In the inipi, amongst the heat and haze of smoke, a grandfather speaks to me.
There are voices, these voices penetrate the darkness. They seem to pull at me, but I cannot understand what they say or want. Are they chanting? Or are they singing? Light and dark begin to dance in chaos around me.
They are forcing me out of the darkness, out of the nothingness. Did I fall asleep? I am unsure of why or where I am. The only thing I know is I dare not move or make a sound.
The farther out of the darkness I’m pulled, the clearer the voices become. Their chanting is changing giving way to two distinct voices.
“Let’s go home. This place is creepy.” The first voice echoes in my head.
“Of course, it’s creepy, this is an Indian burial site!” The second voice barks back. His words cause me to hesitate.
“I thought you said this is where the church would dump dead Indian kids?” Voice one counters.
“Same diff. Either way Indian bodies are buried here so it’s an Indian burial site.” Voice two echoes louder and harsher.
“Whatever, let’s just finish this so we can leave already.” Voice one is anxious like a rabbit desperate to run for safety.
Suddenly I am afraid. Where am I? Why was I sleeping in this place? Am I here alone, where are the others?
Had we escaped? If so, where are the others? Are they hiding?
We are always hiding, we are always afraid.
The voices dissipate into the darkness leaving a heavy silence in their wake.
Cautiously, I look around me as I make my way to where the voices had been.
Now, where the voices had been there is a light. The soft glow of light is emitted by an elder Indian man whittling. He is dressed in Traditional Regalia singing softly to himself. There is something so familiar about his dress and mannerisms. My heart aches to remember, my body is physically drawn to him.
In a whisper of memory it comes back to me. I remember this dress from my mother’s arms. I remember this song, a lullaby from my mothers’ language. I also remember what happened to those who dressed and spoke this way.
Why is this man dressing and speaking so dangerously? Was this old man crazy? Is he not aware? It is illegal to be Indian.
“Hey there little one.” He calls to me.
Afraid, I am unable to respond.
“Did those crazy kids wake you too? Damn stupid kids can’t even respect our peace in this life.” He grumbles as lightning flashes dancing around him.
In this darkness, he is the only light, drawing me to him. “Where are we?” I ask.
His eyes become sad. Suddenly, there is an intense flash. His whole being lights up. Thunder rumbles and lightning illuminates the area around him.
The light within him flares consuming him in its intensity. It is just an instant, but it is a blinding light of pure rage. Terror grips me a second before the warrior consumed with rage, fades back to the Grandfather with sad eyes.
Trapped in the darkness there is only fear and pain. I am scared in the suffocating darkness. What is this a memory? Do I run? But where would I go?
The Grandfather before me sits wearily on the ground. “Little one, you are a spirit same as me.” He closes his eyes as if suddenly weary with the weight of our truth.
“Our bodies laid to rest until those stupid kids come. Outsiders come playing with magic and worlds they do not understand. Idiots, all of them, stupid luck this time it was just a child and an old man. But the fact remains you are here and you being here means there is something tying you to this world.”
“What are you saying?” I ask wanting to deny the implication of his words. “What would I have to finish?” There are others too.
Where are the others? We had worked hard to escape. What are we running from? Where are we running to? “The spirits who are unaware of their passing, or those who died with unfinished business… These are the spirits easiest to call forth.” His voice gentles. “Did you not realize you died little one?”
Dead that have unfinished business? Dead that did not realize they died? Suddenly the weight of his words come crashing down, pushing me to the ground in front of him.
“I am dead?” I ask.
“Yes” he confirms.
“Do you remember your life now little one?” He asks me.
I close my eyes against the memories. “I remember.” I whisper. I remember.
The night air is chilly, but we are not cold. We are alive. The taste of freedom is so close, so intoxicating. Turning slightly, I silently count the others to make sure no one was left behind. Everyone accounted for. I Wave my hand signaling them forward.
We must make it to the forest before they notice our absence. Our only chance to conceal ourselves within the night shadows. I whisper a fervent prayer for our safety as I push us forward. The only sound is the soft fall of our footsteps as we push forward. None of us dare to speak, we are too afraid to make a sound.
