Saturday, December 6, 2008


My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) came to my room last night. Actually, it was about an hour before daylight.

Once she got snuggled in all warm and comfortable, Starr Ann said, "Planets looked real pretty up there tonight."

I said, "Cold as it is, you've been out looking at the sky?"

She said, "Got restless."

Well, I just had to wrap her up a little tighter, thinking how the wind had ripped right through us when we'd gone down to the barn to top off the horses' buckets with hot water.

Then Starr Ann said, "You're pretty sweet on Destiny Jane, aren't you?"

I said, "Pretty sweet."

"Sweet as on Celia Susan?"

I had to think a second before saying, "Different sweet."

Starr Ann's eyelashes are so thick, I can always hear her blink when she's lying beside me in the quiet like that. After a few minutes she said, "Let's just take off for the day."

I said okay, but she acted like she still had some convincing to do.

She said, "We could get on the horses and just ride off. Ride about halfway 'til dark then turn around and ride on back."

Again I said yes, and that time it got through.

Starr Ann threw back the covers and slipped back into her chaps and things before raising my window. When she was half in it and half out, she said, "I'll break the news to the horses. Meet you in the barn."

Even with the cold, we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful sunrise to ride into. It was getting pretty light by the time we turned into that stretch of road where Destiny Jane's truck broke down last year and left that big rut. That was on a kinda long straightaway and before we got to the rut we could see another horse and rider approaching - way out there in the middle of nothing, at that hour of the morning.

A good ways before she reached us, before we could tell by sight, we knew she was a woman because her voice was carrying so far and clear on that crisp air. Then when we got closer, we could see she was talking on her cell phone. That lady passed right on by us with just a little nod of her head, like it's the most natural thing in the world to meet up with people on horseback practically in the middle of the night, but to be too busy talking on the phone to even say hi.

About the the time we were getting over that, we reached the rut and Starr Ann asked, "Has Destiny Jane ever let on her feelings about you?"

I said, "She hasn't made herself real plain, but last time she was leaving she was sitting sideways in her truck with the door swung wide open, facing out at me, and she wanted to know if I ever felt like we'd known each other all our lives."

"So what did you tell her?"

"I said no, I couldn't say as I had."

Starr Ann got that one look on her face, the one where you just know she wants to make a remark, but instead of actually saying it, she's real obvious about how she's holding it in.

I said, "What!"

Starr Ann said, "Margo, next time somebody asks where you fit on the butch-femme continuum and you've got no idea how to answer, just say you're not even on that one, that you've jumped clear over to the cool-clueless scale."

"Well, Starr Ann, what was I supposed to say? What's so clueless about telling the truth?"

"Did I say you're on the clueless end?"

"Am I?"

I didn't really get an answer to that because all of a sudden Starr Ann got all innerested in re-situating her hat. Then for some reason, she had to take her gloves off and put them back on. And apparently her butt was trying to go to sleep, because she had to shift her weight a few times, real deliberate. Anyway, I never did get an answer to that.

After taking good long rest breaks for the horses and a leisurely breakfast on the cinnamon bagels Starr Ann brought, we still got all the way to the Salt River before eleven o'clock, which is when we'd figured we should turn around. I doubt we said eight words the whole way back. But with Starr Ann, sometime that's the best way to figure out what's really on her mind - just stay real close without talking and let the information come through at it's very own angle.

When we got all the way back to that rut spot again, Starr Ann spoke up. "Jodie's just about finished with her book, you know. Things're starting to feel like we're getting to some kind of juncture. Know what I mean, Margo?"

I sure did know what she meant. I said, "No, I don't. Tell me."

Starr Ann said, "I was kind of hoping you'd tell me."

Dang, that girl has a knack for making me feel real important and real apprehensive at the same time.

We just kept on riding, and when we made that turn where you can look down on our whole place and see our sweet house sitting there a little ways up the hill from the barn, we could see smoke rising from our chimney. Without saying it, we both realized Jodie was there and prolly had a nice supper waiting for us.

I pulled back on Trickster and Starr Ann stopped Oatmeal so we could just take in the sight of our place for a minute.

I said, "Know what else I said to Destiny Jane when she asked me that question?"

Starr Ann leaned sideways in her saddle, waiting for me to go on.

"I told Destiny Jane that you're the only forever thing in my life so far, and nothing could really rewrite that."

Starr Ann got that one look on her face, the one I'm not a good enough writer to ever capture in words, and said, "I bet you Jodie has hot bean soup and corn bread waiting for us down there."

I kissed to Trickster to get her moving and said, "Nah. Jodie knows I'm partial to chili on a day like this. It'll be chili."

For the little bit of ride we had left, and all through putting the horses to bed, Starr Ann and I felt light as feathers.

When we got to the house, it was bean soup and corn bread.

That gorgeous image is courtesy of artist
Jessica McMahon.