“Where are those idiot goats this time?”
My mom shouts loud enough for the whole town to hear. I walk out back and sure enough, the pen is empty. No one left the door open, and they didn’t chew a hole through the wire – that’s pretty much impossible now that dad installed two extra layers around the outside.
“Did they jump out?” asks my little sister Suri. “Hali, I think they jumped! Like this!” She starts jumping as high as she can, which isn’t very.
But I clap for her and say, “Yes, I think you’re right!”
Mom brushes her forehead with the bandana she keeps stuffed in her right pocket. It’s not really hot out, not yet anyway, but she always sweats a lot when she’s angry. “Two baby goats jumped six feet in the air? Ok, girls. Whatever you say.”
“We’ll find them, Mommy,” Suri says. “Right, Hali?”
I feel my plans for the day spiraling away like water down a drain. Searching for the goats was not on the agenda. I was going to go over to Kyra’s house and work on our dance moves for the talent show, then go to the store to spend the five dollars I earned yesterday helping dad install the extra wire. I had narrowed the choices down to either three bags of gummi fish, or one of those necklaces on display right next to the register. The ones with tiny dolphins and pearls. Probably the necklace, because if I buy candy, I have to share with Suri.
“Let’s go, Hali! Let’s find them right now!” She bounces up and down, somehow jumping higher now than she did when she was trying to show me how high she could jump.
“Ok.” I trail behind her as she half-skips, half-runs down our dirt driveway and out onto the road.
“We’ll follow their tracks! Just like Apache scouts,” she says. They must be on the second grade unit on Native Americans. I stare at the ground, but all I see are the ruts from dad’s truck. The ground is too hard and dry for goat footprints to stick.
But Suri turns right like she knows where she’s going, and I follow.
I wish we never got those goats. It was all dad’s idea, that we’d have a real farm out here in the middle of nowhere. Now mom and I have to take care of all the animals while he works extra hours at the restaurant. At first, I thought it was cool that we had goats and chickens and a cow, but that lasted all of two days. Until I had to muck out my first stall full of poop. Ick!
Suri’s too young and small to do much other than fill the feed troughs or get eggs from the hen house. So to her, it’s still a big exciting adventure.
“Look! It’s a goat track!” Suri bends down and points to a dent in the dirt on the side of the road. It doesn’t look like much of anything to me.
“Sure, so where are they?”
“This way!” Suri leads us into the brush. It’s the shortcut we take when we walk to school — down a steep embankment through a grove of reaching mesquite trees. We’ve made a path for ourselves that dad helps us clear twice a year. It’s almost time to get out here with the clippers again – I have to duck to get through. Suri is small enough to walk right on through.
Then I hear something. Maa-aa-aa, maa-aa-aa.
“Shhh!” We tiptoe forward and around the bend, and there they are. Two baby goats, standing in the sand, looking lost and hungry.
“Can I tell you a secret?” Suri says.
“I let them out,” she whispers. “Because I wanted to go on an adventure with you. Wasn’t it a great adventure?”
I think about the talent show, and the dolphin necklace waiting for me at the store, and how it’s going to take at least another hour to catch these goats with rope and drag them back home…
“Yes, it was a great adventure, Suri. We’re real goat scouts, you and me.”