Pipeline

I don’t feel the earth breathing. Mid-spring, and everything around us is dead. We were barely living anyway, surviving on malt liquor that singed pathways down our throats. Now we crave alcohol to clear away the sludge lining the walls of our esophagus from the oil we drink in our water.

Standing Rock is deserted. Most Lakota have crossed the border into Canada, where they are more respectful of our sacred lands, where the ground isn’t sterilized by the rust of metal—thunderous pipelines that extend for miles.

I’ve stayed behind, me and Chief. Day after day, we pray for Wakan Tanka, Great Spirit, to heal us of this invasive snake, which occupies our home and drains her of all signs of life. While walking the Plains, we discover gallons of crude venom has spilled from an open sore and permeated the ancient graves.

The hope we hold onto still resides, but it thins even more, as the fuel driven noose around our necks tightens, choking us to death.

—Nortina

Oreo Cookies | Chapter 3 | Part 4

Cheyenne: Mixed and Matched continued

“So I bought that gargantuan turkey for no reason!” Rebekah’s blond hair tumbled from the crown of her head as she stood in front of the bathroom mirror and plucked Bobbi pins from her high bun.

“I really wanted to cook the turkey for everyone.” Cheyenne sat on the lid of the toilet, knees drawn to chin.

“There’s always next year, sweetie.”

“I won’t be in Mrs. Watson’s class next year!”

“Well.” Rebekah shook out her hair, scratched her scalp. “I’ll just stick it in the freezer. We’ll eat it for Christmas. You’ll cook it for the family like you always do.”

“Oh, alright.” Cheyenne poked out her bottom lip and slid down from the toilet. She wrapped her arms around her mother’s thigh and stared down and her pedicured toenails, painted pastel pink.

“Being an Indian could be fun.” Rebekah traced the tip of her fingers down the back of Cheyenne’s neck then slipped her hand underneath Cheyenne’s sweater and rubbed her back between her shoulder blades. “They have powwows, and you already wear your hair in pigtail braids. And what’s cooler than a headband with a feather in it?”

“Am I part Indian?”

“That’s an odd thing to ask.” Rebekah lifted Cheyenne’s chin toward her. “Did someone tell you that?”

“Mrs. Watson said I look like it, and my name is Indian.”

“Cheyenne can be a girl’s name too,” Rebekah said in a high-pitched voice, as if trying to convince herself. “I thought it was cute.” Rebekah leaned over Cheyenne and tore a sheet of toilet tissue from the roll behind her. She dampened it under the running faucet, brought it to her lips. “That woman’s got some nerve,” she said to her reflection in the mirror as she forcibly wiped red lipstick from her lips. “She’s been trying to figure out what you are ever since you started at that school.”

“But what am I?” Cheyenne asked.

Rebekah sighed, balled the wet, pink tissue in her fist and tossed it into the trashcan. “I don’t know, sweetheart. Your father once told me he had a little Cherokee in him, but they all say that.”

“They all who?”

Rebekah squatted to be at eye level with Cheyenne. She grabbed Cheyenne by the shoulders, pulled her closer so that their noses almost touched. “You’re my daughter. That’s all that matters,” she said. “Now come on, let’s buy your costume. You’ll be the cutest little Indian princess on stage.”

 

They searched unsuccessfully for a Pocahontas costume. Halloween had passed. The ghost and ghouls replaced by turkey balloons, harvest colored placemats, two for one foil pie dishes, and from the back corner of the stores, artificial snow, reindeer lawn decorations, diamond-shaped evergreens, and glass ornaments crept onto the shelves.

Rebekah didn’t want Cheyenne to look like every other dressed-up Indian girl. “We’ll make one instead. Yours should be unique anyway.” They pieced the outfit together from store to store. At the Shoe Department, Rebekah bought kids’ moccasin slippers. Then from across the street at Michael’s Arts and Crafts, she bought needle and thread—super glue if sewing proved to be too difficult—brown, yellow, and orange beads to decorate the moccasins with, and crane feathers for the headband.

At JC Penny, they browsed the racks for brown fringe skirts. “Do they have anything that isn’t short?” Rebekah complained. On the clearance rack, she found a sepia suede skirt that came down just past Cheyenne’s shins. It was two sizes too big. In the fitting room, Cheyenne held her arms out to the side while Rebekah stood behind her and pinched the fabric together at the waistline. If she bought it, she would have to pin it down and hope the skirt would stay up above Cheyenne’s slim hips. “We’ll make it work,” she said. In the women’s department, she picked up a brown leather belt and a leather fringe vest. “Funny how they call all this stuff cowgirl clothes,” Rebekah scoffed as the sales clerk scanned the price tags at the register. “Like the Westerners didn’t steal it from somebody.” Cheyenne drummed her fingers on the counter, anxious to see how all the pieces would look together on her.

