Follow Me! – Chapter 1, HORSE RANCH DAYDREAM

Hazel headed up the ranch road, mostly walking, but occasionally skipping forward and scuffing the heel of her boot along the pavement. Rays of morning sunlight darted through the oak trees’ swaying branches, landing in bright bursts on her upturned face. Her squinting eyes closed now and again against the sun’s dazzling brightness. Even then, in a blind cocoon of light, she moved forward, trusting her feet to find their own way up the road until she could see again.

She carried a halter and lead rope over one shoulder and crooked her elbow to keep it from sliding off to the side. Her hand wrapped loosely around the noseband, hugging it to her heart and also by chance, rubbing dirt and the faint smell of horse onto her shirt. The halter bounced and jingled against her back and jeans with each swinging skip. She pretended with each jingle that she was driving a carriage horse in harness.

A wave of high-pitched chirps and twitters rose and broke above her head. Hazel looked up in time to see a colorful cluster of red-winged blackbirds fly from the branches of one tree to the branches of another.

Life here at the horse ranch was as different as it could be. At home in the city she would hear cars passing by on the street; people yelling; a dog’s bark. At home she’d never heard the chattering of so many birds filling out a background of breezy sunshine.

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