I used to love crawling underneath my family's trailer when the days started to get hot. It was the darkest, shadiest, and quietest place I knew, where I could think and daydream all I wanted without being lectured to return to school, or to do my chores.

Of course, it would've gotten awfully lonely if I hadn't had company, but I did; the best of company in fact. My dog Storm was never far from me. He was a big dog—bigger than me, for sure, though that's not saying much. Funnily enough, it was I who found him underneath that trailer many years ago. Some coyote must've had her pups there and then abandoned them; I found two corpses, smaller than my hand, and one feebly stirring scrap of fur. He was crawling with ticks and moments from death; I sat in my trailer all day pulling parasites out of his ears and from between his toes and the like; then I suckled him on goat's milk using a rag as a nipple.

Mam and da said it was a waste—that he'd surely die like his brothers. But I was stubborn, even at that age. I opened my tunic and put him on my breast, right atop my heart.

"I'm small, too," I had urged him. "But listen to how strong my heartbeat is."

And listen he did; he grew fat on goat's milk, strong on hearty goat blood. Tiny hunks of meat opened his eyes; droplets of precious water gave height to his bones. Soon he could come and go as he pleased, and he'd always return with a gift; a marlee's egg, perhaps, or a lizard.

I named him Storm, because of the thundering gray of his eyes, and his tendancy to appear when needed most.

He grew to love my villiage, and they him; he was always there to keep wild dogs at bay during hunts; and his warning barks kept everyone inside as the season of Sunbursts approached.

But it was me who he returned to every night. He'd curl beside my mat on the floor, and he'd put his head on my chest; my heart was his lullaby. He and I had a bond that couldn't be understood or broken, and it was that bond that kept me standing after what was shortly about to commence, when everything I'd ever loved was turned to dust.

But I'm getting too far ahead of myself, aren't I? You're probably wondering who I am.

Hello. My name is Zabrina, and my story begins on my thirteenth birthday; the day I lost everything. Or, almost everything.