Part Twenty-Eight - Picturesque
The minutes dragged on as they ran the final miles to where Chaphar and Shehleg lived. They took a slight detour to bypass their herd and go straight to Tom’s first memory of their world. The sun was setting as they topped the hill and revealed the lake.
The lake was a beautiful orange and purple, as it was a perfect mirror of the sky above. Perfect except for the wind caused ripples floating across its surface. The lakeshore was dark. The trees on the north, or left, side and the hill on the west side, on which they stood, were casting their shadows, blocking out the last rays of light.
“Such a peaceful spot,” Tom said slowly.
“Yes,” Shehleg answered. “I love to stand here at this time of day.”
“I thought you stood down by that rock,” Chaphar said pointing at a large boulder on the right.
“Yeah, but you know what I mean,” Shehleg said giggling slightly.
Tom dismounted Chaphar. “It brings back memories of my first visit here. The time you nearly scared me to death,” Tom said patting Chaphar’s side.
“I know,” Chaphar said turning his head to the side so he could see Tom next to him. “Sorry.”
“Hey, I don’t much care anymore,” Tom answered smiling. “If you hadn’t done that, who knows if I would have ever known you very well?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Chaphar said nodding.
The group started to descend the hill and circle the lake. “Chaphar, what a curious name,” Tom said watching the rippling water. Chaphar gave an inquisitive look to Tom, who answered, “Your name sounds similar to a precious stone known as a Sapphire. You’re certainly that for me, a precious friend.”
“Whoa,” Chaphar said looking away slightly. “No one has ever said that before, but the similarity is strange.” He then added gazing into Tom’s eyes, “Thank you!”
Tom smiled and put his left arm around Chaphar’s neck. A light whinny from Shehleg caught Tom’s attention. “No, I didn’t forget you Shehleg,” he said rubbing her shoulder with his right hand. “How could I forget the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen and probably ever will see?”
“You’re just saying that,” she said looking away.
“No, not at all,” Tom said shaking his head. “You are pure white and it suites your personality perfectly.”
Shehleg turned back to look at him. “You’re sweet.”
“I’m sure those Velociraptors would agree,” Tom said smiling. The group laughed together.
“Tom, or I guess, Timothy,” Chaphar said slowing to a stop. The others followed suit. “You have been a welcome addition to my life. I have learned much from you. What a kind heart can do for one that had been hardened. Why we horses were created to be ridden. And what a human and horse can achieve when they work together. I will never forget you for the rest of my days.”
“Yes, you have taught me a lot too,” Shehleg added. “You’ve taught me why humans were put above us, at least in part. You are the ones who can forgive most readily. I was hard on you, yet you never complained or retaliated. You are the ones who have what it takes to keep going. Without you, we all would no doubt be dead. Zawkane would have died and then we’d have been hunted down. Timothy, you are a blessing.”
Tom felt a slight blush coming on. “Thank you,” he said looking at the grass. “Thanks a million…hooves.”
Chaphar and Shehleg circled from Tom’s sides to his front. They then put their heads over Tom’s shoulders in a double horse-hug. Tom wrapped his arms around their necks. He sure was going to miss them. His two best friends in the world…or…worlds.
As they broke the hug, six horses were heard trotting over the hill. They all looked and Chaphar said, “Yeah, it’s the time we all come down to get our turf-time drink. They usually follow me down, and the others are probably waiting for me.”
“Then what are they doing?” Tom asked.
“Oh them,” Shehleg said. “They don’t care if they follow him down here or not. They follow his orders all the time, but they got minds of their own.”
“Yeah, so be back shortly,” Chaphar said trotting around the lake.
“Hey Tom, stay right there,” Shehleg said sauntering after Chaphar. “I want to see what you look like from where I always stand and gaze at the lake.”
“Okay, I won’t move,” Tom yelled at her. Three of the new horses splashed their way into the lake, disturbing its peaceful surface. Chaphar had reached the hill’s peak and was looking back at Tom. It was a priceless picturesque moment and Tom just had to save it.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the camera. He turned it on, pointed it at the hill and pushed the ‘snap-the-shot’ button. He was too late; Chaphar had disappeared behind the hill. Tom jolted his arms down, almost dropping the camera. He missed a stunning shot by a few seconds.
He lifted the camera to his face to see if there were any redeeming qualities in it. He entered the gallery and his jaw nearly fell off. He had taken the very picture that he had bought many years ago!
Shehleg was nearly off the left side and she was rearing up onto her back legs in front of the boulder. The three horses still on the hill had their heads down chomping grass. The leftmost horse in the lake was lying in the waves just off the shoreline. The center horse was just slightly farther in and was deliberately disturbing the water. The remaining horse was filling its belly with nice cool water.
This was impossible. How could he have taken the picture that brought him here? It had been taken years ago because he bought it when he was ten. He was now eighteen. Something didn’t add up. Pictures can’t be taken after they existed.