The sun glistened off the hatchet as the boy swing at the piece of wood. The hatchet glistened in the midday sun as it swung downward and split the log in two. He straitened his aching back and stared up at the sky. What a place to live! Virtually no people lived there, and with good reason. The summers were blistering hot and the winters freezingly cold. Storm rose up in a moment, dust storm came and went as they pleased. Nothing would grow. There was no such thing as soil here. There was rock. No trees, no grass, bare ground, flat. For miles around. The boy, Josht, picked up his armload of wood and headed into the low stone hut that sat, squatting against the earth. He stooped to enter and laid the wood in a corner on the ground. He bent over a cot, were two tiny sisters lay under an old horse blanket, sleeping. Then he turned to the other cot, were his father lay. His father looked up as Josht stooped over him and felt his fevered brow. He said in a raspy voice, "Josht, listen to me, son."
The boy nodded. "Yes, Father."
"I must tell you something. After I am dead,"
The boy grasped his fathers hand tightly. "No, father."
The man raised his hand for silence. "Yes, I am dying, and I know it. No son, you must take the girls and go to the forest. Find a better life than this for them. Your mother would have wished it." he fell silent.
The boy grasped his father's hand, the tears running down his face. "Father," he choked out.
"Go son. Go now. Do not wait, there is not much time."
Josht rose and wiped the tears from his face. He grabbed a sack from the table and stuffed some bread, meat and water in it. Then he carefully lifted the two sleeping girls and wrapped them in the blanket and hoisted them onto his back. He paused at the door. There lay his father. Dmaa raised his hand to salute his son. "Josht," he said, with tears in his voice. "You are a man now. Just remember that." Josht nodded and stepped out the door.