Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Search for Chiaha

The sun was already breaking through the canopy of trees as she walked away from the old saloon. She could barely see where she was going through the tears that streamed from her eyes. Why was she given such a choice as this? The Gods could be so cruel. She had been given two loves and only the capacity to fully embrace one. If she chose Talon, she chose a life led in darkness, but a life never ending. If she chose to stay with Chiaha, she would live out her days in the light and still know unconditional love, but a mortal love. Her heart was torn so badly it almost hurt to breathe.

He was near Guthrie. She wasn't sure how to get there, but that is where he was. He would be staying with the freeman family, until she could find her way back to him. Tom and Edith Freeman, as well as their two children where moving there for a fresh start. They were a black family who journeyed into Indian Territory in hopes of making a good life for their children. Selu ran across them on her flight from the Talwa the day that she was captured.

Selu thought it would be safer if they split up while she was being pursued. After all, it was her that they would be after not him. She had seen them taking several women as they made their way through the Talwa. She and a few others managed to make it out of the melee before they could be captured.

The Freemans were reluctant, at first, to let Chiaha go with them. After Selu explained to them what was happening. They agreed to take him to Guthrie. Several months had passed since she was captured. She wondered if they thought her dead. She had to find them, find Chiaha. Then everything would be all right.

She worried about her safety for the trip. There had been talk of a war between the northern and southern states. It was a war that had spilled over into the Indian Territory. There had already been several skirmishes that she had heard of.

The last battle, that she heard of, happened at Chustenahlah where the Indians that supported the Union were soundly defeated. Who knew where the next one would take place. She could only hope that it would not be on the path that led to Chiaha.

She traveled for three whole days before she found the booming little town of Guthrie. She stopped at the general store to ask if the shop keep new where the Freemans lived. When she told him who she was, the man behind the counter, Frank, looked at her with a knowing smile and gave her directions.

“Chiaha will be very glad to see you.” He said as she walked out of the door.

The sun was nearly set as she walked up to the front door. Her heart was beating fast with anticipation. Her hand was trembling as she knocked on the door. She began to cry with the realization that she had found him. She quickly tried to dry her eyes as Tom opened the door. He stepped out of the doorway to allow Selu to enter.

“Chiaha! Come here boy. Your mother is here.” He called as he shut the door behind her.
“Look at you, son! Growing like a weed. Momma has missed you so much.” She said as she began to cry again.
“He was in good hands, ma’am.” Said Edith as she stepped out of the kitchen.
“We were beginning to wonder if you were going to find us or not.” Tom said with a raised eyebrow.
“I know and I am so sorry. You would not believe all that I have been through to get back to my boy.” She said as she looked at the floor.
“Momma, where have you been? I have looked for you everyday.” Chiaha said has he hugged her tight.
“I'm here now Chiaha; that is all you need to worry about okay, honey?” She said as she mussed up his hair.

“Are you hungry dear? I have some food left over from dinner. I could make you a plate. It would be no trouble at all.” Edith offered, smiling at the reunited pair.
“I am starved! That would be wonderful. If you are sure it is alright, that is.” Selu said as she stood and picked Chiaha up.
“It will be dark soon. Do you have a place to stay tonight?” Tom asked, sure that the answer was no.
“No sir, I am on foot and penniless at the moment.” She said as she looked down again trying to conceal the shame she felt for all that she had been through.
“Well if you are willing to help work the farm, you are more than welcome to stay here. We have an extra room. Besides, Willie and Thomas have grown quite attached to the boy.” Tom said with a laugh.
“You are too kind, Tom. Your boys are close to age with Chiaha aren't they? He is almost five.” Selu asked, smiling down at Chiaha.
“Willie is five and Thomas is seven. So they treat him like another brother.” Edith said as she brought Selu a plate of salt cured ham and beans.
“That boy of yours is as smart as a whip. He picks up on anything you try to teach him.” Tom said as he reached over and patted the boy on the back.

Chiaha insisted on sitting by his mother while she ate her meal. It was as if he was afraid that if she left his sight, even for a moment, she would disappear again. After dinner, Edith showed Selu where she could sleep. It was a spare room that Edith had been using as a sewing room, but Selu was happy to make a pallet on the floor as long as it was under the same roof that Chiaha slept under. After Selu had gotten Chiaha settled in for the night, she sat with the Freemans and listened to all that they had done since the came to Guthrie.

“They found you didn't they? We prayed for you, but we feared the worse when you didn’t show up after a few days.” Tom asked after he had filled her in on how well her boy had been taken care of.
“Yes they found me and held me captive for what seemed like an eternity. As soon as I was able to escape, I came here.” Selu told him not wanting to tell him any more than that.
“Well sweetie your safe now that is the important thing” Edith told her as she reached out and patted her hand.
“We know all too well the feel of chains. You don't have to talk about it none if you don't want to.” Tom said with a nod.

The next day Selu began to help with all of the chores. Tom commented that she was stronger than she looked and would make a fine hand. Selu was happy with the new arrangement. She was able to work for her room and board and was able to spend plenty of time with her son. She tried not to think of Talon, but her mind kept returning to his handsome face. She could still see the love in his eyes as looked at her from across the table the night that they were reunited.

One day after Selu had been with them for a few weeks, she was helping Edith pull weeds from the garden. Edith sat back on her heels and watched Selu as she worked.
“Selu, you seem to be in a far away place honey. Is there anything you want to talk about? If I didn't know better I would say that you had a broken heart.” She said as she playfully threw a handful of weeds at Selu.
“Yes, Edith, my heart does ache. Chiaha's father, Talon, was my one true love. He disappeared before Chiaha was born. I conceived him the morning that He left.” She began.
“Why did he leave?” Edith asked confused why something that happened so many years ago appeared to be so fresh on her mind.
“He was going to explore some caves with some friends. He never returned. We found the bodies of Ani and Wiya, our friends that were with him, on the outskirts of our Talwa.” She paused as she choked back the tears. “We could only assume that Talon was dead also.”
“And you don't believe that he is, I take it. When you love someone it is hard to believe that they are truly gone.” Edith responded with a nod.

“No, he is dead. I am sure of it.” She finally answered with a self-resolve that she hadn’t felt before.
“That had to be over five years ago, Selu and yet your heart still mourns for him. That was true love indeed.” Edith said as she moved closer and held her hand.
“Yes, it was and yes, my heart still mourns. He occupies my thoughts almost constantly.” Selu confided without revealing that the wounds of her heart were just freshly reopened.
“Then you must be in his thoughts as well. He is probably looking down on you from heaven, just waiting on his chance to be reunited with you.” Edith said, as she patted the back of her hand.
Well this is a topic I don't want to get into a discussion about today. Selu still held the teachings of the old religions dear to her heart. She had been unconvinced by the Christian missionaries and all of their teachings of the one true god. To her there were many gods and when men died, they were destined to return. Except for Talon, he had died and yet he returned in the same body. He returned to live forever, forever in darkness. He may look down on her someday, but it wouldn’t be from heaven, it would be from behind the clouds in the night sky.


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