Chapter 3

The herd set off at noon, when the sun was at its highest place in the sky. I staggered after Rain as we walked along the wizen, cracked riverbed, and I tried to imagine what it had looked like the season before I was born, when the Cimarron herd was inable to cross the rushing water. I licked the sandy ground, wishing for water. My throat was dry as it had ever been, and the last of my mother's mild had ceased. I couldn't help think about the fate that lay ahead of us. Spirit was caked in white sweat as he lead us back up onto the ashen slope. For the first time, I noticed how weak my father was, and I galloped past Rain, and the other horses, so I could trot at his side, staring up at him whenever he failed to take his next steps. He looked down on me, pride glimmering in his gaze. I glowed with satifaction, and I took a few paces ahead of him, daringly looking back, challenging him to keep up. He snorted and charged past me, and I gave a whinny of delight as we ran together over the plains. I had hope once again. The sound of hooves rolling behind me made me feel like I was leader already, taking my heard ahead and into yonder. I brayed and let the wind lift me, and I ran as if I had forever to run like a stream. The hot air stung my eyes and my nostrils, and new scents filled me as we continued. I reared up and did a little twirl, thinking that there was water just ahead, my happiness filling me with things that weren't there. I was about to leap for the water and bathe my aching burnt skin, but Spirit skid in front of me, and I squealed in fright and dug in my hooves. He lashed his tail and flared his nostrils, and the herd came to a halt. "Storm! You could of killed yourself!" His tone was thick with anger. I trembling, bewildered with what I'd done wrong. "But I saw the water!" I pushed past him stubbornly, then stopped, heart racing in my chest. Where had the water gone? I was looking down a barren, dusty slope, and the only thing stirring down there was the wind. I looked back up at Spirit, who had softened and was leaning to nibble my forelock. "It was a mirage. Tricks on your mind. It's so hot that you saw water, but it was just this rocky slope. If you had kept running, you would of hurt yourself." Heart still beating as if to escape, I stared up at him with wild eyes. "I-I'm so sorry..." What if I'd led the herd to their death? Rain trotted up and licked us both. "We must turn around. We've gone the wrong way. There is no water here." Spirit looked to the sky, and I once again saw the weakness of when we had first set out. He stared at the blue skies, and the glowing sun for a long time before turning and speaking again. "You are right. But we will rest here for the night." He turned to address the herd. "Stay together, and take the shade of the dead tree!" He called, nosing towards a leaf-less, brown and tilting tree. I stayed where I was, breathing hoarsly, then glanced at the slope before hurrying after him.

The End

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