From Chapter One
Drummer looked at me and sighed. "What am I doing in this dump?" he seemed to say. I knew exactly how he felt. Ever since my mom and I had moved to our new house I had been sighing. A lot. Moving meant that my pony Drummer moved, too-there was no way I was leaving him behind; it was bad enough us both having to leave all our friends! So my mom and I had searched the DIY stables close to our new (teeny-weeny) house and we found one we liked in an old farmyard with a view over what would have been parkland in days gone by, with lovely old trees in the field and cornfields beyond that. With an entrance hidden along a tree-lined track, Laurel Farm was old and full of character with ancient wooden stables and an oak tree in the yard, a lazy brindle greyhound called Squish, assorted cats draped over straw bales and buckets, and a rather crazy woman in charge called Mrs. Collins. She seemed to walk around the yard in her slippers all the time.
I don't know why, and I can't say I cared enough to ask. When we had first visited the yard, it had been a sunny day and there were ponies in the field and in the stables and girls in the yard who seemed to be about my own age. The big news was spying a chestnut mare with a white face being ridden in the outdoor school by a really cute boy-not that that had influenced my choice of stables, you understand. Well, maybe just a little. I mean, he was hot and you don't get many boys, let alone hot boys, at stable yards. I decided that if we had to move (and, apparently, we did have to because my dad had moved out of our house and in with his skinny new girlfriend, meaning we had to move to somewhere much, much smaller that Mom could afford by herself), I might as well be at a yard with a hot boy around!
Anyway, it wasn't sunny when I moved Drummer to his new home; it was raining and the yard was dank and wet with puddles everywhere and there was no sign of the hot boy-only rain dripping from the gutters and straw blowing around like trash. And I spotted a rat scurrying behind the muck heap. Oh, great, I thought, Drum has pets. It looked like a dump. Plus, all the other ponies were out in the fields so he was on his own in a block of three-with Drum in the middle stable. The nameplates on either side of the two stable doors declared that they were the unoccupied homes of Bambi and Moth. The three stables opposite had the nameplates Bluey, Tiffany, and Dolly Daydream on their bottom doors, and farther stables around the corner were the homes of Mr. Higgins, Lester, Pipp in, and Henry, apparently. All empty. No wonder my pony was irritated-this was to be his new home and I could tell he was far from impressed! "Sorry, babe!" I whispered to him. "The only other yard I liked was way too expensive and this one is close enough to bike to."
I put Drum's tack on the spare saddle rack and bridle hook in the tack room before transferring all his other belongings from Mom's car to the barn where everyone had their place for feed, cleaning-out tools, rugs, and grooming kits. Then I mixed Drummer's evening feed.
He's just over fourteen hands, the most gorgeous bright bay, without a single white marking anywhere. Totally bay is Drum! Seeing me arrive with the bucket cheered him up a bit and then, after checking his hay net and water bucket and kissing his nose, I kicked the bottom bolt shut on his stable and walked to Mom's car. I didn't dare look back because I knew Drummer would be looking after me accusingly, his eyes saying, "You're not leaving me here, are you?"
"How's our boy doing?" asked Mom, twiddling with the car radio. She had followed the horse trailer we'd hired to transport Drummer to his new home and had been sitting inside while I settled Drum, the noise of music from the CD player and radio muffled by the sound of raindrops.
"He's OK. Although he probably thinks he's been sold," I added, glumly. I didn't mention the rat. I've discovered it is best not to worry parents with the everyday comings and goings of wildlife at a stable yard. They never understand and start muttering hysterically about rabies and the like. I felt depressed enough already.
I spent the evening sticking up Drummer's photographs and award ribbons in my new (teeny-weeny) bedroom (which has flowery wallpaper-disgusting-and I can't wait to paint it. I'd love dark purple walls, but Mom's really against it and says the room's too small. She'd got a point because our new house is a two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs style cottage. Tiny. So Mom has said no to purple walls. I think she's scared I'll turn into a Goth. No chance-I can't wear a bunch of piercings with a riding hat; I'd look totally odd. Anyway, with all she's been through lately with Dad running off with Skinny Lynny (or at least that's what I called her), I didn't want to upset her. I'll have purple walls later on when she's more like Mom, if that ever happens).
With tomorrow being Saturday, I planned to cycle to the yard early and get to know the locals. Me and Drum had such a great time with our friends at our last yard. There was a whole gang of us, and when we weren't riding, we were always hanging around and enjoying just being with our ponies. Remembering how it had been made me homesick. I don't miss our old house, but I really miss my old riding friends. I bet poor Drummer's homesick as well. After all, he's left his old pals, too. And it's all Lyn's fault. And Dad's.
Anyway, once the ribbons and pictures were on the walls, my room looked a bit better, even with the old lady decor, and I went down for dinner with Mom. She's been better since we bought this house-she was really sad until we moved out of the house we'd lived in with Dad. We were both stunned when he said he'd found someone else (he said he hadn't meant to, he didn't want to hurt us, Lyn was his soul mate, blah blah, yak yak, yeah yeah). I couldn't understand it, I mean, he and Mom are married. They're my parents. How come he can leave both of us for that...that... well, Mom and I think Dad's so-called soul mate might have an eating disorder (I almost hope so). And she wears designer clothes and has superstraight hair. Which is streaked. She's not all bubbly and funny like Mom (or how Mom used to be before the soul mate stole Dad away); Lyn's just all snotty and cold. Whenever I've seen her, she's just looked bored. I hate her. She's a witch and she's cast a spell on my dad. I just can't understand what he sees in her. It's not like she's drop-dead gorgeous, just thin and pale with a face as long as Drum's tail. Yuck.
Mom's not like Skinny Lynny. She's in her early thirties and she used to be a bit chubby-although she's lost lots of weight lately, stress, I guess. She mainly wears jeans and a T-shirt and her hair is sort of wavy and just one color-kind of darkish blond. I've got reddish brown hair like Drummer's coat-oh, and my dad. When Dad first moved out of our last house, Mom said he was having an early midlife crisis and he'd be back, but he didn't come back and we had to move here. Before we did I heard Mom talking on the phone to her (nightmare, I'll fill you in later) friend Carol from work, saying that when we moved she was going to have a makeover, like those sad women on TV. Not surgery, we can't afford it, but hair and makeup and stuff. Scary!