Hobie wins a day of freedom from the pen, only to lose a cherished possession.
A day away from the pen crowded with all his friends, Sam, Molly, Ben and the rest. Hobie had found a clever way under the rock wall, and had managed to sneak away without being noticed by the shepherd. He stopped along the sun-washed bank of a cool mountain stream and lapped some of its sweet water. "...sure beats the libations available back inside the Wall." he thought. He hadn't had anything to eat since the breakfast of sheep feed pellets and mineral supplement. He began sniffing the grasses, clover, phorbs, and creasy greens on the bank, and… Mmm… began munching casually, as if he had a lifetime to spend here. As the Sun approached its zenith, Hobie noticed the warmth of the day, and unbuttoned his coat. His Mom and Dad had given it to him for his birthday, and it was one-of-a-kind. He bent down at the edge of the creek to take another drink, and the coat slipped off on one side and dragged in the cold water. When he pulled it back over his shoulder, it chilled him. The Sun was still warm, so Hobie decided, in the interest of comfort, to hang the coat on the low branch of a fir tree to dry. As his eye turned from the coat, it was caught by a colorful butterfly drifting on the day’s gentle breeze. The insect was slowly moving its wings, and floating from one small flower to another, looking each time for yet sweeter fare, and so far as Hobie could tell, finding it.
Hobie was fascinated by winged flight, and had thought, since lambhood that he’d love to be able to experience it. He followed the butterfly across the green clearing, up the creek, in the sunshine, jumping, trying to extend his legs, wing-like, and take flight as the butterfly.
The afternoon rolled by and the tree-shadows walked on, slowly, it seemed to Hobie, almost like the caterpillar that the butterfly had been. He slowed as he thought how the two were the same, how one ceased, and gave existence to the other. Slowed for a moment, as he pondered the progression from worm to beautiful, graceful soaring thing, he realized that the butterfly was nowhere to be seen. He looked behind, and felt in an instant the slight, but noticeable chill that had sunk into the afternoon air. “My coat!” he thought, as he turned back toward the creek. The Sun seemed to be moving faster now, and its light was no longer warming his exposed body. Hobie began to hurry.
No longer trying to flap his wings like the colored insect, Hobie began running to recover his parents’ precious gift. Breaths rasping more insistently in and out of his lungs, his ribs began to ache.
As Hobie broke into the green, sloping ground near the creek, his heart sank, began to break. His coat was gone.