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26th June
posted by amber

Hard Winter

The winter was hard. Deep snow covered the grasses.  Her legs and those of her aunts, sisters, cousins and daughter were scraped and bloodied from digging for food. Their ribs showed and they became weak with starvation.

They had to move. She knew the direction, they all did. Every day they trended slowly in that direction, stepping easily on the hard drifts over the three line barriers which were now just one line. But something was missing. They were supposed to move more quickly and they were supposed to follow the large dark ones.

She didn’t know where the large dark ones were. They found animals neither large enough nor dark enough and they stayed near them for several days. There was food – dry grasses in a trampled area, the warmth and feet of the black and white animals turning it to mud, even in the bitter cold. But, as always when they stayed near such animals, two legs came and made loud sounds and turned canines loose to harry them, and so they moved on.

Her heart rose when at last they found the large dark ones, hemmed in by a barrier almost too tall to jump over. But these large ones did not move in the correct direction and they aggressively defended the grass they uncovered.

She felt compelled to stay with the large dark ones and so, when the two legs came with something very large and fast-moving and chased the large dark ones into it, she and her aunts, sisters, cousins and daughter followed it as it sped away. They could not hope to catch it, yet the scent of the large dark ones lingered in the air. At last they came to a canyon full of two legs and fast things and loud noises. Frightened, they dashed into an area of trees and open meadows, beside a river.

The grass was not buried so deeply there and they stayed, reassured at first by the scent of the large dark ones coming from the other side of the river. After that faded, they still remained, growing less frantic with hunger and disturbed only occasionally by canines who came into the meadow with two legs wearing sticks on their feet. Some of the two legs brought delicious grass seeds for them to eat.

Gradually her longing to travel south faded and was forgotten.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

My gratitude to Wilma Rempel Enns for suggesting this story idea about pronghorn antelope historically travelling south with the large herds of buffalo.

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