Poor Misunderstood Easterly
Clouds in the sky were welcome in the summertime southwest. Rain may not fall today but the promise of heat-busting relief floated overhead. It was an extraordinary morning under the trees near the Rio Grande. Cool and fresh.
And Easterly was miserable.
All he wanted to do was visit and hear new stories. Anybody would. What was wrong with that? They took advantage of him. Not the other way around. They were the ones that almost killed Hund. Then a stranger—a girl—shows up. Atá Halné acts like she is the risen Savior and Easterly should apologize. For what?
Hund licked Easterly’s hand. The young man was on the verge of crying and swallowed to keep his throat from tightening. He scratched Hund’s neck and glanced away, to where his family stud and Skewy were grazing. He was able to ride the skewbald horse when no one else could. He did it by showing kindness and patience. Hund licked him again.
The animals were telling him.
Forgiveness and charity were the ways to inclusion. Well, he would offer those blessings to this new girl and Atá Halné. To everyone from now on for that matter. Since no one was showing him the same consideration, he would surely be a Saint.
A noble self-pity rose so strong in him that he couldn’t hold back the tears. He kept his head bowed so they wouldn’t notice, but that made it worse. The tears dropped and they couldn’t help but see if they were watching him. “I’m sorry, Ethel Mel.” He knew her name but intentionally used the wrong one, acting confused to cover the apparent blunder. It was a small, malicious victory. His secret, which told the cosmos, “I don’t mean it. I’m still the one that people should apologize to.”
It didn’t slip past Atá Halné. “Her name’s Esther May.”
“I’m sorry, Esther May. Thank you for … everything.” He couldn’t bring himself to say “saving me.”
“Think no more of it. You would have done the same for me.”
He hadn’t noticed how sweet her voice was before. And she understood. It had been a situation beyond his control and she knew he was the true victim. A rush of gratitude replaced his sorry-for-myself misery.
“Now that’s out of the way,” Atá Halné said, we need to have an Ats’os Bee Alzhishí. A powwow.
The Way Is Clear – Isn’t It?
The Navajo and the two teenagers sat in the shade of a cottonwood tree. Hund stayed nearby, alternately getting up and trying his balance on three legs before flopping down to rest.
“What happened here restored harmony,” Atá Halné said. “When things tip too far one way, they have to come back.”
Easterly had heard this philosophy before. It made sense to him.
Atá Halné gestured across the clearing. “The wagon and all that’s in it belong to Esther May, as does the team.” He waved his hand edgewise between him and Easterly. “We have everything we arrived with and even had coffee and bacon provided to us.” He looked at Hund. “Some things in life are hard. But we are alive and recovering. What do we do now?”
Easterly sat upright. “What do you mean? Are you saying we change our way?”
What does Atá Halné mean? Leave a comment.
To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.
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