Leila’s back hurt, her insides were rolling, the sun blinded her. The irony was her mother had insisted she learn to ride the way a woman would be expected to. But nothing she knew was useful. She was about to retch again.
“Tom, Tom, wait up,” she called. “I can’t do this.” She leaned over the side of her horse and vomited what was left of her lunch. She ran her arm over her mouth, wiping away the residue. “Oh my God, what’s wrong with me?” She jumped down and plopped onto the dried grass and dirt. A puff of soft soil rose around her getting into her eyes and mouth. She closed her eyes and rested her face in her hands.
“Girl, get yourself together. Ain’t gonna help to feel sorry for yerself.”
Leila lifted her face to peer at Tom, the tears running through the dirt on her cheeks. “Damn Tom, what am I to do? I feel so awful.”
“Do you think this stomach problem will get better then?”
“Nah, ye got a problem that ain’t goin’ away right quick.”
“I’m exhausted. I’ll get some sleep then I’ll feel better. I know it’s important to you to catch those killers.”
She slept through supper, slept through sundown, slept until the first light, when the sounds of chirping and fluttering wings close by sent a breeze across her face. The first thing she did when she stood was to dry wretch.
“Come here child, I have something for ye.”
Tom gave her a swig from his canteen. She swallowed then spit. “Are you trying to kill me? That was awful.”
“That there is my best whiskey. I figured it would counter-act your problem and make yer to feel better.”
“I didn’t like the taste, but we’ll see if it settles my belly.”
The ground rumbled. Hard. A sound Leila had never before heard. She sucked in air and said, “What’s all that Tom?”
“Sounds like the pack of bison I been hearing is coming closer. We best get out of harm’s way.”
Tom picked up their gear. Leila picked up what she could. They got on their horses and rode up toward the mountains. “Will we be out of the way?”
“They hardly never cross the mountains, they follow the river, but stay on the plains till they cross the river, so we’ll be safe.”
They rode a distance then Tom pulled up on his horse and stopped. “Why are we stopping?”
“I have to pack this gear, can’t hold it all day. There were no time back there.”
“Darn if that whiskey didn’t make me stop retching. Guess I’m going to be okay. It was just a passing chill.
Want to guess if Leila suffered from a passing chill? This is a snippet idea for my coming book, Haze of Innocence.