Gripped by the terror encircling, he cried out one last time. The harrowing silence fell on pointed ears. He sat, limbs curled underneath him; frozen by history and the blinding winter. Old Grey smelt the end.
The cave provided time to think about his next move. He admired the pine trees, like statues ladled with snow. The birds had long gone. And they? Why had he stayed? Pride? His ancient love of living at the edge of life. Major had warned him. But then, Old Grey had always won. Until now.
The forest stretched out before him, his land of battles: for territory, for love, for his family, for his past and their future. The endless winters had broken into summers full of promise, but they now dwindled to nothing. Everything was on the move, and yet… they had remained.
But so had Red. Old Grey pictured those crimson eyes searching the forest’s dark purple corners. He had to finish this before everything he had survived was lost forever. Red was stronger now, and quicker. Red’s time was soon.
But Old Grey knew parts Red didn’t. He knew holes and ravines and fallen branches that Red still had to find. He stood stiffly and sniffed the air. Trapped bugs, leaves hung with winter’s ice, and forgotten human footprints filled his senses. He closed his eyes.
Little Grey was safe. For now. But he would have to be moved before the next snowfall. Old Grey hated to use the word home, but this is what his horizon was. Major had wanted him to look further. He couldn’t grasp it then. He saw it now. Maj. Remembering her again swiped his breath from his lungs. He opened his eyes and looked out, barely able to face the journey ahead without her.
There was a twinkle in the distance, then two. He might have to say goodbye sooner than he wanted, but he could still save his last son.
He padded out gently into the woods.
The word we had to include was GRASP: its third meaning is to lay hold of within the mind, COMPREHEND.
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