Waiting

             It was three days before they found out.  Days that were long expanses of empty hours, flowing like glaciers in front of them. They soaped the reins, and adjusted the bits; they curried the horses, and drew water;  they oiled the wheels, then moved the oxen to another patch of grass, then another, then another.  The cleaned their guns, and stood, watching the horizon, side by side, waiting for the sun to finally lower itself, then watched as it at last slid behind the dusky sea of grass.  And through the darkness, watching the heavens turn above their heads, peeking out from under the wagon canopies to observe the brightness of the night and look for the horizon, searching for that first pale blue forerunner of dawn; then the rose orange, then the bright tip of the blazing arc rising like a burning mountain.

            And then they soaped the reins, and adjusted the bits; they curried the horses, and drew water;  they oiled the wheels, then moved the oxen to another patch of grass, then another, then another.  They barely ate, barely slept.  Still and all, when the days of fear had finally passed, when they found out, they wished they did not know.  They wished they were still waiting.

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