by Brian G. Ross -
The afternoon sun shone brightly upon the dark blue of Lava Lake, and Toby the Triceratops looked at his reflection as it danced in the water. His dad came up beside him and smiled.
“What are you doing, son?”
Toby’s little legs were like branches while his dad’s were as thick as tree trunks, and his bony collar looked puny and weak next to his dad’s magnificent one.
Toby looked at both of their reflections and slapped his hoof against the surface of the water to make the picture disappear. He turned away from the water and looked up to his father.
“Dad, why do I only have two horns and you have three?” Toby touched the small stub on his nose with one of his hooves.
His dad smiled. “Don’t worry, Toby. You are still just a young Triceratops. Be patient. One day, when you grow up, you will be as large and distinguished as your father.”
“I promise,” his dad said.
But Toby was not so sure. He told his dad he was going for a walk and went out into forest where the air was cool, and the bright yellow sunshine poked through the treetops.
But try as he may, Toby could not forget about his missing horn.
Birds sang sweet songs that Toby tried to hum along with, and everything beneath the dark green leaves smelled like pine cones. Mosquitoes buzzed and butterflies flapped, and Toby chased them all.
Soon, out of breath, he reached a clearing in the forest and came across his friend, Derek the Diplodocus.
Derek was thin and grey and eating leaves for lunch from the tallest trees he could find. When Derek saw Toby, he stopped munching and lowered his head.
“Why do you look so sad, Toby?” he said, his voice low and deep.
“I want to look like my dad.” Toby sighed.
“But you do look like your dad.”
Toby shook his head. “My dad’s collar is huge and has lots of pretty colors. Mine is small and dull and boring.”
Derek looked at Toby’s muddy brown collar and nodded. “Hmmm, yes. I see what you mean. I guess you just have to wait until you grow up,” he said.
“That’s easy for you to say with your long neck and your even longer tail,” Toby said. “You’re already just like your dad.”
But Derek just shrugged and went on chewing the leaves.
Toby said goodbye to Derek and carried on through the forest. He went past a great waterfall that stretched far up into the sky, and he shivered as the cold water splashed onto his back.
Soon enough he reached another clearing and bumped into his friend, Simon the Stegosaurus.
Simon was large and low and making himself a sandwich out of grass and flowers. When Simon saw Toby, he smiled and picked up his knife.
“What’s up, Toby?” Simon asked, his mouth full, as he spread butter on another slice of bread.
Toby kicked a stone in front of him. It went spinning along the ground. “I wish I looked like my dad,” he said...