Silk and Shadows

By: Lauren Landish

Jake and Roxy have been supportive, if a little confused by the drastic change I’ve gone through in the last few years. I think Jake is wondering if I’ve had a brain transplant. For the most part, they’re still living a jetsetter, urban trend-setter life and as happy as I am for them, I want something different.

Which is why I’m bouncing around on my toes now, looking more like I’m getting ready to fight Ronda Rousey than go to work. I officially graduated two weeks ago, my bachelor’s degree in hand and my invitation to vet school is pinned to the refrigerator in the small house I rented for the summer.

Sure, I could sit on my ass and take a couple of breather months before jumping into my vet courses, but I’m too much like Jake. I want to do. So I found a summer job in an area where I can be close-ish to my support people, but far enough away that I can stand on my own two feet.

I was lucky enough, and damn well qualified, to snag a summer internship working with a local vet named Doc Jones. It’s a perfect fit, really. He’s well-versed in everything animal related, having likely seen it all and done it all at least once, while I bring what he calls “fresh air” to the office. Better than that, he’s actually a really great teacher, willing to share his knowledge and help me be ready for a career with big animals.

Like today, the reason I’m bouncing. Doc got a call last night, and this morning we’re doing a wellness check on a foaling horse at a ranch way outside of town. A lot better than what I’d expected, which was preparing two thousand doses of vaccine for a local sheep rancher. I’m sure I’ll be sticking sheep in the ass at some point this week, but seeing a live birth? That’ll get me standing here on the curb outside my tiny house in town, two insulated cups of coffee in hand and a thermos of caffeine nectar in my bag at my feet.

It’s nice and crisp right now, but it’s supposed to be hot as balls today. Even so, I need my morning coffee fix, and Doc Jones definitely does. I hear him coming long before I actually see him, his old as hell GMC pickup squealing to a stop in front of me. He looks like he always does, sort of a cross between Sam Elliot and DeForest Kelley, which I guess is appropriate. “Hop in,” he says, reaching over and pulling up the old-fashioned lock on his passenger door. “I just talked to the boy at the ranch and Briarbelle’s foal still isn’t here. If we hustle, we’ll get to see her deliver. You seen that yet?”

I nod, sliding in and handing Doc his coffee. “Oh yeah. Actually, I’ve seen four deliveries. But they were pretty by the book, only one needed a minor assist.”

“Well, I’m thinking this might not be as textbook. Hope you don’t mind some funk.

I shake my head, sipping at my coffee. “I don’t mind. It’s always amazing to see, it’s such a miracle every time.”

I know my eyes are sparkling with anticipation because I’m not just blowing smoke, I really do love to see the miracle and make sure mom and baby are okay.

Doc looks over at me, studying me. “Eager, aren’t ya?”

“Come on Doc,” I complain a little. “Aren’t you just as excited?”

He laughs and pushes the gas on his old truck a little harder. He could afford a new one, but I think he’s determined to run this thing to the half million mile mark before he’ll feel like he’s gotten his money’s worth. “Well, I’ve done this a few more than four times, but I reckon it’s always a sight to see.”

As we drive out, Doc quizzes me on what I’m likely to see, what I need to be concerned about, procedures if this happens, what about if that happens, and more. I nail every single one of them, and as he turns down the last road, he gives me a satisfied grunt. “That’ll do, Miss Sophie. That’ll do just fine.”

I can feel the blush on my cheeks at his praise, pleased to have answered his questions correctly. This might be just a summer job, but I want to be the best at it.

Doc gives me a half smile and makes another little grunt, patting the dashboard.

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