Ella pulled the hood of the coat over her thick, dark hair. "Don't go," her mother pleaded. "It's too cold--you'll---you'llfreeze!" Ella tugged her boots over linen wrapped feet. "So you're telling me to justsithere?" Ella hissed. "When Rene might---when she's in this condition? You think---"
Rene sat up in her bed. "Where you going?" Her mother moved to her immediately. "Lie back down," she ordered. "You need rest. Ella's not going anywhere." She turned hopefully to her older daughter. "Right?"
Ella walked sadly over to Rene. "How're you feeling?" Rene coughed. Ella cough almost hear her breath rattling in her afflicted lungs. "Ella? Where you going?" Ella crouched next to Rene's slight form. "I'm going to find you a doctor. You'll get better, Ren. I promise." A lie.
She's only seven,Ella thought frantically.She's too young. Too young to---
"Bye, Ren." She kissed her sister on her forehead. It was feverishly hot. "When are you coming back?" Rene's round green eyes were clear.
"Soon." Another lie. The closest doctor was nearly 20 miles away. "Ella," her mom protested. "Please." Ella could tell that she was close to tears. "Bye, Mother." She hugged her quickly and walked away without another word. She slipped out the door and shut it quickly. They couldn't waste the warmth of the house.
It was frigid outside. The snow was packed hard into the ground. It glittered before her eyes, nearly blinding her. She trudged to the stables. Her horse, Blackie, was there, along with a backpack full of now frozen food tied to his rump. "Hey," she murmured, stroking his silky side. He neighed a response. "It's cold, huh?" she sighed, throwing a heavy horse blanket over him. They couldn't afford a saddle. She threw a leg over his back. "Let's go," she said softly, clicking her tongue. Blackie lept foward.
His hoofs hit the snow, sending clumps flying up. A cardinal chittered overhead. Ella guided her horse carefully toward the forest. She must go west, she knew. She would go west until she found the doctor.
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