Where the Sheep Went (Part 2)

    Early the next morning, the chief rooster’s mighty crow trumpeted from the big white fencepost near the front gate. The animals began to stir. One by one the sheep crept out from the barn and into the chilly air and gentle sunlight. Beneath a clear blue sky, a hundred thousand lingering dewdrops had turned the sheep paddock into a vast, sparkling emerald sea. The cows lowed in the next paddock, magpies whistled in the trees, chirping sparrows flitted here and there on the ground, and from the distance came the honk of a lone goose flapping high above the northern hill. It was a fine morning to be a sheep.

    The last ones out of the barn were Candace and two other lambs, Delilah and Shem. Candace paused at the barn door and watched the flock slowly disperse to wherever each sheep thought the grass greenest. Delilah and Shem watched her. “Are you really going to leave?” asked Delilah.

 “I have to,” said Candace.

 “I don’t understand,” said Delilah. “If you don’t know what is outside the farm, then why do you need to see it?”

 A big green bug hovered low overhead. Candace watched as it rose and drifted away toward the cow paddock. She closed her eyes. “Do you remember the story the old ram told us, about how the great bull died?”

 “Yes,” said Shem. “The was a scary story.”

 “Well,” said Candace. “I think maybe the great bull felt like I feel now. And if I don’t do something about it, then I might go crazy like he did.”

 Delilah and Shem looked at each other, then turned back to Candace. “I don’t want you to die like the bull,” said Shem, “but if you stay here in the sheep paddock, you’ll be safe, right? Nothing will happen.”

 “That’s what scares me,” said Candace. She opened her eyes and turned to look at her friends. “I have to leave. You can come too if you want. But I’m leaving either way.”

 “Where will you go?” said Delilah.

 “I don’t know,” said Candace. “But I’ll never get there if I stay here.” She walked over to the water trough and looked out across the paddock. “Goodbye everyone!” she bleated.

 A few nearby sheep lifted their heads to look at her, then went back to eating grass. She turned to Delilah and Shem. “Well, this is it then. Goodbye.” She turned and headed for the top of the paddock.

    Halfway there, Candace stopped and turned at the sound of hooves—Delilah and Shem were running after her.

 “Wait!” called Delilah. She and Shem caught up with Candace. “We’re coming with you.”

 “You are?” said Candace.

 “Yes,” said Delilah. “I don’t want to stay here if it’s going to make me crazy too.”

 Candace looked at them. “And you, Shem?”

 Shem squinted and clicked his teeth as he thought. “Well,” he said, “you are my friend, and I’d be awfully sad to not see you again.”

 Candace smiled. “Then we’ll go together.”

© 2021 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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