“No, Riley! Absolutely not!” Andi Carter Prescott was determined that she would not be learning how to shoot in the near future.
“Andi, stop being so stubborn! You’ve got to learn at some point!”
“I’ve tried. I can’t. Chad tried to teach me about a million times, and the lessons ended in yelling and tears. I don’t want to learn.”
“Andi, that was a long time ago. We are both much more mature. It won’t end like that. C’mon, what if you run into something dangerous while alone on the range? You’ve got to be able to help yourself.”
“Fine, Riley. Only a couple hours though! I still don’t like the idea, however.” Riley's eyes softened.
“Andi, it’ll be alright. I promise.” He held her gaze until she reluctantly nodded.
“Good. Then get yourself ready and get out to the barn. I’ll saddle Shasta and be waitin’. Hurry up!” Andi laughed at his impatience.
“Yes, sir. Please check Shasta’s front right hoof. She’s seemed to be favoring it.” She turned to go up the stairs when Riley’s voice stopped her dead in her tracks.
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll be happy to, ma’am. Anything else, ma’am?” She turned and stuck out her tongue.
“Well, while you’re at it you could get me a glass of lemonade and put some of the laundry out to dry.” She hid her amusement at the disgust on his face.
“I think I’ll go get the horses and guns ready.” He turned and practically ran out of the house.
Andi still wasn’t thrilled with the idea as she rode alongside Riley.
“Are you sure about this, Riley?” Riley reached for her hand.
“Yes, Andi. I love you, and I wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt you.” Andi, reassured, nodded. They rode in silence until they reached the makeshift range. Andi’s nervousness returned as she watched Riley dismount and take the three guns he’d brought from his saddlebags. He checked the chambers, then loaded one of the weapons, the pistol. Riley turned to the target about twenty-five yards away, and raised the gun.
“Okay, Andi. Notice how I’m standing feet shoulder-width apart, both hands gripping the butt of the pistol, and no fingers yet on the trigger. Now you look straight down the barrel, through the sights. Do not shoot unless you can see the target clearly.” Riley turned his attention back to the gun, and carried out the same instructions he’d just given Andi. Andi jerked when the loud bang richochayed around her. Riley lowered the slightly smoking pistol.
“Your turn, Andi. He offered the pistol to her.” Andi didn’t make any motion to get down. Riley cocked an eyebrow.
“You just gonna sit there and watch?” Andi heaved a sigh, and ever so slowly turned to dismount. She took the offered pistol gingerly, and walked to the spot Riley was indicating. She bit her lip and raised the gun. Riley stepped forward and corrected her grip. Andi looked down the barrel, straining to see the target.
“Andi, widen your stance. If you stand with your legs together, you have nothing to absorb the kick and, most likely, you’ll stumble and throw your shot off.” Andi obeyed, and found the position to also be more comfortable. She again looked through the sights. She focused on the target and pulled to trigger. Her ears rang with the blast. She didn’t see any evidence that she’d hit the target, and her shoulders slumped.
“That’s okay. Your learning, your gonna make mistakes. You looked pretty good. The problem was that you closed your eyes when you pulled the trigger.” Andi bit back a grin.
“I guess that could change things.” She went to try again. This time, she focused so much on keeping her eyes open that she bit her lip with the kick. Riley rushed to her side.
“Andi, let’s go get some ice for that lip. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have suggested it!”
“No, Riley. I will do this. I’m gonna learn to shoot if it kills me!” Riley groaned.
“I wish I could believe that was only a metaphor. Andi, you might…” His voice trailed away as he realized there was no changing her mind. Andi shot and missed several more times. Riley tried to protest, but a look from Andi shut him down. He shrugged helplessly and reloaded the pistol. Finally, Andi’s efforts paid off, and she hit the edge of the target!
“Riley! I did it! I hit the target!” Riley let out a joyous whoop.
“I knew you could do it, Andi! It just takes practice!” Andi shot over and over, usually hitting around the edges of the target. She became furious as she tried and tried and never got a good shot. The angrier she became, the more she missed.
“Calm down, Andi. Just focus. You can do it.”
“Riley, I have gone through rounds and rounds of bullets and I still ain’t hittin worth beans! It ain’t fair! I can’t do it!” Her voice was fierce. Riley bristled as he was only tryin’ to help.
“You don’t have to bite my head off.” He growled Andi spun on him.
“You can’t talk! You ain’t the one shootin’ a gun and missin’ every shot you take! You ain’t the one who’s gonna be made fun of all your life cause you can’t hit the broadside of the barn! You ain’t the one who’s gonna be in trouble if you ever do run into something dangerous.”
“Just focus. Try harder!” Riley wasn’t feeling especially forgiving after hearing her tirade. Andi almost dropped the gun, then caught herself and set it gently on the ground. She stalked to Shasta and quickly mounted.
“Riley, until you’re willing to speak sense, I think we’ve got nothing to say to each other!” Riley’s usually even-tempered voice was hot with anger.
“That’s fine with me! Come back when you’ve got a better attitude!” Andi spun Shasta and galloped toward the reek. Riley felt a knife stab his heart as he realized he and his precious Andi had just fought.
“Anid! Please come back! I’m sorry. We can work things out.” Andi didn’t hear him. Andi was fuming. How dare Riley act as if she weren't trying! She had tried so hard her hands were hurting! As far as she was concerned she and Riley wouldn’t be talking for a while. Let not the sun go down on your wrath. Andi groaned. Why did the verses pop into her head at the worst times? She tried not to think about it, but the thought wouldn’t leave. She hung her head as the reality of what had just happened hit her like a train. Oh, God, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Andi turned Shasta back at the same speed.
“Riley! I’m so sorry! I was being selfish and I wasn’t being very christian-like. We are married! We should be able to work out our differences without raising our voice.” Riley smiled softly.
“It’s alright, Andi. I wasn’t being very understanding. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course, Riley! There is nothing to forgive. How about we try this again tomorrow?”
“Sure thing.” Riley was quick to agree as he put the guns away and mounted his horse. The two rode back to the ranch hand in hand. Thrilled to have their anger behind them.
Ephesians 4:26-- Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.