Natalie

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Stinky
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:02 pm
Location: Correze 19

Natalie

#1 Post by Stinky »

I met a little girl this summer gone and again a few months later. She touched me deeply.
So I wrote of our meeting.
I hope that this happy story makes you happy as well.
Natalie.

The storm came last night.

With anger, power and a mind to destroy.

2.30 am and Jerome and I are checking on the horses.

Torches not really necessary due to the frequency of the lightning flashes.

Calming the girls in the stables with soft talk and stroking hands.

The boys in the field care not a jot and just turn their backs on the wind and rain.

Walking back and we are lit up again, and I cannot help laughing.

We both look as though dragged backwards through a lake.

Large cuppa is needed.

Sleep does not come and tea in hand I watch as the storm vents it’s fury on anything and everything.

Two trees down, that is the extent of the damage.

Next years firewood.

We got off lightly.

Mid morning, horses fed and talked to, fences checked and all is calm.

A car is parked by the gate.

Huge eyes and tiny fists gripping the metal bar.

The second one from the bottom.

It is all she can reach.

And a Mum standing behind her.

And I know what is coming.

An apologetic smile, and a request.

Gate open and we three walk to Jonquille’s paddock.

Natalie is four and has never seen a horse up close.

Jonquille, my favourite lady, a mother of six is perfect for her.

Her head is not much smaller than Natalie.

The child’s grin is legion but a nervous hand still creeps into mine.

I nod to her Mum and Jonquille plays the game.

Head down and liquid eyes watching, awaiting the touch of a tiny hand.

My hand is loosed and both of hers are on Jonquille.

Her hair pulses with horse breath.

First time near a horse and she kisses Jonquille on the nose.

Mum has tears showing and takes the photo.

Walking back to the gate Natalie again has my hand and mixes skipping with turning and waving to Jonquille.

I tell her Mum to start saving up for a horse.

It is not a bad day at all when you can make two people happy.

I suspect I shall see Natalie again sometime soon.

Carrot for my lady Jonquille and home for lunch.

Happiness is.
.
.
Natalie is back.
I feel rather than see, that someone is at my gate.
No noise.
No calling.
Just two little fists on view.
Holding the uprights.
And I know who is there.
Face hidden by the gate’s solid panel.
But I have seen those little fists before.
Natalie.
Back to see Jonquille.
Open the gate and a waist high child gives me smile worthy of a grand Piano.
Mum is still in the car and the smiley shrug transcends all language barriers.
Tiny hand in mine we walk to the farm.
My hand so big she settles for my thumb.
Excited to the point of skipping.
She is under the gate and running to the paddock before I can open it.
A skidding halt, front of dress grabbed in both hands and a hope and a dream and a wish and a child’s fantasy.
And Jonquille wanders up to her.
I love that horse.
Nose down and nose up.
Horse and child.
Jerome arrives.
I tell him of Natalie’s last visit.
Her first horse, kissed on the nose.
He is gone, but back within minutes.
With a blanket.
Jonquille looks me in the eye, I know, I just know that she understands.
And a child is lifted onto Jonquille.
No fear.
If I could gift that look of joy I would.
Tiny hands out of sight in a copper mane.
Tongue click from Jerome and Jonquille walks a slow circle.
Twice.
And the hiccuppy giggles from Natalie are the best present ever.
I have a little girl jumping up and down in front of me.
And a Mum in happy tears.
I have had worse days.
.
.
Natalie.
A day of great greyness.
Damp, cold and a promise of a cold night.
A bubbly supper is in the cauldron and has been on the wood burner since breakfast time.
This is how you want your kitchen to smell.
A comfort supper that tells you all is well in this world.
My gate squeals and the courtyard gravel crunches.
I need no doorbell.
Natalie’s Mum.
A shy smile and and a gift proffered.
Sliced apples smiling in circles in a pastry.
Cinnamon teasing my nostrils.
Broken, and obviously coached English.
Thank you and Natalie loves you.
Thank you for the horse.
Where is Natalie?
I struggle with her French.
It is late and she is in the car.
Maybe asleep.
A nod from Helen and I go.
Gilet maybe coping with the cold, maybe not.
But some things are important.
Wide eyes and a squashed nose press the back window.
A nod to Mum in the direction of the farm and her smile is the best present that I have ever had.
Ever.
Thumb attached to a skipping child, ears assaulted by a gaspy, gabbling Mum, we go.
’tis just yards, but a lifetime to a child needing her horse.
Five bar gate is open and security lights are on.
Jerome is crossing the yard.
He is busy.
Jonquille is in the bottom paddock, so no visit for Natalie.
Brown eyes, wide, wet and crushed.
A bottom lip is ready to go.
But this is Jerome.
He understands as I do.
A shovel of a hand scoops her up, thrown onto a shoulder and Mum and I follow.
And I know what is to happen.
I just know and I laugh out loud.
Diva is in the stable.
Pregnant with her third.
A lovely lady and just loves people.
She is due now.
And I mean now.
Maybe this night, maybe tomorrow.
Left hand has Jerome’s collar, legs clasping his waist
And Diva is there.
Childs face and hands snuffled.
I promise you, I promise you, you cannot picture that little girls face.
Rapid fire French between Jerome and Natalie’s Mum.
And a move down the horse.
Mum explaining to Natalie.
Jerome takes her hand, and they press Diva’s belly.
The reaction is instant.
A kick and a roll and a squeal from Natalie.
All she can say is ‘A baby, a baby’.
Standing in the cold is nothing, I love my life.

