by Max Reif
"They're coming!" Morgan thought
when he woke up that morning.. He
hurried to get dressed. After a bowl of cereal he ate so fast his
shirt was half
soaked, he ran to the side of the house and got on his bike.
Cycling quickly past the few streets
of their small desert town, Morgan was
soon on State Highway 31, heading toward the hills. After three miles
desert, he took the side road and began climbing. The grade was gentle
As it steepened, Morgan pushed hard to pedal his feetup, up,
to the very
top of Old Baldy. He turned right on the little sandy path, walked
and soon stood at the highest point of the row of hills that stretched
directions as far as he could see.
Yes! His "huncher" had been right!
The Graybeards were gathering in the distance:
huge, dark masses moved slowly toward Slywater. Other people
knew the Graybeards
as the clouds that brought needed rain to the desert each
spring. But Morgan knew them as dear friendsin fact, his best
Morgan sat still for a long time, watching
the Graybeards approach. At last they
"Hmmm, Hmmmm," he heard them say to
him. "You've come, little brother."
said Morgan. "And so have you. I'm so happy to see you again."
hmmm," the Graybeards murmured, but Morgan knew they
felt and appreciated
Morgan felt a very large drop land on his
shoulder. Then he felt another. Soon
the rain was falling hard, making its lines in the sky as far as he
making its sweet music in his ears. Drenched, Morgan re-mounted his
bike and rode singing and shouting all the way home.
"Morgan!" said Mother, as he knew she
would. Soon she had him in hot shower, then all dried off and in bed
with his pajamas on.
Morgan didn't care. From his bed he
could see his window. Looking out, and listening more to the Graybeards'
concert, he fell into a long nap.
woke up in the morning feeling uneasy, remembering a dream. He was
up on Old Baldy. The Graybeards were all around him. They seemed sad.
Morgan wondered why.
Waking, he wondered what the dream
could mean. But he didn't think about it for long. He had plenty to
The desert always filled with brilliant
color in the Graybeards' wake. The land, impregnated by rain, gave
birth to a multitude of flowers that seemed to dance in the breeze.
They kept their festive garb on for weeks. Then, slowly, the flowers
would wilt under the hot sun that would then rule for many months.
Some desert flowers might already be
blooming today. Morgan's plan was to ride his bike deep into the desert
and look for signs that the Graybeards had already awakened Spring's
But as Morgan ate his breakfast, he
heard something. Or rather, he didn't hear something. There
was no rain falling.
Morgan went to the window and looked
out. The sun had cleared the tops of the faraway mountains, and it
looked like today was going to be a hot one. The Graybeards were nowhere
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