The Olympian and the Orphan

(Make sure you marry someone who laughs at the same things you do.

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye)

Chapter one: Flying home.

~O&O~

Brenda looks out of the plane window, at the bright blue cloudless sky. Her life was busy and hectic but she loved it. Most of the time she was based at her home away from home in New Jersey, with parts of the winter spent in Kentucky, getting time to go back to what she considered her her real home was hard.

She was confused by her feelings of her parent's decision to relocate to sunny Cali. She wouldn't get that same going home feeling, as her childhood home would be gone. She was pleased for her father, that he got a promotion, he'd worked hard for years and deserved it. But her and her family's lives were heading in such different directions.

She looked up, when the flight attendant asked if she wanted a drink, she asked for a Pepsi max and glass of water. After her big win, she gotten lucky and picked up a whole host of sponsor ship deals. One of her favourites being with an airline, meaning her and chaperone and newest team mate, got to take a left when they boarded the plane, and that certainly made things easier for him.

Last year she'd taken part in youth Olympics, she'd got a gold in the individual jumping and silver in the team event. The last year had been action packed, with interviews, photos shoots and none stop training, along with necessary competitions, she was nearly qualified to compete for her first full Olympics on the adult team. Her mentors and trainers were all pleased with her commitment to applying herself to the broader discipline of eventing.

She sipped her drink, and flipped through the inflight magazine, blushing when she found a picture of herself, that's one thing she didn't think she would ever get used to. Glad for the first class seat, and less chance of getting recognised. She didn't mind being approached for an autograph or picture, and chatting to young fans who liked riding, and wanted to compete like her. She knew with her relatively humble background, she was a role model. Her parents hadn't been able to fast track her through the sport, with loads of stabled horses and grooms.

She started to read the article that accompanied her picture, how she was working hard to still achieve her high school qualifications through mostly independent study, and some tutor support. How choosing her cousin to be her chaperone for her interview and audition for a space on the team, had changed both of their lives, in one swoop. She continued to read, that her parents hadn't originally wanted her to go, fearing her hopes and dreams would be quashed, if she got rejected. Her cousin who loved riding and competing himself, and had been in a deep depression since his horrific accident had left him paraplegic. Having seen how disappointed she was, that no one would accompany her, he had decided it was time that he not only got out of the house, but out of the state, he went with her as her chaperone, so she audition. The brochure, continues onto trying out for the team and how she secured her spot.

She flipped the page, and saw a side column. Between the two were numerous pictures of her, from the age of 8 up to 15, riding horses, playing with them and her favourite holding buddy boy in her arms as a foal, moments after he was born. She loved that horse, he was her favourite to ride, but sadly wasn't hers. He was a mischievous and cheeky and had a wild streak. He'd been bred, as a thoroughbred born to race at the highest level. She'd been the one to train him, they'd been about to give up and sell him, as he'd thrown everyone who tried to ride him, and charged anyone who'd got him into pen on a lunge line. But with her he was a like little puppy dog, who literally followed her around, no rope or reins needed. He'd trot behind her as she wheeled the barrow of muck backwards and forwards. He got nick named her shadow, by everyone at the stables.

Taking a sip of drink, interested to read Uncle Willies words on her, as part of the article. 'Well I first met Brenda when she was about eight years old, her Grandpapa is an old friend of the family, and he'd brought two of his grandchildren out to meet me, both of them loved riding. He said they were rather good, so we put them out on some of our younger horses being trained. Both had incredible natural potential, especially young Brenda. She was young and wanted to get involved at the yard, and be around horses more, her parents couldn't afford one for her to have as her own. She was two young at the time to work here, but could help out. I thought like most kids, she'd get fed-up eventually of the hard work. But come rain or shine, she'd be here every Saturday morning. She wanted to learn everything she could, she worked hard. As she got older, did more and more. As she grew into her teens she rode many of our race horses, as we trained them, at weekends and throughout school breaks. She's a real natural with them. One of our mares was foaling earlier than expected and got quite agitated as she birthed. She had a really dislike of men, and our two female grooms were away at a race. The horse was getting more distressed and I was starting to panic as I could have lost both the mare and foal'.

'I called up Gregory (Brenda's paternal grandfather), and told him, what was happening and whether he thought Brenda could try and calm her down. Well not 20 minutes later there they were, she jumped out of the car. Ran past me with a quick "Hi Uncle Willie", as she ran past me to the stable, before we could blink she'd gone in. We ran after her, concerned for her safety. When we got there Southern Duchess, had her head over Brenda's shoulder while she rubbed her neck and talked soothing words to her. Never seen anything like it before or since, I'm 55, and have been working with horse since I was 14, there she was nine years old helping out. When the foal was born the mother was exhausted she picked it up and moved it to the dry hay and cleaned its face and airways rubbing and patting it, getting it to breathe, the fist thing that foal saw when it opened its eyes was her. The horses racing name is 'that old Walsh charm', after the way she charms horses'.

