“You’re the best brother!” Andi said, giving her brother a quick hug, careful to not smudge his outfit, and went outside. Andi was still far too angry to wait inside with Tim, raining or not.
Outside, although still raining lightly, it was better smelling then inside the inky, smoky clerk’s office. Andi rested her head against the wall of the office, closing her eyes to the world for the time.
In her mind she was riding Taffy up and down the range, when a hand clamped over her mouth, and a blindfold put over her eyes.