Talon watched Chiaha through the bedroom window as he slept. It had been a year since he learned that he had a son. Chiaha looked so peaceful lying there. He had been there since the sun had set. Talon just couldn’t muster up the courage to go introduce himself. What would he say? “Hi, Chiaha. I am your father, I know you don’t know me but I just wanted to come by and say hi. What? Oh no, I can’t stay long, if I am still here when the sun rises, I will burst into flames.” No, somehow he didn’t think that was a good idea.
He could feel that the sun would be rising soon and grudgingly pulled myself away from the window. He strolled silently around to the front of the house and dropped a sack full of money on the porch. Talon could barely see through the tears that streamed down his cheeks as he took to the air.
“Did you see him? How did it go?” Selu asked hoping for the best, but sure that the disappointment on his face meant that he hadn’t went through with it.
“Yes, I saw him, but…” He replied, choking down the lump that was building in his throat.
“Give it time, my friend. That is a big step even if it weren’t for your, uhm….peculiar
circumstances.” Nick offered his support.
“Oh, honey. I knew I should have gone with you.”
“No, I wanted to go alone and I went.”
“Tomorrow we will go back and see if we can meet him together.”
“I don’t know if I can do this, Selu. It would be different if I knew that I could take him with us, but I know that we can’t.”
“We will just have to explain to him that he can’t come with us because it would be dangerous for him.”
“He is young he won’t understand that. What if he thinks that we just don’t want him? We could be doing more harm than good. It would be better for him to continue to think me dead than think of me as the man who abandoned him.” Talon insisted, looking at her with tears in his eyes.
“Talon, you won’t be satisfied until you have talked to him.”
“I know. Tomorrow we will go to see him, but only on the condition that we go see him at least twice a week, if he likes me that is.”
“I am sure that would make me
“It will make you both
feel better; I promise. Watching him is one thing but to be able to actually talk to him…there is no substitute.”
“I hope we are doing the right thing.”
“We are, my love. You will see, but for now you need your rest we have an eventful day tomorrow.”
As he drifted in and out of sleep, he uttered a prayer to the gods that Chiaha would accept him. The boy was only six years old, how could he possibly react to him? The two things that concerned Talon most were: 1. that he would believe that his father really was alive but hadn’t cared enough to meet him before now and 2. That Talon was the reason that his mother had to leave him.
When Talon awoke the next evening, his stomach was already tied in knots. He eased out of the bed as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb Selu. When he went downstairs, Nick was already up and around. He looked up and smiled as Talon approached wearing a worried look.
“A little nervous, about tonight are you?”
“Worrying about isn’t going to change the outcome, friend. What will be, will be.”
“So you keep telling me and I know you are right. I just really have my doubts about subjecting him to us
, without being able to explain everything to him.”
“There you are!” Selu said from the top of the stairs. “I wondered if you decided to take off without me again.”
Talon merely shook his head.
“He is still worried about meeting Chiaha.”
“Ah, my poor Talon, it will be fine. You will see, he will happy to know that he has a father and you will be able to be a part of his life, a small part yes, but a part none the less.” Selu explained to him as she came over and sat on his lap.
“Well if we are really going to do this, let’s go before I lose my nerve again.”
In moments, they were outside of the Freeman’s farmhouse. Chiaha was playing soldier with Thomas and Willie. The couple watched the boys in silence for a few moments.
“He is growing so fast, look at him!” Selu said as she stepped into the yard.
“Mommy!” Chiaha screamed when he caught sight of his mother.
He dropped his wooden gun and came running with his arms stretched wide. His smile was so huge and warm that you couldn’t help but smile back. He jumped into Selu’s arms and gave her a big hug.
“I missed you, baby boy. I thought about you every day since the last time I saw you.” Selu said between the kisses she was placing on his forehead.
“I missed you too, mommy. Are you staying tonight? We already ate dinner but I bet Mrs. Edith has some food left for you and your friend if you are hungry.” Chiaha offered as he eyed Talon with curiosity.
“Thank you, sweetheart, but we are not hungry just now. I have someone here that really wants to meet you.” Selu told him as she sat him back to his feet.
