We walked for miles. I’m not sure who was leading who. We were just walking, and we would have walked on forever if Oatmeal didn’t tug the rope and nearly throw me into the dirt. A dark wooden fence stood in front of what looked like a forest. The open grass land and trees were all I could see. Oatmeal’s nose nudged the lock on the gate, and then he turned and stared at me. I stared back, and for a second, I forgot he was blind again.
The trees rustled, and my neck nearly snapped off my head, but Oatmeal was calm, and he let out a loud exhale that blew air on my shoulder. A girl with long black hair came running out of the trees as she shouted in a high pitched voice. “Oatmeal!”
She opened the gate so fast, I wondered if it was even locked to begin with, and her arms locked around the calf’s neck as she buried her face in it. I dropped the rope lead and laid a hand on his back and took a step backward. The girl let go but left her hand on Oatmeal’s nose and looked up at me with shining brown eyes, standing just a few inches shorter than me.
Oatmeal gave another loud exhale and nudged my arm with his nose. “Yeah, why don’t you come inside with us,” the girl suggested. She looked down at the suitcase still in my hand, balanced on its wheels behind me. “Surely you need some rest.”
Oatmeal and the girl both gave me the same expectant look, and I succumbed and followed the girl and Oatmeal through the trees and to the barn behind the one story peach brick house. “Do your parents know you’re inviting a stranger over?”
The girl held the barn door open for me, and I walked in and immediately took a seat on the cube of hay that sat on another bale with the calf in front of me and the girl next to him. The girl shrugged. “You look like you could be in my class.”
“How old are you?”
“Thirteen.” I nodded and stared at the dirt that scattered the floor of the barn. “How’d you know where to bring him?” She put a hand on Oatmeal’s shoulder.
I shrugged. “I didn’t.” I looked up at the calf. “But he did.”
The girl patted Oatmeal’s shoulder. “Where’d you find him?”
I put a hand out and touched the calf’s nose. “He found me.” I petted him as I looked to the girl. “I know his name. What’s yours?”
“Leila. Okay, Daisy, tell me about Oatmeal.”
“Only if you tell me about that suitcase.” Daisy pointed at the suitcase that laid down next to the bales of hay I sat on.
“I deserve his back story for bringing him back.”
“I deserve to know what’s in your suitcase if you’re staying in my barn.”
I looked to the girl whose eyes held their own adamance. “Fine.” I nodded. “But first, Oatmeal.” I leaned back against the wooden wall and crossed my arms as Oatmeal began chomping on the corner of my hay chair.