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Allison Merritt

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2011 Alice R. Cummings

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“There it is.”

A voice, rusty from lack of use broke the long silence. Only his companion, a tired, swayback gray gelding and a frightened jackrabbit hiding in the weeds heard his statement.

From his perch on the gelding’s back, the cowboy gazed down at the patch of dirt he had once called home. Uneasiness filled him as he studied the abandoned land. Coming home was the thing he had both dreaded and desired for years.

The pair walked on, oblivious to everything except the sight of the old homestead, partly obscured by a heavy mist. The rider coughed—a harsh sound that shattered the stillness around them. The horse merely flicked an ear. The man had only been given ‘til the end of the year to live, but it seemed that death hovered a little closer every day.

The cowboy stopped his horse on top of a ridge overlooking the valley. His eyes saw the ramshackle buildings, the quiet, overgrown fields. In his mind, there was music and laughter, friends and plenty of food, the rewards of a good harvest.

He’d run away when he was seventeen, looking for something more. He’d been a foolish boy, hell bent on proving that he was a man. He remembered that night like it was yesterday. The angry words that passed between him and his father, the hasty good-bye he’d given his mother, the tear-streaked face of his first love.

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