It was a cold but bright day on DeLaMuerte-Stables. The sky was covered with white clouds, a cold and fresh wind was constantly blowing through the trees while the horses enjoyed their time on the paddocks and in their clean boxes. All new staff members did their work and the old staff worked as hard as before, when they were still few to take care of so much work. Old habits die hard, after all.
Luca Luciano, the co-owner, and Vincent Damato, the owner of DeLaMuerte-Stables, were in the office. Stuck with a huge amount of paperwork, they were quite annoyed and had their hands full with not only the paperwork but also with checking whether the new staff did their jobs correctly.
"Man, I never thought I'd miss cleaning the horse boxes...", Luca sighed and leaned back in his chair exhausted from the work he had already finished. "Well, but we can be glad that we've got no phone calls, right?". As Luca said that he looked over to Vincent and grinned satisfied. But exactly in that moment, the phone rang. An awkward silence was interrupted by a derisive short laugh from Vincent. Before he picked up the phone, he glanced over to his old friend and replied: "Would you kindly repeat that?". Of course he got no response.
"DeLaMuerte-Stables, Vincent Damato at the phone. How may I help you?", he listened to the voice at the phone and his calm expression changed. To a worried expression, much to Luca's surprise. "Yes, thank you.", Vincent leaned back in his chair. "No, it's ok. I will tell her immediately. ...Yes. Good-Bye.". He hund up. Since he blankly stared at the table for a few seconds, Luca asked him: "Do we have some kind of trouble?". Vincent looked over to him without moving his body even an inch. "We don't.", he averted Luca's eyes. "But someone does...".
Luca and Vincent left the office together and walked to the stallion barn after Vincent repeated what he was told at the phone. "You think she'll be alright?", Luca asked worried. Silently walking alongside his friend, Vincent hesitated to answer: "...who knows.".
When they arrived in the barn, DS, one of the most weird members of the staff, old or new, was working all alone in the barn to clean the boxes. When Luca and Vincent called out to her, she was just finished with cleaning the box of DLM's Abd Al-Aziz, the Appaloosa Egyptian Arabian partbred. "Oh, it's you guys!", she smiled and just turned around happily to go into the next box which belonged to DLM's Traumtänzer, the huge Georgian Grande stallion, to continue the cleaning. "What's up? It's so unusal for you guys to be here.". She continued working and started humming a weird melody. Her behavior made it even harder for Luca to speak to her: "DS, we...we need to talk. Would you stop for a second and come out?". "No can do~!", she replied immediately and didn't even turn around. "I gotta finish this by noon, 'cause I wanna go for a ride with this big boy later~.". Vincent and Luca looked at each other and Vincent knew from his friend's expression that Luca wasn't able to do this. So Vincent stepped forward. The big stallion, Dancer, greeted him friendly but was not paid much attention to by the man in front of him. "DS...", he stroked the horses neck and pushed the stallion aside. "We got a call from your home.". "'Cause I didn't come home again?", the young girl just continued the work and didn't look at her boss at all. "Just tell 'em that I'm fine and-". "It's not about you.", Vincent interrupted her quickly and spoke with a voice that just told the girl to turn around and face him. "Something happened...". She stopped cleaning the box, but she did still not turn around. "Is it about my mom?", she asked. "No...", came as a reply from Luca. "...my old dog?", she asked with a softer voice after a pause and turned her head to the side, still not facing the men. "Yes...I'm sorry, she-", Vincent tried his best to form a sentence but was quickly interrupted. "I see.", the girl rose her head and looked out of the box's window. "...I see.".
The two men tried to talk with her but they got no response at all. After around fifteen minutes, the young girl grabbed the tool in her hand tighter and continued working as she did before. The two men stepped closer. "DS, I think you should-", Luca was interrupted right away. "Sorry...no can do.", the young girl had a blank expression, staring at the ground, really concentrated, while cleaning and put them off with a few words. "I gotta finish this by noon, 'cause I...". Her voice started to refuse her orders when the big Georgian Grande stallion suddenly pushed his nose carefully at the girls cheek. The horse saw through her act, the men didn't. At least not before they saw the tears running down her cheeks.
The two men returned to the office. Leaving DS alone in the barn.
Luca often looked back: "Is it really such a good idea to leave her just like that?". Vincent stopped walking and turned around, staring at the barn. "She's acting. Always. I think we've never seen her real self and she does her best to deceive us all. I don't know what she's hiding, but she'll refuse to be herself around us. If we don't leave her alone now, who knows when she'll have the time to cry...".
Both of them walked to the office to continue their work. The other stable members didn't notice anything about the incident. Everyone continued their daily routine.
In the late afternoon, thundering hoofbeats echoed over the grounds of DeLaMuerte. Accompanied by the almost unhearable whines of a young girl...