In slow motion Celeste strips off her dirty clothes, and sinks her stinky body in the bath tub. She sits motionless watching the water fill up in the tub and shuts the water off when done. She begins to whimper softly her tears of fears regarding her papa’s death. The cowgirl whispers out, “I could have saved ya my father. Stupid me, why didn’t I call the doctor instead of listening to ya?” She covers her face with her hands and lets her sorrow spew forth. It takes the half-breed over an hour to wash her dirty body clean after her melt down. Her hair was another story when she touched the long curly golden mop. She feels the clumps of matted hair and begins the long process of washing the mass. Celeste reached for the conditioner and empties the contents of the gooey substance in her hair to try and de-tangle the mess. She waits for ten minutes and rinses it out of her head. “Come on Celeste I’m waiting for you,” Mr. Spencer knocked on the door with his soft request.
Celeste wraps her towel around her body and grabs another for her hair. When said and done she opened the door and tipped toed to her father’s room. Since she had no clean clothes and didn’t want to go to her bedroom to let Mr. Spencer see her in a towel, she pulled out Henry’s dresser drawer where he kept his large t-shirts and boxer shorts. She spots a pretty wrapped yellow box and softly touches the red ribbon binding. “Papa,” she whispers out and takes the small box out of his drawer. Celeste pulls the ribbon free and carefully opens the box. Inside is a beautiful gold necklace with a horse shoe, she lets the tears fall in gratitude her father hadn’t forget her birthday. Celeste sits on the edge of Henry’s bed to study the necklace. Mr. Spencer calls out again clicking her out of thinking about her papa. She gently places the gift back in the box, and puts it back in the drawer for a later time.
Celeste puts on her father’s shirt and shorts and is ready to leave his room when she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Dark circles surrounded her two different color eyes, her cheeks were sunken in from lack of nutrition, and lips were cracked and dry. She pulls off the towel from her head and realizes what a mess her hair has become without the care of brushing and combing. Instantly she looks away from the mirror and puts her towel back on her head, and leaves Henry’s bedroom to join Mr. Spencer in the kitchen.
“About time, I was wondering if I had to come in there and drag your rear-end out. You look more presentable Celeste, sit down and have a bite to eat we have lots to talk about.” Celeste obeyed without words and sat at the round table. “Eat girl so you can process everything I am about to say to you,” he quietly offered. Celeste didn’t pick up the fork, she sat without moving and stared at the letter from Henry in the middle of the table. Mr. Spencer places a glass of lemonade in front of Celeste, and sits down across the table from her. The air is thick with unspoken words while Mr. Spencer eats and Celeste stares into abyss. He decides to plunge forward and speaks to Celeste with care.
“You’re grandfather wrote me a note Celeste, he has paid me in full to educate you until graduation. Since you’re brilliant in your studies if we work throughout the year you could finish before you turn eighteen.” Celeste doesn’t register Mr. Spencer’s words as she stares at the letter in the center of the table. He gives her a glance and sees her orbs on the letter, “Go ahead read it,” he offered softly to the cowgirl. “No, I can’t right now sir,” she replies and continues onward. “Ya don’t have to stay Mr. Spencer I don’t care if I finish school or not, besides the forest will take care of me, not school so you can keep the money and be on your way.” He dropped his fork on his plate and spoke firmly to the girl. “Bull crap I take my job seriously Celeste especially when I am paid for expecting to finish a job. Education kills our ignorant society, and your intelligent mind would be a sad thing to waste without proper education.” He picks up his fork again and begins to eat while Celeste ponders on his words and didn’t touch her plate of food.
Mr. Spencer slides a newspaper towards Celeste and states, “Nice job cowgirl.” Celeste is confused with his statement until she lays eyes on the front page of the newspaper. Slowly her hand reached out to touch the paper and slid the news to view her riding on the bucking bronco in the rodeo. She shows no reaction until she sees her grandfather’s face in the back drop of the picture. Henry is smiling from ear to ear watching his little girl ride the bronco. Celeste pushes the newspaper away in sorrow and doesn’t reply, she stares again at the letter from her grandfather in the center of the table.
After an hour of listening and watching Mr. Spencer’s lips move to his words, Celeste stands up and said, “I must take care of the animals so if you please excuse me I am sure you can find your way out. Thank you for dealing with my bad-ass self, I meant no harm to you or others just keep you’re distance from me right now and I will get a handle on my self sooner or later.” She turned on her heels and headed outside to escape the feelings of being suffocated. Mr. Spencer cleans up the table, and gives the newspaper one more look before leaving. He brings the paper closer to his vision and sees what Celeste saw, “How stupid I am, why didn’t I see Henry’s mug shot in the damn picture before I gave this too her, son of a bitch!” There was nothing he could do about it, so he left the paper on the table and left Celeste’s home with a heavy heart.