"DH + JT"
The woman looked at the cattle as they grazed on the dew tipped grass. The sun was just rising over the snow peaked mountains that surrounded the valley that was her home. She stood on the wood porch breathing in the smells that only the valley could offer, reminding her of her younger days.
She had lived in the valley all of her life, her Pa and Ma had moved here to
Their deaths had come suddenly, like a thief in the night. Shuddering, the young woman remembered it like it was only yesterday. She sighed heavily looking down at the roses that she and her ma had planted. The red and yellow buds shimmered as the sun caught the droplets of water. How she wished her ma was here to see them.
A tear formed in her eye and rolled gently down her cheek to the porch.
She looked up suddenly, fire in her eyes. The woman turned and entered the log cabin returning with a rifle. It had been her Pa’s. He had always used it to hunt, but it wouldn’t be used for that today.
Holding the rifle steady she looked out over the crystal blue lake. The trail that led through the mountain pass and to her home was empty.
Another shot reverberated off of the mountains. Her hand trembled. The cows looked up for a moment and then went back to feeding.
“Stupid cows, don’t they know a storm’s a comin’?”
The woman’s arms trembled as she walked to the edge of the porch. She peered once again toward the mountain, not wanting to see anything but not wanting to wait any longer. Was there dust coming off the trail or was it just her imagination. She shaded her eyes with her hand and looked over the valley once again. Yes, it’s definitely dust.
The woman climbed down the steps and walked toward an old cottonwood tree. She rubbed her hand across a heart that had been carved in the tree a long time ago. It had the letters DH + JT carved in the center.
Another tear, but this one was brushed quickly away. I have to be strong. The dust was coming closer and the sound of hooves on hard dirt sounded in the distance.
The cows stared at the road as the hoof sounds drew nearer. Some of them would moo as if warning the others it was time to be moving on. The calves had all returned to their mothers.
A man, riding a tall dark mustang, flew from behind a bend in the road toward the ranch. Three more men rode close behind; they all had pistols out and aimed at the man in the lead.
The man in front jerked.
The woman nearly dropped the gun her heart skipping a beat. “Johnny.”
Johnny still held on to the horse, barely.
There was white froth coming from the horses’ mouth and blood ran down its mane. The horse stumbled, caught itself and continued the sprint to the ranch.
The woman lifted the rifle to her shoulder and looked down the sight. They were still to far away. What if she hit him?
Another shot and another near miss. Would he make it?
The horse was just outside the fence riding toward the large DJ that hung above the road. He had decided from the beginning that the land should be as much hers as it was his.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
All three of the men fired at once. The bullets thudded into the ground in front of the horse but still it ran.
It had always been her favorite horse. Her Pa had let her break the horse when she had only been ten. She had worked for weeks on the horse training it to follow her every will. Now it carried her would be … her soon to be husband.
The cows scattered making a thunderous noise as the men rode between them.
She could now see the look of determination on the man’s face. He’s so brave.
Sighting down the barrel of the gun she aimed for the man closest to Johnny. She squeezed the trigger. The gun kicked so hard it nearly knocked her to the ground but the bullet flew true.
The man hit the ground with a thud.
She knew she had to be quick. Cocking the rifle, she aimed and fired seconds behind the first. A miss.
The men pulled on the reigns hard causing their mounts to skid to a halt.
The woman smiled. They have no cover. She cocked and fired again.
The man’s shoulder jerked as the bullet ripped through it. He gripped his shoulder and pulled on the reigns to circle the horse around. The other man turned his horse toward her. His face was enraged as the sweat fell from his red face. He looked as if he had come out of one of the children’s stories her Pa had always told her about.
She cocked the rifle again aimed.
A bullet whizzed past her ear. She was unconcerned. He would never hurt her again. He was within fifty yards when she squeezed the trigger. Time seemed to stand still as the bulled soared toward the man.
His head went back. The horse stopped. Slowly he slid from the horse.
Dianne dropped the gun and walked toward Johnny. He had fallen off of the horse and lay in a heap. Could he be dead? Her heart raced and sweat trickled down the back of her neck. She stumbled. What is wrong with my legs? Looking down at the once white wedding gown, which had been her Ma’s, she saw a red stain appearing on her stomach.
Her legs buckled. Falling next to Johnny she reached out her hand toward him.
He looked up.
Those beautiful blue eyes that she had fallen in love with so many years ago shined as bright as ever. Would she ever see them again? Is this the end?
She smiled; knowing that when he smiled everything would be ok.
They clasped hands as the sun rose high in the air.