Saturday, January 15, 2011

Skating To A New Beginning

This story is in response to Quilly's Assignment #1 -- she will do this every month.  She'll give us a prompt, and we write and publish on the 15th of each month.  Of course, I almost blew it today because I didn't realize today was the 15th.  Sigh.  At any rate, join us!

The prompt:

You received a set of clunky, old-fashioned roller skates from the oldest, most eccentric member of your family. The skates appear to be too small, so you try to return them. S/he insists you try them on. You decide to humor him/her. To your amazement the skates fit. Suddenly you are overcome with the urge to skate and … (tell us what happens next in 500 words or less).

I stretch out to enjoy the rhythm of the skates. I’m not paying much attention to my new surroundings as my muscles try to remember how to stay balanced and moving forward. When I finally take in the view, I’m nearing some children playing in the dust at the end of the walk. I slow to a crawl and then to a stop.

The children are shooting marbles in a circle. All of them are covered with the dust of the empty lot they play in. They are speaking some language I don’t understand, but they appear to be Indians.

 “Excuse me, can any of you tell me where I am?”

The oldest girl looks me in the face. Her eyes widen and she jumps up. She exclaims, “You have the nahinge on your face.” The smaller children gather around the oldest Indian girl, whispering to her fiercely.

My hand flies to my face to cover the birthmark I normally keep hidden by makeup. It’s a port-wine stain and it covers most of the space between my left eye and down to my chin. Since I’ve been living with my sister and her family, I haven’t been covering it. I was in such a hurry to skate this morning I completely forgot.
I feel the hot sting of tears. The humiliation of all of the teasing I endured back in Tennessee comes rushing back.  I push away from the children and start down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. But because of the tears I can’t see clearly and stumble over a protrusion in the sidewalk. The next thing I know I’m on my hands and knees, sobbing.

Suddenly a strong arm reaches down to lifts me to my feet. Still embarrassed, I don’t want to look up. More importantly, I don’t want the nice-smelling man attached to the arm to see my face.

“Are you alright, miss?” a kind voice inquires.

“Yes, thank you,” I answer.

“I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you. I’m Benson Wilson,” he says.

I am forced by good manners to look him in the eye.  I am overwhelmed with the kindness and beauty in the face of this Indian man.

“I’m Lara Williams.  I’m sorry if I frightened the children.”

“You didn’t frighten them. In our culture, the mark you have on your face is known as a sign of God’s special favor. They were afraid they offended you. We would like to make it up to you by offering you lemonade at my mother’s home.”

“That would be nice. Are all these children yours?”

His laugh is full of joy, his dark eyes dancing and his gleaming smile wide, “No, they are my nieces and nephews. I am not yet married.”

I relax and smile back. Suddenly I realize that the new start I had hoped for in Indian Territory is beginning right now.

NOTE: The people in this story are real -- distant relatives, although I've changed the names.  The young woman really was sent to Oklahoma to live with her sister's family, hoping that the shortage of white women out there would help her find a husband. Instead, she fell in love with an American Indian. They married, but never had children. Her family, other than her sister and brother-in-law, never received her again.


quilly said...

That story is all at once happy and sad. I am glad that your distant relative found love, even if it wasn't from her blood family.

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

A Story that is Sad in some respects but Happy for the ones it is about.

Barbara H. said...

That's so sad that her family shut her out. But I am glad she found happiness.