Chapter 1 - The Arrival
The yard was deserted. Not a single living thing could be seen and the only sound to be heard was my taxi driving away, until its smooth humming disappeared too.
Alma meowed in my arms.
“I know, you’re tired. I’m sorry I broke your carrier”, I whispered to the cat leaning on to my chest and looking up at me. I had indeed cracked the plastic carrier so that it wouldn’t hold Alma’s weight anymore, so I had had to make her wear harness and to be carried around almost the whole journey here. Poor thing, her legs must be feeling stiff.
The chilly autumn wind rose and rustled the yellowish leaves of the trees. There was a single crow flying over the yard, heading to the same woods the taxi had just driven through. Sure it was 7pm already, but the fog made the yard look even darker than it’d be on a sunny evening.
The only signs telling the farm wasn’t totally abandoned and left on its own, were the lights and the slightly open door to the barn, held open by a bag of oats. In the middle of a yard so quiet, empty and lifeless, the open door was an invitation. I grabbed the handle of my sports bag, my only luggage besides my handbag. The rest would follow, or then they wouldn’t.
The bag was surprisingly heavy, even though it only had my clothes and personal items in it. I waddled forward until I reached the barn and slipped in, leaving the too heavy bag in front of the door.
The barn was dark. Absolutely dark. The floor was the shade of charcoal and the bricks which the stalls were built of, well, slightly brighter, perhaps the shade of graphite. The wooden and steel parts were of dark turquoise colour, which didn’t pop out but still made the barn look like someone had designed it. My aunt, perhaps?
It was as deserted as the yard had been. No humans, no horses, no pets. Not even a mouse could be seen. The aisle was empty - Sure there were racks and stands for rugs, blankets, bridles and saddles, but they all held no items.
I crouched to let Alma jump on to the stone floor. She sat down and curled her tail cautiously around her body, gaping around with eyes the size of dinner plates. Holding the leash, I peeked in to one of the stalls. It had bedding, but it was untouched. No hoof prints or even a hint of dirt or manure. Was there even horses here?
“I assume you are Miss Rosanna Lind.”
Startled, I jumped back, almost stepping on Alma who had to leap further, flinging her tail in displease. I turned to face the comer. He was a man, old, probably had at least 60 years behind him already. He had hair the same shade of my dyed one, although his was already greyish. His eyes were stinging and ice blue.
The man approached me and I fought the urge to step back. He grasped my free hand in both of his, embracing it.
“You look just like your mother, I’ve seen a picture of her”, he said, even though I hadn’t even told him yet if I actually was ‘Miss Rosanna Lind’.
“My name is Samuel Olsson. I used to be the head of staff here, your aunt’s right hand, so to say. I retired some years ago, but I promised your auntie I’d be here to welcome you.”
I cleared my throat, my alertness starting to wear off.
“It’s nice to meet you, Samuel. My name is indeed Rosanna Lind.” I said, shaking his hand.
“Delightful! So how are you feeling? Do you like the barn?” Samuel questioned.
How was I feeling? Three months ago I had been planning on which university I’d like to apply, when my mother came to me and told me her sister had passed away. I had never been close to Aunt Ester, but I felt sorry for my mum. A week later the real bomb was dropped when I was told Aunt Ester’s will stated her equine stud was now mine.
I didn’t want to accept it at first. I was experienced with horses, sure, but owning a barn? Owning a whole stud, which was supposed to breed horses? Most of all, running a business?
But here I was, after making a promise to my parents that I would try, I certainly would try. I wasn’t alone, my parents were willing to help me anytime and it seemed like I had one more adviser in front of me.
“The barn is beautiful, a little gloomy, but still beautiful. But where is everyone? I assumed this was a large stud, based on what my mother has told me”, I wondered, eyeing the dark colour of the walls. I dodged the feelings question purposefully - I didn’t want to tell him I was terrified and feeling anxious, but I didn’t want to lie either.
“Well, I’d say part reason for the gloominess is because I’ve stored all items and tack, so they wouldn’t be collecting dust here”, Samuel shrugged, looking around before focusing his eyes on me again.
“And about the staff, they’re all suspended. There just wasn’t any work to do anymore. A few of them still come here though, just to spend time. Actually, your first task as the head of the stud is probably to decide what to do with the staff.”
I gulped. Did he expect an answer now, immediately? I felt like a peasant girl who was made a queen and put on a throne. Do I have to be the reason why all those people no longer will have their jobs? Terrible! But a farm this quiet won’t need staff, at least not much, right? I suddenly felt really hot, my hands shaking a bit.
“I- I will contact you tomorrow morning on this subject… I will need your number for that.”
“Gladly, I was already going to say I’m willing to help you out on any matter. I know how things worked here before you, so I can help you adjust. Remind me later to write my number down for you.”
I felt relieved. No decisions today.
“Great. So, if I may ask… Where are all the horses?”
A wide grin spread onto Samuel’s face.
“I thought you’d never ask. Follow me, my lady.”
Feedback time! So, I'm feeling quite anxious right now because I'm not really sure about styling the dialogue. I think the bolding and the indentations makes it stand out nicely, but because of the indentations, I had to move some lines to different places from where I first wrote them. So I'm afraid now it's kinda confusing? Do you think it's hard to tell who said what?
P.s. Samuel appears quite with a nonexisting personality, but that's just because he's not an actual character of mine and won't be seen a lot in the future.