An Excerpt from The Gift

All that exploring made me hungry, so I gathered the tender grass into my mouth. The blades were sweet, and the sun was warm on my back. Maybe my friends would come later in the same trailer that had brought me. The pasture was big enough for all of us, and we would romp and play new games.

Then a high-pitched noise cut across the peaceful pasture. A tall, skinny girl with a black mane was standing on the fence. She was hollering and making such a ruckus I couldn’t enjoy that sweet, tender grass. So I walked down the hill to a quiet spot. But the girl kept yelling in that awful high voice. She made so much noise that I moved even further away. Only after she left could I munch in peace.

After my breakfast, I explored a little more. Maybe some of my friends had arrived but the girl’s shrieks had kept them away. I walked up one hill and down another. I trotted through the trees and galloped all the way around the pond. I looked everywhere, but I was the only horse in the pasture. Being alone made me sad. I wanted a herd to play with. I wanted to kick up my hooves and nip my young friends.

There was another reason I didn’t like being alone. Having other horses around would keep me safe. Being all by myself was hard and scary because I couldn’t watch out for all the dangers. Dogs or coyotes might wander into the pasture and chase me. Snakes might hide in the grass or under rocks. And mountain lions like to eat horses! Since I was alone, I had to be alert all the time. I couldn’t lie down to sleep because no one would stand guard over me. I’d have to sleep standing up!

Later the girl with the black mane returned. As she stepped into the pasture, the wind carried a sweetness to my nose. Was she the sweetness? I flared my nostrils to catch more of the wind. The closer I got to the girl, the stronger the sweetness grew. I walked as close as I dared and sniffed all around her. Finally, I sniffed her.

The sweetness drifted up out of a flappy thing that hung on her body. I sniffed the flappy thing until I found hard little treats hiding in there. They were white and smelled much better than the grass I’d had for breakfast! She put a treat in her hand and offered it to me. I sniffed it, then I ate it out of her hand. Her hand was warm and soft.  I crunched each treat slowly to enjoy the way they melted in my mouth. They were delicious! The girl smiled. It was nice of her to share such wonderful sweetness.

When her pocket was empty, I walked over to a nice grazing spot at the edge of the trees. The girl stopped smiling. She stomped away like she was really angry. I wondered why she was so upset. She had been happy just a moment before. The day was beautiful, the sun was warm, and the breeze danced in a playful way. How could anyone be upset?

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