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Char
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Location: Creuse

Natalie

#2 Post by Char »

Thank you so much :D 'tis lovely. I'll re-read it later when I can see properly, 'tas brought tears to my eyes.

Veem
Posts: 1328
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2021 7:00 pm
Location: Near Confolens in Charente

Natalie

#3 Post by Veem »

Oh dear, Natalie. It seems you've caught the bug at the age when many little girls do. There are no vaccines to keep this at bay, nor any treatments or cures. You're stuck with the love bug and it will hopefully be with you for life.

Your words captured this so well Stinky.

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Stinky
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:02 pm
Location: Correze 19

Natalie

#4 Post by Stinky »

Thank you both.
Until I moved to France, the closest that I had ever got to horses was reading Roy Rogers.
They seem to tolerate me, laughing at my efforts to be in control.
Jonquille and I get on though, because she knows that she is the Boss lady.
Jerome quietly smirks.

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Stinky
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:02 pm
Location: Correze 19

Natalie

#5 Post by Stinky »

Been a long time.
Thought that I was forgotten.
But the car is back.
Little fists on my gate.
Screams of, ‘Pol, Pol, Pol!’
Open the gate and a few pounds of pre-school child hits me with a power beyond her weight.
My belt gripped and she is climbing up me.
Ye Gods, such excitement.
Arms round my neck, face in my ear and all I can hear is ‘Jonquille’.
Mum is stood just back a bit.
The Cheshire cat has nothing on her grin.
A girl is with her.
‘Allo Pol, I speak English’.
And so Natalie has been riding a friend’s horse.
But wants Jonquille, her first horse love.
A shrug from me and a nod towards the farm gets a scream from Natalie.
I think her shyness might be in a losing battle.
Phone Jerome to let him know.
Chaotic mischief is coming.
I walk with Natalie.
Fist and thumb.
Mum and girl in the car.
Five bar gate is just limbo’d.
Driveway dust raised by frantic feet.
Feet splayed, knees knocked and a little girl is on a mish.
Jonquille.
She sees Natalie and wanders slowly up the paddock.
No rush.
I will be there child.
Natalie is actually shivering.
The girl looks to Natalie’s Mum with questioning eyes.
The Cheshire cat grin is still there.
Jerome comes, and the rapid French is too fast for me.
Mum and girl dive into the car and boots and helmet are retrieved and fastened onto Natalie.
St Vitus Dance has nothing on this child’s excitement.
Small racing saddle fastened on.
Jonquille, patient as ever.
And a vest for Natalie.
It ties to the saddle and is the the equine version of an airbag.
Seated on Jonquille, she leans and buries her face in a copper mane.
Less of a giggle, more of a cackle, she just exudes joy.
And Jerome vaults up behind her.
No saddle, just knee grip.
Takes the bridle.
Tongue click.
And Jonquille goes.
And not slowly.
I hear Mum gasp.
And she has my hand.
With a grip.
And the screams are legion.
At a fast canter towards us, Natalie has her arms outstretched and is howling joy.
Jerome, arms either side of her, is guiding Jonquille directly towards Mum.
Jonquille plays the game and skitters to a halt, raising dust, just to the side of Mum.
Natalie is dancing in front of Mum.
Think Dervish genes mixed with that of an Irish setter and you get the picture.
Not a bad day.
Both Jerome and I get kissed a lot by happy ladies.

