Elizabeth shot down the path towards her house. The Texas sun was sinking and her Mom would kill her if she wasn't home for dinner. She hurtled forward on her trusty steed, gaining speed as she flew down a hill. Faster she went and was nearly thrown off at the sharp bend. She rounded another corner and zipped towards the house, a cloud of dust in her wake. She jumped off while her mount was still moving and dragged it into the garage. She stood back and admired her... bike?
Lizzie had always loved horses. She wanted one so badly it wasn't funny. Every year she begged her parents for one. They always said no. They had the room, a stable, but not the money. She paused before entering the house, a small, cozy farmhouse. Then she sucked in her breath and walked in. Her 13th birthday was approaching and she had high hopes she would get a horse this time. She walked into the kitchen to see her Mom setting the table. She jumped in to help. She needed all the credit she could get.
At dinner that night she turned to her Dad. "Dad?" "Yes honey, what is it?" She paused for dramatic effect, "Could I have a horse for my birthday." Her Dad put down his fork and looked at her. "Sweetheart, you know a horse costs a lot of money." "Yes Daddy, I know." "You know we don't have this money, right." "Yes." Her Dad nodded, "Good."
After dinner that night she was helping her Mom wash up. Her Mother cocked an eyebrow and looked at her. "You alright honey?" She said with a distinct southern twang, "You haven't eaten a thing!" Lizzie smiled weakly, "our chicken was great Mom, but I've noticed my waist seems to be growing... in a bad way." Her Mom chuckled, "Don't you worry sweetie, you're short and stout, like me. Now I don't want ya' starvin' so eat up!"
After a couple days Lizzie had started feeling quite faint. When her parents asked what was wrong, she passed out on the floor.
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(Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
Elizabeth woke up to find herself in hospital. She had developed a cancer tumor in her stomach, and it was quite large.
For the next few weeks she was miserable. She was too sick to leave the hospital and the leukemia treatment was making her hair fall out. Her parents and friends came to visit, bit she still felt lonely. Her mother bought her a sketch pad and some paper. She spent most of her time drawing pictures of horses.
One day, a company called WISH came to visit. They handed her a sheet of paper and told her to write down the three things she wanted most. She wrote down HORSE, HORSE, HORSE in capitol letters.
When she was finally ready to come home, she had a surprise waiting for her. In the old stable around the back, there was a small, bay horse. It had shaggy mane and a white splotch on its belly. She named the small horse Smurf, and visited him daily, riding, washing and cleaning him.
One day she decided to take a trail ride, which was not unusual for a Sunday morning.
"OK, but stay near the lake!" Her mother called.
As she cantered along on Smurf, she spotted a bald eagle, soaring high above her. It was heading for the Rockies.
"It's not that far." She said to Smurf, and the horse shook his head. "We could follow it and find her nest! Let's go!"
She urged the horse into a canter and the meandered along the trail, following the eagle. Pretty soon they were in the mountains and in an area known for its notorious rock slides.
The eagle slid into view and hopped onto a narrow ledge.
"Look!" Elizabeth exclaimed, "That must be where its nest is!"
She leaped off Smurf and ran to the cliff face.
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