The sheep were a friendly lot. There were one hundred of them in a vast meadow within ancient dry stone walls. They munched soft sweet grass, and drank clear fresh water from a stream that bubbled over stones and round boulders, as easily as the breeze lifting a feather and carrying it away. The mountain rose elegantly in the distance, always there, invincible.
Nobody knew where the little goat came from. Someone said she’d jumped over the wall in the night. Someone else claimed she appeared suddenly amongst a cluster of lambs, running and bouncing with them on springy legs. An older member baaed that she was sure the little goat used to be a sheep, and that something, she knew not what, had altered her entirely. Whatever was bleated amongst the tribe, they all agreed. The little goat had an engaging smile, and a cute way of putting her head on one side to consider anything anyone said. But the truth was, she didn’t fit in. She couldn’t agree with the doctrines of the sheepfold, laid down from days of old. No matter how the sheep urged and coaxed her, her head would tilt to one side, and she would consider everything carefully, as if each thought was a lily of the field.
As the green of spring turned to the gold of summer, the lambs grew bigger, and left their playing days behind. The sheep were happy, content with the pasture they loved. The little goat found herself alone in a way she hadn’t noticed before. She wanted something, and she wasn’t sure what it was. She had questions, and the sheep weren’t able to answer them. Or else they refused to consider them. That was worse. This is the way it is, they said.
One evening, as the shadows of dusk slid over the mountain, the little goat jumped up onto the dry stone wall, and gazed upwards. Then she leapt down onto the coarse grass and trod her own path towards the great peak. It was dark by the time she was high above the meadow. The sheep would be sleeping, safe in their own knowledge of the what’s-what of things.
A tumble of stones skittered down from the path above her. She stopped. Her legs shook. A voice spoke in the darkness. ‘Little goat, what is it you wish to ask?’
The little goat had the urge to mutter, ‘Er, nothing. No, sorry, I was mistaken.’ But she couldn’t do that. She sat down, and began to weep.
‘I know your questions.’ The voice was gentle.
The little goat’s head tilted in the darkness. ‘I am always asking questions.’
‘Ask and it will be given unto you. You are not alone, little goat. There are others like you.’
The voice spoke again. ‘Seek and you will find.’
The little goat smiled.
Tomorrow. A new day. A new mountain path to climb.
The stars shimmered in the night sky, like a song dancing over the world.
Veronica Bright is a prize-winning short story writer, and is now working on a novel set in the sixties. A former primary school teacher, she enjoys organising regular events for children and families at church, and she runs the Plymouth Christian Writers’ group. She writes a monthly blog for beginner writers at www.veronicabright.co.uk