The Law of Moses
Author:Amy Harmon


DAD SAID HORSES REFLECT the energy of the people around them. If you’re scared the horse will shy away from you. If you doubt yourself he’ll take advantage of you. If you don’t trust yourself, neither will he. They are truth detectors. It isn’t rocket science. It isn’t voodoo. There’s a reason you give a horse his head if you’re lost. He’ll always take you home.


It hadn’t escaped me that the horses were afraid of Moses. And if Dad’s theory was correct, it was because Moses was afraid, and the horses were simply mirroring a very powerful emotion. Horses scare some people. They’re so big and powerful, and if it’s you against a horse, well, the horse will kick your ass.


But I didn’t think Moses was afraid of the horses. Not exactly. I was pretty sure Moses was just afraid in general. Anxious, desperate, manic. Whatever. And our horses knew it.


“You know how Sackett kicked me?” I asked my dad one morning as we were getting ready for a counseling session.


“Yeah,” my dad grunted.


“He was just mirroring Moses, wasn’t he?”


My dad looked up sharply, not liking the suggestion that Moses wanted to kick me in the head.


“Moses is afraid, Dad. I think he paints because it releases a lot of nervous energy. But I was thinking maybe we could get him around the horses, maybe help him that way too.”


“First rule of therapy, George,” my dad said.


“What’s that?”


“You can lead a horse to water . . .”


“. . . but you can’t make him drink,” I sighed, finishing the old maxim.


“That’s right. You might be right about Moses. And I’m sure we could help him, when and if he wants our help. Kids, married couples, people with addictions, people who are depressed, everybody and almost anybody can be helped by equine therapy. I’ve never known a man who couldn’t be helped by spending time with a horse. But it’s really up to Moses. You’re pretty headstrong, George, but you’ve met your match with that boy.”


I was convinced I had. Met my match, that is. Maybe that kick to the head or the brush with violence at the stampede had permanently altered me, maybe it was his role as savior, or maybe I had just fallen in love with the artist who brought a white horse to life on my bedroom walls, but I couldn’t get Moses out of my thoughts. I found myself looking for him from the moment I stepped outside in the mornings until the moment I gave up in the evening and went home. His grandma was calling in favors right and left, and once Moses finished doing odd jobs for my dad, he started repairing fence for Gene Powell, which would probably take him the rest of the summer, considering how many acres Gene Powell had. On top of that, he’d been hired to do some demolition inside the old mill west of town that had shut down twenty years before.


I could make up reasons to be riding along the fence line, but the old mill was a different matter entirely. I figured I would cross that bridge when I got to it, but I was already plotting. I didn’t let myself think about my infatuation, because then I would have to acknowledge it. And I wasn’t the kind of girl to be infatuated or to get caught up in crushes, the kind of girl who checked her lips or fluffed her hair when boys were around.


Yet, I found myself doing just that, loosening my braid and running my hands through my unbound hair as I approached the edge of Gene Powell’s property on my horse in late July. I had Moses’s lunch. I’d made sure to intercept Kathleen on her way out and had casually mentioned that Sackett and I were headed this way. She smiled at me like she wasn’t fooled, and I felt pretty stupid. Kathleen Wright might be eighty years old, but I was sure she didn’t miss much. Especially since I’d just happened to stop by three days in a row, just in time to bring Moses his lunch.


When Moses saw me coming he didn’t look pleased, and I wondered for the umpteenth time what I’d done to piss him off.


“Where’s Gigi?” he asked.


“Who’s Gigi?”


“My grandma. She’s my great-grandma—two G’s in a row. GG.”


“I seen her heading this way, and I thought as long as I was out riding, I may as well bring your lunch.”


“You saw her heading this way.” He looked up at me with disgust. “Not seen. And it’s ‘we were’ not ‘we was.’ You say that wrong too.”


It didn’t sound wrong to me, but I made note of it. I didn’t want Moses to think I was stupid.


“Everyone in this town says it wrong. My grandma says it wrong! It drives me crazy,” Moses grumbled. He was in rare form today. But I didn’t mind that he was complaining as long as he was talking to me.


“Okay. I’ll fix my grammar. You want to tell me what else you don’t like about me? ‘Cause I’m thinking that isn’t all,” I said.


He sighed but ignored my question, asking a few of his own. “Why are you here, Georgia? Does your dad know you’re here?”