The sweat dripped down William Evans' back uncomfortably. Outside, the only thing that could be heard were the sleepy moo's from their cattle and the occasional gust of wind.
Then, a new sound adorned the breeze. Slowly, horse's hooves clip-clopped by the house. So softly, that at first, Will thought he was imagining it.
He reached over and struck a match, holding it out to light up the small room he and his brother shared. He looked over; Mark was wheezing again.
Then, he heard them again, faint shouts and horse's hooves. Will jumped out of bed and walked to his parent's room, looking in the open door.
His father Dan sat on the end of the bed, cleaning his rifle. His mother Alice was sitting up, watching Dan and listening.
Then, more shouts. His father hopped off the bed, using the rifle as a cane. He threw open the curtains to see their barn going up in flames.
"NO!" His father yelled. Everyone ran outside to see a gang of men setting fire to their barn.
His father raised his gun, but a man came up behind him and shoved him off the porch.
Quickly, Dan grabbed his wooden leg from where it was laying on the ground and stuffed it onto his stump of a limb.
He stood, and faced a man on horseback before him. Will seethed. Hollander, The meanest son of a bitch around.
"You have a week Evans, then it'll be the house that burns!" Hollander yelled, turning his horse and smirking.
Will could see that he had a woman on the back of his saddle, for what purpose, he didn't know.
"You know Evans, I got a woman here, bet your Alice could use her" Hollander shoved the girl off the horse onto the hard ground below.
"So long Evans. Remember, One week!"
Dan cursed and ran towards the flaming barn, Will on his heels. If either of them had looked back, they would have seen Hollander laughing all the way back to town, but no one did.
Will grabbed the horses, then went back in for the saddle. He tried to grab the last of the feed, but his father stopped him.
He looked up, the hay loft was about to fall, and he would be crushed. But they needed the feed. He yanked it desperately, but the bag was too heavy.
Then, another pair of hands joined his. He looked to the side, and saw the girl that Hollander dropped. She looked at him for a second, then pulled on the bag of feed.
They got out just in the nick of time, the loft crashing down where they had just been a second ago.
Will strode angrily over to his father and snatched to rifle from him, aiming it at the pinprick of light that was Hollander's torch.
Dan grabbed the rife back. "I'll take care of this"
Will glared at his father. "No you won't"
He started to walk to the house, then turned.
"And look, now we've got another mouth to feed. It's all your fault!"
Will ran inside, pushing past his mother and brother and slamming the door to his room. Later, he heard Mark come back in and lay down.
"You know Will, I think you need to give Pa another chance"
Will ignored him.
"That girl's real pretty you know"
Mark smirked as his brother rolled over to face him. "I don't care where she comes from, I just want things to be normal"
"That means you like her"
Will rolled over again to face away from his little brother.
"That bitch can walk all the way back to Dodge if she wants to, she doesn't belong here, and if you like her, you can hitchhike too"
"Watch your mouth" Mark said, then rolled over to his other side.
Then, the painful silence rolled around them. After a couple of seconds, Will could hear Mark crying quietly. He sighed and rolled over.
"I'm sorry Mark"
He gently patted Mark's shoulder.
"I didn't mean it, but still... You know we don't need another mouth to feed"
Will bit his lip for a second, then started to tickle Mark.
"Will... Stop it! " Mark gasped.
"Fine, i'm getting up, I need water"
Will hopped out of bed and went into the kitchen. His parents were sitting at the table with the new girl, his mother bandaging her hands.
When he entered, they all looked up. "Will, do you think you could sleep on the pallet tonight?" His mother asked.
Will glared and walked to the sink to get some water, then turned around. "No way, if she needs somewhere to sleep, she can sleep outside"
"William" His mother said softly.
"No, if she wants to-"
He was interrupted by Mark.
"She can have my side of the bed, i'll sleep on the pallet"
While they had been talking, Mark had crept in. His mother started to say something, but the girl cut in.
"It's alright ma'am, i'll sleep on the floor"
Alice started to protest, but was stopped by a look from Dan. "Very well then" She said instead.
Later, Will laid in bed, his thoughts occupied by the odd girl that was now residing in their house.
She was covered in dust from head to toe, her hair could have been any color and no one would have been able to see it.
As he fell asleep, Will's last thought was that the new girl, however much she didn't belong here, was indeed, very pretty.