“Do we have to?”
“For the hundredth time … yes, we do!”
“But no one else is going!”
“No one else will be around for long.”
She felt his pouting through the ground. His clomping had a rhythm for each mood, and this one spelled: I’m thinking of an answer to refute you. She counted his foot-beats and waited. Never took more than a minute, with this kind.
“So Noah says.”
She couldn’t help but smile at his predictability. “So he does.”
His tetchy steps continued, unconvinced.
She said nothing but upped their pace a bit. It wouldn’t do to be late for this one. They cleared the lee of a dune and a gust of wind blew sand into their faces. She shook her head to clear it from her ears.
“And you believe him?”
At that she paused and turned her head toward him. “I’d rather believe him than perish.”
“But look!” He bellowed, and if she hadn’t known him well she would’ve missed the fear under the notes of clear frustration. “There’s not a drop around.”
She sighed. For all her projected certainty, he was voicing the doubts she did not let herself express. The blue skies mocked her loyalty, and the parched ground billowed dusty clouds as proof of the utter lunacy of leaving the herd to follow some two-legged prophet and his nightmare.
And yet, her own dreams had been filled with thunder. She’d wake startled, breathless with the premonition of a fruitless escape from tumbling mud that rose above the highest dune and all the way to the horizon and beyond.
She breathed and chewed her cud a moment before resuming her walking. She’d rather be a fool who lives. Especially with the calf that she could feel kicking in her womb.
“Noah said he’ll have fresh hay and all the food and water we can stomach,” she cajoled.
She grunted her assent along with her amusement. Her mate had always been partial to alfalfa, and the rare treat’s season had long passed.
“He promised some of that, yes. And barrel-loads of dates.”
His footfalls overtook hers, excited now. “Dates?! Why didn’t you say that sooner? Stop dawdling and pick up your feet! How much farther to that ark, you said?”