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Blaze
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Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:06 pm
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Natalie

#6 Post by Blaze »

Wonderful stuff, Stinky ! I somehow missed your first writings about Nathalie .... but what a pleasure to catch up with her. Bravo :clap:

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Stinky
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:02 pm
Location: Correze 19

Natalie

#7 Post by Stinky »

The fists are back.
Or rather, they are not.
Just one.
One little fist gripping the gate upright.
Mum by her car, just waiting.
Gate open and Natalie just stands there.
She wants you Pol, says Mum.
And a child stands in front of me.
Plastered wrist.
Rainbowed face.
Purples and yellows screaming outrage at the damage.
The horse?
School steps is the reply.
And a child I have only met four times raises her arms.
Brown eyes wet enough to swim into.
Big enough to lose yourself in.
One arm lift and I have a limpet.
Legs clamped round my waist, one hand gripping my collar and the other held in front of my face.
Jonquille? I say and she nods.
No fist and thumb this time.
My little limpet is not letting go.
Jonquille comes a wandering to see the mini being.
Leccy fence opened and I sit.
Head down and a friendly snuffle to a child’s face.
No excitement this time, just an exploring hand running Jonquille’s face.
These two have something.
Something that many of us will never have.
She cannot ride but I can offer something else.
Nod to Mum and we go to the stables.
One of them is not for horses.
Chickens.
Nine of them and twelve chicks.
Past the fluffy yellow stage, cocky little raptors.
Strutting, running and trying to be fierce.
I sit, bum in the corner and wait.
Mum by the door Natalie still clamped to me.
Five minutes and we are forgotten.
Brooding hen leaves the eggs and just walks past us.
Huge eyes get bigger.
Cockerel checks us out.
We are no threat but he bellows his challenge not a metre from Natalie.
Well done girlie, no fear.
Just a great,gappy grin.
And the raptors come.
Bobbing and cocking heads.
And Natalie is doing the same.
Two walk up my leg and just look at the girl.
Mum is silent, but her eyebrows are pushing for the sky.
And the raptors decide to remove Natalie’s shirt buttons.
And when two start, the others come.
Natalie does not laugh, she shrieks and cackles and snorts and just…….lets rip.
Having saved her from the wicked buttons the chicks get bored and are gone.
We are crying with laughter.
And I wonder about handing back a small giggling child that is covered in bird shit.
Holding her one handed, I point to the eggs.
I take one and hold it out to her.
Shock at the warmth.
But holding it close.
Time to go.
The change in her in just one hour is incredible.
Confidence and Natalie is back.
My gate and a goodnight.
Legs still gripping me.
A childs sloppy kiss and wide eyes that say ‘you are mine’.
And she is probably right.
Collar pulled and a chaste kiss on the forehead from Mum.
Thank you.
But it is Natalie that I thank.
And the chickens.

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Stinky
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:02 pm
Location: Correze 19

Natalie

#8 Post by Stinky »

Yesterday.
A day without rain.
Jean-Marc or J as I call him to his amusement, is here with his Granddaughter.
Wife long gone.
Eyesight just blurred glimpses.
Work broken body, razor mind, wicked humour and no mercy for my butchered French.
Sophie has brought him at my request.
Bacon sandwiches.
Apple branches on the barbecue.
And the bacon is ready.
Dry cured for nigh on three weeks.
Pastis in hand and Sophie negotiates the minefield of our language barrier.
His hand held in love.
He has told her of the Anglais sandwich.
Turn the wood over to settle.
And a hand takes mine.
Natalie, silent by my side.
Fist and thumb.
Everybody laughing, I had not heard her approach.
Kneel and my little limpet is back.
Legs clamped and face in my neck.
Cooking will be one handed.
Six of us ruining shirts with bacon juice.
Natalie of the greasy face takes a shine to J.
Lap sat, finger running through the crevices in his face.
Wispy beard played with.
Battered fingers smooth over her face and hair.
And I can see his tears.
And his smile.
This child has something that the world needs.
Natalie’s Mum.
Shy to the point of retreat.
Our conversations mostly smiles, gestures and a few words.
Sophie leaves J and sits with me.
Aware of the barriers.
And so I ask.
And her name is Natalie.
And her Mother’s.
And her Grandmother’s.
Her Great Grandmother saw Natalie Wood in a film.
And so named her daughter, Natalie.
And all the girls born are Natalie.
Gentle snores.
J has a smile.
A smile that says thank you.
A child is curled, sleeping on his lap.

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