At the forest’s edge, I turn back one last time. Our escape is still unnoticed. With a sigh of relief upon my lips, I grab her trembling hand. We slip unnoticed into the forest shadows.
1st Encounter of the Living
“Father, it is dark and cold out tonight let me walk you home.” Danny calls to me.
“Thank you Danny, that would be appreciated.” I am glad to accept. I do not want to be alone tonight.
Tonight, memories keep rushing in, they threaten to overwhelm me. Memories of urges, brought on by want. Desires demanding of tender young bodies, and tight virgin flesh. The ultimate submission as flesh tears giving way to my demands.
“Father, tonight your sermon was moving as always, but… I am confused regarding your reference about saving the savages.” Young Danny contemplated, drawing me back from the darkness.
“What confuses you son?” I ask of him, wiping sweat from my brow, discreetly readjusting the evidence of my desire.
“How can we continue to save Indian children if we do not consider them human beings? If they are animals shouldn’t we just abandon them and let them stay wild?” Danny asked me.
“If we abandon, or ignore their existence, what will become of them? How will their existence impact our own? They are a savage race! Pagans! No, their existence is too much of a threat to leave alone.” I was reciting justifications of genocide, an excuse to take. The same lines fed to me once before my ideals lost to my desires.
Defensively, I continue drilling into young Danny the importance of subduing the Indians.
“If we do not control or exterminate them they will continue to threaten our existence here. Since their numbers are too great to exterminate, they leave us with no choice. It has become necessity to continue subduing the savages. We must force them to become compliant to our ways. To save the man we must kill the Indian.” I reiterated General Pratt’s words of justifying our theft of Indian culture and land.
“Your right father, I know you are. I just wish they would disappear. I believe extinction of their kind would best serve God-fearing Christians. But you are right, we cannot risk our own.” Young Danny agrees full of youthful passion.
“There is much work for us to do. So, for the present time all we can do is to continue following God’s will obediently. That means we can no longer allow them to threaten our way of life. We are charged with doing God’s work and it is hard work. That is why you must be strong and teach hostile savage’s the way of redemption.” I lectured.
My mind kept replaying images of their exposed naked bodies. I could almost feel the soft and smooth flesh under my caress. The memories of power as virgin flesh tore giving way to an innocents blood, bathing my basest needs.
The satisfaction of fulfilling my lust, using the pretense of redeeming heathen souls in God’s name. Fear kept them compliant or they died fighting, either way I won.
I cleared my throat suddenly wanting nothing more than to be alone with my memories and the raging desire of days now gone.
“Well than goodnight young Danny, may God be with you.” I mumbled hastily making my retreat.
I was already on the road back to the days I longed to relive, feasting on desire, my will and word absolute. I dearly missed my reign as head priest at the Indian Boarding School.
“Where are the others?” I ask the grandfather.
“They are not here little one. There is no one buried here who shared your fate.” He assures. “I do not know their fate, but can assure you their path did not end here.”
“What do I do now? Where do I go from here?” I ask, even though I am not sure if I want to know.
“That is for you to decide.” He states with a shrug of his shoulders. “The fact you are here means you have an attachment to this world. I can offer you guidance and protection, but that is all I can do for you little one.” He shakes his head regretfully.
“Think hard little one and tell me your answer when we rise again with the setting of the sun.” The old man instructs, drawing attention to our fading forms. “Do not fear little one. Take this time to find what you need to leave in order to leave this world behind.”
Why was I here? What attachment kept me bound to this world? What am I doing here?
-End part 1
This is part 1 in a 5 part series
by Rae Rose
My name is Rae Rose and I live in the Pacific Northwest. I have always, always loved stories. I love writing, reading, listening and imaging the words coming to life. My youth was not the happiest and it is not an exaggeration when I say stories saved me more than once.
Every story I tell carries a seed of truth. Mine and of those who were not able to survive. Every story is special and personal to my heart. It is my hope that you enjoy the stories and find comfort, love, and laughter in my words.
*Rae Rose (Paiute, Mayan, Japanese) is a writer based in the Northwest. Follow her @Rae_Rose7