They have a deep bond, he was a hard horse to train, we couldn't do anything with him, and she ended up training him himself one summer, spent everyday doing it. By the end of the summer it was not only ready to be ridden but ready to be raced. She stared also teaching him the basics of dressage. The grooms at the yard were mostly fearful of him as he'd repeatedly thrown them all off on a regular basis, but he followed her around, they nicked named him shadow.

She'd arrive in the morning, his ears would prick up, he start sniffing the air, she'd call out buddy boy (her name for him) and he'd come a running right up to the fence for a pat. She got him trained, if it hadn't been for her he'd of been sold but he's the best horse I've had, he runs like wind. She comes back as often as she can to train him, her teaching him dressage still as reminding him how to listen to the rider. He's my greatest hope of fulfilling my dream of one of my horses winning the Kentucky Derby, I was hopping Brenda will be able to ride him to victory between her Olympic commitments, what do you say Brenda? Will you do it, he runs harder and faster for you? She sat gobsmacked, shocked, she hopped this was true and not some journalists joke or lie, she'd do what ever she could to make it happen if it was true, to ride her buddy boy in the countries greatest race.

After drying her tears she went back to reading about, her results and statistics in the youth Olympics and recent qualifying results. There were some comments from sports professionals commenting on her likelihood of competing at next years Olympics.

Hearing the attendant coming with food, she quickly flipped the magazine closed, and turned it face down, pulling her seat up right, ready to eat. She decided on the chicken breast and asked for vegetables rather than rice, weary of eating rice on a plane, last thing she needed this weekend was to get sick. She also took the decadent triple chocolate pudding and ice cream. She was so active with riding, running, the gym and looking after Bobby, she'd lost weight, and had to make sure she ate enough, she wanted to keep her curves and not be to thin. But size and weight had in some ways also helped her bag those, deals with several designers like Tommy and Calvin's, modelling mostly for teen mags, she started to branch out into more adult women's fashion magazines as well. She got to keep the clothes she wore, and sent other freebies to boot and got paid to.

Money was the other thing that concerned her, and talking to her dad worried her. She got paid grants and living expenses being on the Olympic team, graduating from the juniors to adult, had seen that triple, and if that wasn't enough she had various sponsor deals and just started to model as well. And then there was the money she had at first reluctantly took, to care for Bobby. He was family, she didn't need paying to care for him. His parents hadn't wanted him to go, let alone so far from home, as they said he'd be on his own with no one to care for him. He'd argued he wouldn't be on his own, Brenda would be with him, they argued she wasn't yet on the adult team, although she was training with them. He'd argued back, she needed an adult to attend with her as she was under 18, and he needed careers support, that they could look out for each other. When everyone had said it wasn't right or fair for a young girl to help him, with his personal care. Brenda had argued she didn't have a problem with it, they'd grown up together he was like her older other.

Brenda continued to eat her lunch, munching on some broccoli while flicking through the movie choices. She looked at the new and recently added films, as she cut up more chicken, there was nothing that took her fancy, so went to back through the menu to look at the classics, they had an old Marx brother's movie, but she'd seen it last week with Bobby and the team, they'd gone to a late night showing. Sighing, there had to be something, "Ahh, that's it" putting aside her finished chicken dinner, she opened her pudding, as the opening credits of Roman holiday played, as she watched the beautiful sites, she dreamed of going, and getting to explore with her own hunk on the back of a Vespa.

As the attendant came round, she disposed of her finished dinner, she asked for another drink. She considers her life, she'd once dreamed of being on stage, but in later stages of Grand-pops life, she'd been drawn more and more into, the horse world. Perhaps when she'd finished competing and retired from it, she could reconsider acting again.

The flight attendant announced the duty free trolly would shortly be going round. Brenda picked up her inflight magazine to see if there was anything she wanted. Deciding to try some new perfume and also seeing Grammys favourite she'd got them both, a tie pin for her dad and a pretty scarf for her mum, and plane pen for her brother. She'd be all set for gifts, her relationship with her mothers parents was still strained and she didn't expect to see much of them this trip, she'd hopped time and space would heel things, and they'd accept her choices, and support and care of Bobby.

The duty free trolly finally arrived. Smiling at the blonde haired woman, she held out the magazine as she points out what she wanted, the woman pulls out all of her items and totalled them up, putting them in a bag. Trying to juggle the bag, inflight magazine and purse she dropped the magazine, typical it landed face up. The attendant picked it up, looking between it and Brenda, is that you, she shyly nods. "Wow, would you sign one for me?"

