I have been thinking for a long time about what my next blog series might be, and I decided to do something very different. I decided to give you installments of a story as I work on it.
I have been tinkering with Wind Song Girl for going on fifteen years. It started as a poem from a dream I had, then it turned into a short story. At one point, I thought it might make a great script (which it still one day may), but for now, I am settled on the idea that I can turn it into a novel or a novella in the literary fiction genre.
By way of explanation, I do personally believe in past lives and reincarnation. That Indigo Girls song "Galileo" is one of my favorites. Sing along with me! "And then you had to bring up reincarnation over a couple of beers the other night..." You'll see why this is an important bit of information as the story progresses.
Set in Michigan in 1991, Wind Song Girl tells the story of Tiponi Red Hawk, whose life has been threatened by her mother's disappearance.
Enjoy, and please pass it on. The beauty of this form of storytelling is that you are coming with me on this organic journey of creation. I welcome feedback, questions, or ideas for where to go next! Free free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WIND SONG GIRL
The last time Tiponi looked at the sickening baby blue house, she stood at the edge of the driveway, chest heaving, lungs hurting from the early winter cold. She glared at the structure, steely-eyed, sizing up her enemy, waiting for it to make its move, lift itself off the foundation and lunge forward to pull her back inside. But the house did not budge. The white shutters remained unblinking, the large oak double doors curved into a slow, wide smirk as if to say, "You will not stay away from here for long."
Tiponi turned from the house and flew down the street, legs pulling, arms propelling her farther and faster. Away. At this moment, Tiponi finally understood the meaning of leave – or never come back. Of go or stay like it could be a request, a choice; not an order, nor a debt to be paid.
The last time she tried to run, it was mid-summer when the warm breeze and the smell of the river made everything feel open and flowing. She left at midnight when the moon was full, but only reached the outskirts of town. That time, Mama caught up to her in the old, rusted Ford pickup. As her mother drove the two of them back to the house, she held her only child to her chest, whispering to her, or to some spirit behind the wide-eyed moon, "You are my daughter. My wind-song girl. When you were born, you would not breathe. Grandmother Silwa pushed air into your lungs, and you sang your first song, long and clear. My daughter, you are all I ever have done right in this world. Do not leave me."
Now, Stitch Road stretched out before her, cold and voiceless, as Tiponi's long braid rolled from shoulder to shoulder while she ran. No hawks or crows, no wind, no one yelled in the house on the corner or the shacks down the street. No man's footsteps shuffled along to pay a visit to the house she hated. This is the beginning of its end, and somehow watching Tiponi, the road knew it.
In its day, Stitch Road was a busy thoroughfare to town. Four thousand people made this place by the river and mountains home, by force or by choice. Iroquois mostly, some Algonquins and Hurons, and even a few Chinooks who came east when the salmon chose not to let the nets take them. Little by little, the old women died, defeated and lost. The men, without their mothers, left drunk and hunched over, to shacks built on other people's homelands. Before the Great River dried out, Stitch Road became just that, a single stitch on the land's curving breast. The scavengers and the pests, foxes, buzzards, and fire ants were the only remaining squatters. The end had finally come.
Upstairs in Mama's bedroom, it still smelled like blood. Faintly metallic, rusty, stale. Mama's precious things had been thrown all over the floor. The tortoise brush her mother used every night to comb through her hip-length straight black hair lie shattered in the corner of the room. Tiponi's eyes recognized the familiar stains on the jade green bedspread, and the sight turned her stomach from deep within.
She sat in the corner watching her breath trail over her head and waited for the house to tip on its side. She had no doubt it would swallow her up like it did Mama. The wanting, the needing better things than the other Indian women; the feel of fine silk on her legs, her stomach finally ate Mama alive. The coarse wool was never enough for Mama. The life by the river never satisfied her. She made her daughter pay those debts to the house. Tiponi's day was ordered by clean this, scrub that, hem this. For as long as she could remember, Tiponi was a servant to this house, and she knew nothing of life beyond it.
The old ones thought the blue house unnatural, mostly because of the women within it. A Huron woman would not choose to live white, to wear beautiful clothes, furnish the home with meaningless trinkets and sell herself to anyone who would pay. A Huron woman would not build a house without a man and paint it blue, the color of the May sky.
Even still, the blue house on the corner of Stitch Road had plenty of visitors, none of whom talked much. Men mostly, but some women came too; they always slipped in the back door.
The house creaked and groaned against the January wind, and somewhere beyond the walls, Grandmother Silwa's voice floated forward into the silent space of Tiponi's mind as Tiponi sat in Mama's bedroom waiting for someone to tell her what to do next. Her Grandmother's spirit soothed Tiponi by retelling a story she had heard a million times of the good brother and the bad brother.
The good brother and the bad brother fought each other in this blue house with only a bag full of corn and the horn from a deer as weapons against their hatred for each other. The badgers and the frogs sat with Tiponi and watched from their perch in Tiponi's troubled mind, for they were the ones who fought to bring dry land from beyond the water so these brothers could be born.
Tiponi leaned against their imaginary warmth as her Grandmother's voice echoed from somewhere just beyond the edge of the room, as she retold the story of this battle between good and evil, between life and death. Tiponi did not recognize one brother because Mama kept taking his place, swinging a bag full of corn, her ribs popping out from under her yellow skin, her face churned into a grimace. She waits for Grandmother Silwa to interfere, to pull the fighting pair apart. But, Grandmother Silwa was long gone, past the eagle's land to a place Tiponi could not see no matter how hard she tried.
Maybe that's what I will do, thinks Tiponi, picking absentmindedly at a scab on her knee. I will walk west into the water. Walk west where Grandmother Silwa tells me all the Huron spirits go and dwell forever. Grandmother Silwa will be there, sitting at the bottom of the river, talking to the turtles. They will listen to her stories. Grandmother Silwa will remind the turtles how they told the other animals to bring up dry land for the divine woman to make the earth. I will come and lay my head in her lap so she can stroke my hair and sing to me of the torn place in the sky.