|Photo by John C. H. Grabill|
Coil of rope, gloves, bandana, leather pants, pistol. Jackson really embodied the Old West. Janie giggled. The horse looked as unamused as her rider.
“You cut that out now, y’hear?”
Janie rolled her lips between her teeth, stifling the laughter. Maggie – the horse – shook her head in a complex figure eight.
Jackson patted her neck, sighing. “You wanted to do this, remember?” The western drawl disappeared. “Your dad would kill me if he found out.”
Janie swished her long, ruffled skirt, sobering. Her mother’s costume fit her well. Jackson dismounted and stalked toward her.
“You look just –“
“I know.” That was all anyone’d said to her since she’d put on the dress.
“Changed your mind?”
Janie squinted at him from beneath her brows. Maggie snorted. Jackson cocked his weight into one hip, watching her patiently. Janie dropped her gaze, twisting the toe of her boot in the dust.
“It’s alright, kid.” She hated when he called her that. “Just run and get Sarah.”
Janie’s chin lifted several notches. “I can do this.”
“You’ll giggle, or cry. Not exactly playing the part.” Janie’s eyes decided to water. “Listen, your dad’s right. You’re too young for this – maybe in a couple years…”
“My mom started when she was fourteen!” Janie claimed defiantly. “Besides, Sarah’s got the day off.”
“Well we’ll get by without a bargirl, then.” He turned back to Maggie.
“Jackson!” She called, petulantly, but the tears were gone.
He sighed again, lips twisting as he nodded. “Alright, kid. C’mon.”