"Sure, I couldn't have some spare copies for my family could I?" She asks taking the attendants copy and signing it. Being asked for her autograph and getting recognised, had only just started not to feel strange, Bobby thought it was hilarious, she'd teased him, wait till next year, and then you'll be doing the same, we'll see how funny you find it then. She smiled, happily pleased he was ok, and living his life to the fullest, currently back in Jersey, preparing for his own entry competition.

Smiling the attendant took the magazine back, "Thank you so much?, I'll go get some", she came back with a bag full of 25 copies.

"Oh, god thanks, that's great". Thinking she'd have loads for family and friends.

She got up, and took her small carry on case out of the over head bin, zipping it open, she put the bags of gifts and magazines inside. Then lifted it back up over her head, smiling to herself, good job she lifted weights, or she would have struggled.

Sitting back down, she picked up her own in flight magazine, and read the rest of her interview. She was pleased at how she had come across as, hard working and driven. Her love of riding, and moving onto eventing and adding two extra events to her repertoire. Looking after Bobby, and how supporting her, at the audition, and his coaching of her, had gotten him noticed, and gave him the opportunity to audition himself. And how her Grandfathers love of horses and riding, had made an impression on both of them. This was a nice sectioned off area on this, she knew Grammy would treasure.

Today she was flying in from Miami, her first solo-ish gig without her chaperone. And as part of a official gig with her junior Olympic squad team mates or some of them anyway. She had been asked to join some of her fellow medal winners to take part in a film advert to promote Islamorada as a spring break adventure holiday destination and holiday place for families. She'd had so much fun, hanging out with the team, and catching up with old friends. Many of whom were also working hard to get spots on the full adult squad for next year. Five days hanging out and filming. Brenda loved the bits she got to shoot, hanging out and racing jet skis with Brad from the diving squad, and snorkelling along the reefs. And kissing him on a sun set cruise, after eating a fish supper. Her and Brad's parts had grown, when they'd realised they were able to act and take direction. They'd also had photo shoots, at every location for billboard and magazine advertising. The film advert would be out around Christmas and shown on different networks across the country.

She was getting paid extremely well, to take part, and she also had it in part of her contract that she got to sign off on anything that contained her. Booby had insisted on this, this time as he wasn't there himself to over see it. Bobby was her chaperone and normally went with her, to ensure she was looked after, dressed appropriately if modelling and not taken advantage of. But he couldn't make this one, mainly as he wasn't that keen on going back home so soon, after his parents visit to them in Kentucky, and because he had to take part in his own sponsorship event. He was also proving to be an excellent manager. Between them, they looked out for each other, managing each other (therefore they got 10% from each other) rather than giving a cut to someone else. They'd taken some evening classes, in managing and contracts, going up to New York for a few days. In addition, as well as her caring for him, and him being her chaperone. They nicknamed themselves the Walsh dream team, or team Pappy, supporting each other was working out well, they had each other's backs and support, giving them both independence from their parents.

Brenda listened and obeyed the announcements to put her tray and return her seat up, ready for landing. She put her thumbed inflight magazine in her hand bag, tucking it under the seat in front of her. She grinned she couldn't wait to see her family, she pulled on her cardigan it was going to be positively cold compared to where she'd been.

Once the plane had landed and taxied to the gate. They'd been given the ok, to take off their seats belts, she was up in a flash picking up her handbag, opening the locker to grab her small case. She was first at the door, and out of the plane, quickly thanking the captain and flight crew.

Grabbing a trolly, she waited at the conveyor belt, luckily her cases came out first another sponsor's perk. And strolled out the doors, looking eagerly for her family. She walks through the crowd of people, seeing an opening and what she thinks is her brother. She suddenly hears her name being called.

Looking left, she sees her Grammy rushing towards her, stepping aside of the trolley, she opens her arms and hugs her warmly. "I've missed you so much", she holds her at arms length, "You look beautiful, the weather must have been lovely".

Brenda nods in reply to her, and sees her brother and father approaching, the latter having a heated discussion, with her mother whose looking none to happy at her Grammy.

"Grammy were you meant to wait at home to see me". She asks.

"Well I well, I missed you and couldn't wait". She looks sheepish.

Brenda shakes her head, gives her another hug, before approaching her parents.

~O&O~

A very long chapter for me, the rest won't be quite so long. But I wanted you to know about Brenda's life in a nut shell, and lot of background of how she got there.

This is an alternative way of our favourite duo meeting. I have started the next couple of chapters, but need to finish them, then edit them. If you would like to read more, then please leave a review, I don't get many, and it kinda make me want to give up, when I work so hard and get so few. A huge thank you to those that have taken the time to review my other stories so far, or send me a PM. Reviews make me want to keep writing hint, hint.

A big thank you to ember1313, who exited this chapter months ago. Well it's been dusted off, and edited again. If you'd like to read more then please leave a review.

Any other writers having massive formatting issues when trying to copy and paste from word onto the site? Turing your work into gibberish?