They spread old newspaper across Cheyenne’s bedroom floor. Cheyenne lay on her stomach while Rebekah cut the vest in half then snipped the fringe into thinner, shorter strips. Cheyenne, under her mother’s warnings not to glue her fingers together, squeezed droplets of superglue onto the backs of the fringe pieces, flipped them over, and pressed them onto the suede skirt at the waistline so that it fashioned a belt, and just above the hem so that the fringe tickled her legs when she walked. Once she had completely circled the bottom and top edges of the skirt with fringe, she laid it to the side to dry, and then they started on the sewing.

Cheyenne strung the beads onto the laces of the moccasins while Rebekah threaded the needle. Then Rebekah sewed the laces together so that the beads wouldn’t fall off. Next, Rebekah beaded the thread and weaved it into the sides of the moccasins. The beads hung off the slippers like crescents and jangled when she shook them. “It’ll be like you’re a little grass dancer!” Rebekah exclaimed as she sat the moccasins next to the skirt.

Lastly, Rebekah wrapped the leather belt around Cheyenne’s head to measure the circumference needed for the headband then cut off the unnecessary ends. To tie it together, she wrapped the belt into a halo, stuck the needle through the two belt holes on the end and looped the thread around several times until she could not tear it apart. Then Cheyenne poked the stems of the feathers through the holes and pulled them partway down so the fuzz would fill the space and hold the feathers in place.

“Shall we try it on?” Rebekah picked up the headband and carefully slid it down Cheyenne’s head to the top of her ears as if crowning a princess. She tugged at the feathers so they stood erect at the back of Cheyenne’s head. “How does that feel?”

Cheyenne hurriedly nodded her head until she was dizzy.

“We did a banging good job! You’re gonna look awesome in that play.” Rebekah swept Cheyenne up into a tight bear hug and planted a wet kiss on her forehead between the top of her headband and her hairline.

© Nortina Simmons

Oreo Cookies | Chapter 3 | Part 3


So I’ve been promising a conclusion to Chapter 3 for the past several weeks now. Promises are made to be broken, but again, I’m promising that it will come next Friday. See you there! 🙂

Chosen by the Buffalo

They followed the buffaloes and their babies along the trail heading into the woods.

Little Grass Star’s father instructed him to stand close behind him. He was not yet old enough to hunt, so he watched as the bigger, stronger warriors held their spears out and slowly approached a small buffalo that had wandered off from the herd.

Suddenly, Little Grass Star felt hot, moist breath on his neck. He turned to face the beast, its large nostrils at eye level. Little Grass Star started to call for his father, but noticed that the animal was unusually calm. He reached in his belt for his dagger and the buffalo bowed its head. Without hesitation, Little Grass Star drove the blade through the buffalo’s skull between its eyes.

The older men saw the young boy standing over the fallen giant and howled in commendation.

“He will now be called Chosen by the Buffalo,” the elder said.

Chosen by the Buffalo’s father smiled with pride.  

word count: 149

—Nortina


This is in response to Mondays Finish the Story: a flash fiction challenge where we provide you with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. Your challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided.

Click the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own.

2015-04-20-bw-beacham

Ojibwe Lesson

The neighbors were not happy about my choice of yard art . . .

They’d rather see it carted off to an isolated reservation, so that every time they leave their homes, they aren’t reminded of how they and their fathers decimated a people, even down to our name. We are not Chippewa. Chippewa came from their foolish vernacular, created with uncultured tongues because they couldn’t form their mouths around our verb-heavy, Anishinaabemowin language.

Mrs. Thompson worried my statues would frighten her children at the bus stop, so I sent them beautifully beaded moccasins to dance in while they waited for the school bus to take them to a building where they’ll be taught to call me a savage.

“What is this supposed to mean?” Mrs. Ringrose asked, and I inscribed my history onto birch bark scrolls and posted them on her front door the next morning.

I doubt she will read it. They are all too comfortable in their ignorance.

word count: 147

—Nortina


This is in response to Mondays Finish the Story: a flash fiction challenge where we provide you with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. Your challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided.

Click the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own.

2015-04-13-bw-beacham