Sixteen-year-old Andi mounted Shasta and rode at a gallop away from the ranch.
Just an hour ago, she had been happily looking forward to a nice sunny Saturday. But now all that had changed. Chad had come home from town no more than 15 minutes ago and told her the news: Cory was going away to college in San Francisco.
Andi had known for a while that he was planning on going but she had thought he was planning on waiting until after the new school term. He was going to study to be a doctor. He'll be good at it to, if he doesn't scare his patients by bringing them snakes.The thought made Andi chuckle. Ever year at the beginning of the school term Cory would bring a snake to welcome her back to school. It was a fun tradition he had started years ago. Suddenly and without warning, tears came to Andi's eyes. School would start in two weeks, and Cory wouldn't be there. He was leaving next Tuesday, only three days away.
But everyone had to grow up at one time of another. It was her Andi’s last year of school and she wondered what it would be like next year when she wouldn't be going to school. “I should have asked Chad when Cory's coming back for a visit” Andi thought out loud.
Shasta nickered as if in reply to her question. Andi laughed. “I think I’ll go ask him right now.” Nudging Shasta into a canter, she hurried back to the ranch. When she got to the ranch, she saw Chad walking to the barn. “Chad!” she yelled. Chad turned and waited as she rode up to him.
“Chad, when is Cory coming back for a visit?”
Chad grinned, reached into his pocket, and handed her an envelope. “Cory asked me to give this to you. Perhaps it will answer some of your questions.”
Andi snatched the envelope and tore it open. Chad laughed and headed toward the barn. In neat penmanship, Cory had written,
Dear Andi, I hope you will understand why I decided to go before the new school term. If I leave now, I will be able to get a head start on my studies and be able to come home for Christmas. If I waited until after the school term, I would have had to stay at college through Christmas to keep up with my studies. How would you like to have one last race together before I go? If you are able to come to town on Monday morning, we could have a race like old times. You can give me your answer on Sunday.
Andi, laughed. Leave it to Cory to think of a race. He still firmly believed that one day he would win. Thankfully, Shasta had inherited his mother's swift gallop, and Cory always came in second. “I bet Cory already knows what my answer will be. He knows I won't miss a chance to race Shasta,” Andi said, patting Shasta's neck. It's unladylike, but I'm sure mother won't mind just this once.
|Cory at age 17.|
After church the next day, Andi saw Cory waiting for her by the church entrance. Quickly she walked over to him.
“You understand, don't you?” Cory asked anxiously.
Andi smiled. “Of course. I wouldn't want you to have to stay at college for Christmas. You'd get awful lonely.”
Cory grinned. “I thought you'd understand. So, how about the race?”
Andi grinned mischievously. “What do you think?”
“Great! See you tomorrow. We'll meet in front of the livery stable, but don't worry, we won't race through town.” Cory turned and hurried home.