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Confidence is Key by Brooke Bloom

artwork by Rachel Spicer


On a warm summer Tuesday little, innocent me was prepared to have a fun-filled day. I was unaware of the events that would later occur and change my life. As a young, dumb, and small nine-year-old, I thought every day was perfect. I lived with my family in a beautiful, large tan house on a gravel road just off the highway. A long uphill, driveway led to our house and a large shed that held our farming equipment and bucket bottle calves. This gravel driveway was my best friend at the time. My older brother Blake and I would ride our bikes and scooters, often racing up and down the drive. We loved our driveway and seemed to use it as our playground. At least, that’s how I used to feel.

My parents purchased three bucket bottle calves the previous winter, one for each of my siblings and me. We were shocked, and a little apprehensive, when they informed us of their purchase, but the first thing we did when we received them was name them. My oldest sister, Skylar, named her calf Blaze because of the white lightning bolt mark that was placed on his head. My older brother, Blake, decided to name his calf Black Magic because his cow was all black and magically would escape his pen. I named my calf, Peaches, not because I liked peaches, but after the wooly mammoth from Ice Age.

These calves were a big responsibility that required us to walk, feed, and water them every day. Blake, Skylar, and I were great at feeding and watering, but struggled with the walking. My calf, Peaches, was the nicest of the three, but she was also the biggest. Peaches’ head went up to my shoulder. Somehow, I found the strength to keep her under control and walk her. Black Magic was also tolerable to walk; he was short, light, and didn’t have a temper, so he was easy to control, even for my small self. Blaze was the worst of the three. He was medium in size, but massive in spirit. Blaze loved to jump, buck, and be an overall pain in the butt.

There was a summer day where Blake was gone and chores were up to Skylar and me. I walked outside in my beat-up tennis shoes fully prepared to assist Skylar. When I went out there I walked and fed Peaches, just like any other day. Skylar had walked and fed Black Magic and informed me that I would need to walk and feed Blaze since she still had horse chores to do. My nine-year-old self was petrified, certain that my lovely sister had sentenced me to death. Even though I was insanely scared, I fed Blaze with no issues and put on his blue rope halter just like I had done with Peaches. Blaze was acting nonchalant and for the first time, I had confidence in our situation. I took him out of his small, but safe pen and began to walk him out of the shed. Once we got out of the shed and into the hot summer sun, Blaze began throwing his head. As Blaze and I were walking, I felt each piece of gravel shift under my feet; the instability created an immense fear within me.

It seemed as though Blaze could sense my fear and started to throw his head side to side, up and down even more. I attempted to calm him down but to no avail. No more than three seconds later, Blaze took off running. I held my ground for a moment or two, with short stuttered steps, but it didn’t take long for him to take me to the ground with a bang. My grip on his halter was still tight, and my will to not let go was even stronger. I refused to let go. Sharp gravel pieces scraped across my leg, hip, side, and face as Blaze dragged me across the gravel drive. As I screamed, Skylar ran my way and yelled at me to let go. I decided that she was wiser, so I did.

Sliding to a stop on the loose gravel, I could feel the pain of my trip with Blaze for the first time. From both pain and the crushing feeling of defeat, I lay with my face stuffed into the jagged rocks for what felt like an eternity. As I lay there I regretted my lack of belief and trust in myself. The gravel pieces jabbing me felt like the result of my own self-doubt. Skylar ran over, picked me up, and set me on the flat concrete slab in front of the garage. Luckily, my mom worked from home so Skylar ran in, got my mom, and then ran back outside to catch Blaze. Horrified by my fresh bloody wounds, which resembled a redneck variation of road rash, my mom quickly fixed me up, brushing away tiny pebbles on my legs. After that day, I never walked Blaze again.

That is one day that I will never forget. The lessons, pain, and fear I had will live on with me for the rest of my life. As I look at my gravel driveway today, I can still feel the jabbing of the sharp, rugged gravel. I still remember the fear within me—but from that day on, I’ve focused on having confidence in myself in all of my endeavors. Getting dragged by a calf was a difficult way of learning that confidence is key.

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