Pecos River Valley, Texas


Then she strode off to the south, the bright sun masking the light of the burning house and a providential breeze dissipating the smoke before it could be seen. You’ve quite a few hours of light yet, she told herself. Walk fast.

There were almost no landmarks, but she was confident in her ability to keep a mostly southerly heading just by using the sun. Sending up a brief prayer, she set as fast a pace as she could manage, but the sandy soil made walking difficult, and the need to avoid the prickly pear and saw‑leaved yucca slowed her tremendously. Shadows were beginning to lengthen to her left when she realized she hadn’t made nearly the progress she’d hoped for. I’ve only gone maybe six miles or so, she thought, starting to watch her backtrail for signs of pursuit. I need to find a place to hide for the night, before nightfall actually comes. Jenkins and the boy would be looking for her as soon as they returned, of that she was certain.

She finally settled for a shallow gully where she had but two directions to watch instead of four. There was a dead tree nearby for firewood. Once it gets too dark for them to continue searching, I can start a fire, she thought as she glanced about warily, ears straining to hear every little sound.


–from The Slow Trail Home