By Patty Wilber
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CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber
CHAPTER ELEVEN – NO WATER
They were climbing up an east facing slope. The sun had burned away any tiny droplets of dew that had condensed overnight. The rays, bouncing back and forth among the red cliffs and boulders created a still heat that was oven-like. The dust kicked up by the horses hung in the air and climbed thickly into Callie’s nose. The plants gave off dry aromatic scents, as if offering their last precious oils in return for the sun’s mercy.
Callie was thankful she had grabbed a baseball cap off the hat rack before they’d left. She had taken the liner out of her helmet and put in the cap. The wide brim, pulled low onto her forehead, kept the sharpest rays out of her eyes, and shaded her nose. She touched the jug that hung on the saddle and wondered how long it would be until the water it contained boiled over like the radiator of an overheated car.
Ahead of her, Callie saw Jeff half hidden in the hot dust rising from the ground. He turned in his saddle. “The creek should be just around the comer,” he said. “We ought to stop there and let the horses rest and drink.”
Jake’s tongue lolled at the comer of his mouth and when he heard the word drink, he wagged his tail and ran it ran once around his silvery muzzle. He was a young dog and the heat didn’t seem to bother him much.
“I need a drink, too,” said Callie. Her sweat was evaporating as soon as it hit the air and the skin on her face felt like thin paper stretched across her cheekbones. “And look at Cloud.” She pointed to the sweat darkened patches on his hide. “It is like a desert out here.”
“It IS a desert out here,” Jeff pointed out. “High desert, but still.”