At the bottom of a lake long dried up, my hazy gaze rested hopefully on a cloud building in the distance. Dust rose up around my plodding feet, settling on my cracked tongue. The size of this lakebed desert must have grown since the last estimation. I didn’t have enough water to get back; I could only move forward and hope I reached the edge before I ran out.
I tried not the think about how dehydration could have me just walking in circles.
A ridge of reddish rock stretched across my path, a veritable fortress wall. In the distance, it culminated at a former island, towering upward. I had tried to scale the wall only to slide back down on slopes of shale. When I had rolled to a stop at the base, dust in my hair, I picked myself up and followed the wall instead, looking for a break. Better to save my energy.
The cloud inched closer, pure white edges blurring with the horizon.
A break in the wall appeared all at once to my left. In the moment I registered freedom to continue forward, I stumbled on a hard object in the sand, going down to my knees. Tiny rocks skittered away from my hand as I scraped the object free. At first, I frowned, not understanding what I found.
A railroad tie. Attached to a railroad rail. The line passed through the break leading straight to… the oncoming cloud.
I got to my feet as the rippling heat revealed a dark train running toward me from the distance. The cloud of steam puffed upward, better than any raincloud I could imagine.
As the train neared, I stuck out my thumb to hitch a ride. The brakes squealed as the train started to slow.
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Featuring an exclusive Hopeful Wanderer short-story!
For over 100 years, Texas High Plains Writers has been a part of great storytelling in Texas and beyond.
This year, our anthology offers a collection of short-stories, memoirs, inspirational essays, and poetry filled with hope.
With 22 talented authors, from best-sellers to the first time in print, there is something for everyone.
Great heroes of legends past sit side by side in these pages with the unsung citizens showing kindness to strangers. Humor, adventure, and nostalgia combine to remind us all that hope can be found anywhere.
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