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“So where are we going to go, Mama?” I asked her as I ate my sandwich.
“It is a surprise,” She said raising her eyebrow.
“Do I get to know?” Charlotte asked.
“No,” Mama said.
“Because you’re sitting right next to your sister, that would ruin the surprise for her,” Mama said.
“I think that’s Charlotte’s point,” I said hoping my sister would be on my side.
“No, I just wanted to know where Mama was going to take you.”
I stuck my tongue out at her, wishing Mama would just tell me already. I knew that the sooner I finished my lunch, the sooner I would be able to go. Mama was nearly done with her sandwich, so I scarfed down the rest of my and washed it down with ice water. “Ready?” I said to Mama as I folded the paper plate and put it in the trash.
“Yes, just put on your shoes,” Mama said.
I went to the mud room and put on my shoes. “I’m ready, Mama,” I said to her as she walked into the mud room.
We walked out the driveway where we both climbed up in our Ford F-250, the grey one that was Mama’s. Mama was quiet the entire way into town, I kept the window down and my arm rested on the sill of the window as though it was also another arm rest. I sang along with every song that came on the country radio station.
“Please tell me you’re not taking me dress shopping,” I said as Mama drove up the main stretch on road in town.
“No, that’d be something I’d surprise Charlie with, not you. Though I wish you wouldn’t be such a tomboy, Jasey.”
“How am I a tomboy?” I said as the song ended.
“Well if I was to compare you to Charlie, then yes, you definitely are.”
“But it’s not like I wear boy’s clothing, or spend my entire day playing sports or working in the fields with the guys, and to top it off, I have been kissed,” I said as Mama continued driving.
“Okay, I know. But I can assure you, I’m not taking you dress shopping technically.”
“Technically? Great, so it does have something to do with clothes,” I said.
“You’ll see,” Mama said putting the truck in park.
I hopped out of the truck and walked around the back to Mama. We had a way to walk since we parked at the end of the block, depending where she was taking me. She led the way along the sidewalk and then without notice turned right into the leather shop.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Rayne,” the shopkeeper Stewart said leaning against the countertop.
“How are ya doing Stewart?” Mama said as I followed her into the shop.
“Good, and what about you ma’am?”
My family was treated with respect everywhere, but referring to every woman as missus, or ma’am was expected around here. The shop had been here for ages, this was where everyone bought belts, saddle bags, saddles, equipment, the whole nine yards. It smelled of leather and oil, making my nose curl at first.
“I’m doing quite well. I’ve got the saddle in the back room here,” Stewart moved towards the door. “I’ll bring it out for you.”
I looked up at Mama, my eyebrows raised. “Saddle?”
“You’ll see. Stop being so impatient,” Mama said teasing me.
“I’m only curious,” I said waiting for Stewart to come back. I glanced around the small storeroom. There were belts hanging from racks, each one custom detailed with an ornate design of some sort. Along one wall were a few saddles, starting from basic with very little design to a very ornate saddle with colorful stitching and detailed engravings. There were racks with purses, saddlebags, and other miscellaneous leather items. Near the cashier’s register was a shelf with leather oils, shiners, and weather proofing oils, I was sure that each one had its one strong scent that would make my nose curl.
Stewart came out of the back room with a saddle in his arms. He set it down on the counter next to the register, “What do you think, Jasey?”
I looked it over, my mouth open a little. It was the same saddle I had used for barrel racing and shows for ages, just redone. It was wonderful. It gleamed in the light with a perfect new shine. The fenders had been oiled so they would move much easier. The cantle, front jockey, back jockey, fenders, and skirt were engraved with flowers and swirls. The back jockey had my name engraved into the leather which was then surrounded by flowers.
Jasey Quinn Rayne
The saddle strings were now bright blue instead of the tan leather color. The seat cushion suede material was matching blue. The gullet and Cheyenne roll now had blue studs on it that also matched the saddle strings. I could honestly say that my breath was taken away. My parents had forked out the money to get my saddle custom styled for the rodeo. I ran my hands over the engravings delicately, as though it was an antique and could break at any moment.
“Do you like it?” Mama asked.
I looked at her astonished that she had to ask, “Oh Mama, this is beautiful!” I said then giving her a hug.
“Your Daddy and I figured you would enjoy this,” Mama said.
“I love it. It’s in my favorite color too,” I said moving the saddle strings through my fingers.
“I’m glad that you like it Jasey,” Mama said.
I looked at Stewart, “You guys did wonderfully,” I told him then shaking his hand vigorously.
“Just always putting my best into what I do, Jasey,” Stewart told me.
“Thanks,” I looked at both Mama and Jasey.
I lifted the lightweight saddle into my arms and we walked down the street to the truck. I was amazed that my parents had got my saddle custom detailed. I loved it. I didn’t mind competing with my plain saddle, I always had felt that it just meant I was more dedicated to my sport, but the extra bling made me have the confidence that I could go around the barrels like I had rockets strapped to the back of Peanut. I put the saddle in the back seat of the truck and we started home.
“Was it a good surprise?” Mama asked as we got back on the freeway towards home.