“Hello, sir. My name is Chiaha. What’s yours?” He grinned up at Talon as he stuck out his hand for him to shake.
“My Name is Talon. It is very nice to meet you. I ….”
“Hey! My daddy’s
name was Talon; did you know him?” He interrupted, his eyes growing wide with surprise.
say that. Chiaha, I am your father.” Talon told him as he braced himself for the barrage of hateful remarks that was sure to come.
“Mom, is he telling the truth? Because if he isn’t, it is not a very funny joke to play on somebody.”
“Yes honey, he is. I found him, and as soon as I told him about you; he wanted to meet you.”
“Where were you? How come you couldn’t come back to the Talwa?” He asked Talon still suspicious of why he was there.
“I was in a dangerous place, Chiaha. It was one that I couldn’t escape from, because I wouldn’t be able to survive if I did.” Talon tried to explain in words that he thought Chiaha would understand.
“Why?” He asked, tilting his head to one side.
“I am not sure how to explain that to you. Just know that your mom helped me and I am free to come and go now.”
“Are you going to take me with you now?” He asked as his eyes grew large with anticipation.
“No, we can’t take you with us just yet. It is too dangerous for a little boy were we have to go, but we will come see you as often as you want us to.” Talon said, his heart breaking from having to disappoint his son already.
“If it’s dangerous, why does mommy go with you?”
“Don’t worry, son. Your mother is safe. I would sooner die than let harm come to her.” Talon was quick to explain. “But it would be the same for you, if you were with me. That is why I can’t bring you along. I would be too distracted trying to keep you both safe. Do you understand?”
“No. If it’s a bad place why do you have to go back?” He asked with a little frown on his face.
“Because your mom and I are trying to make it a better place. We have to go by ourselves for now, but we promise to make time for you.” Talon said as he patted him on the head.
“Will you come see me everyday?” He asked after a moment’s silence.
“If you want us to. There will be times that we won’t be able to, but we will always try.”
“Will you bring me presents?” He asked as his face broke into a smile just at the thought of it.
“Will you give me a hug?” Talon retorted, as he spread his arms out wide for him.
“I am glad that I got to meet you, dad. This is a weird day.”
“How do you mean?”
“This morning started out like every morning, but this evening; I have a dad.”
“Does this make you happy?” Selu asked what Talon couldn’t bring himself to do.
“Oh, yes. I thought a lot about what it would be like to have a dad. Now I can find out.”
“Hey do you want to play soldiers with me and Tommy and Willie?”
“I would love to son, but you had better let me introduce myself to Tom and Edith first.”
“Tommy! Willie! Guess what. My dad’s here! And he said he would play with us.” Chiaha was screaming as he ran where the boys were playing.
“His father?” Edith asked from the porch. “I thought you said that his father was.”
“I thought he was. That was part of what has been taking up so much of my time.”
“The boys will be happy to hear that Chiaha has his dad, but they will be sad that he has to go. They think of him as a brother now.”
“Actually, if it’s alright with you and Tom, we need to leave him here for a while longer. We still have a lot a work to do before it would be safe for him to come with us.”
“I am sure that will be fine. To tell you the truth we have all grown quite fond of the boy.”
“Did he tell you that they started to go to school?” She asked as an after thought.
“No, he didn’t. When did they start that?” Selu wondered with surprise.
“Last Monday. Tom took them down to the new schoolhouse that they opened in town. They seem to like it well enough. It will do them a lot of good. I was almost thirty years old before I learned how to read.”
“I recon that all three of the boys will do good to get a little education.” Tom said as he stepped through the door.
“I am Tom Freeman.” He said as he extended his hand to Talon.
“Hello, sir. My name is Talon Harjo. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. I have heard a lot about you both.”
“So you are not planning on taking Chiaha with you for a while I take it?”
“No sir, we will be seeing him more often than we do now, if that is alright with you, but we still can not take him with us.”
“That is plenty fine by me, Talon. You all have yourselves a fine boy there. He is loads of help for ma and me.”
“Would you all like to come in? I have some tea that I just made up fresh this morning.” Edith said as she moved towards the door.
“Not just yet, ma’am, but thank you anyways. I have my first promise to keep to my boy.”