By Lin Stone
There's just something about knowing you have
courage that gives you more courage. Several miles before we
reached the house where Shiuhshnay now lived I was sitting up
straight and looking all around me. There was nothing inside
the shape shifter that I recognized but outside I saw mesquite trees
and palo verde trees inching towards us, then shooting past.
Behind us was the dust of a thousand tomorrows, as if the shape
shifter wanted everyone on the reservation to know we were coming.
Shiuhshnay did not know we were coming, that's for sure. When I motioned us into the narrow pass where her hogan nestled she leaped to her feet and the collapsed in under her. Her blue skirt swirled high and the silver dollars dragged it back down. The shape shifter was silent, watching her for a moment.
Then Johnny Two Shoes got out and went to kneel beside the girl. At just that moment Juee Muthisu came tearing out of the hogan with a broom held high over her head. She flailed the head of Johnny Two Shoes with her broom and brought immediate blood from his face. "Juee, Juee," he cried.
Juee ran out of breath but she kept the broom right in Johnny's face. "Witch, WITCH! You go long away, leave my daughter aside and never come back." Then she saw me and changed her words to the plural stranger tense. "You (two) go long away, (both you) leave my daughter aside and (both you-s) never come back."
|It was the first tongue-lashing I had ever
received and it hurt so much I was bawling. Johnny Two Shoes
back into the shape shifter with me He was close to
crying too. The shape shifter roared defiantly at Juee Muthisu
and we began to back away.
Slowly, thoughtfully, but with a cloud of dust nonetheless, we backed away and followed faint horse trails away from where T'ash sank in the west. The sacred hills dropped behind us and I began squirming, not because I was still in the shape shifter, but because I was completely, thoroughly lost. Two firsts in my life in a matter of hours was almost too much for me. Johnny seemed to notice me for the first time. "Nuahuh." I ducked my head in shame. The little tears stopped trembling down my face. "Shaumchu geegoot?" he asked.
"Neuie," I told him. "I am called Little Neuie."
The shape shifter stopped and he studied me for a moment, sighing in exasperation. "It is late. I must work tomorrow, maybe two days. Can you stay with me?" He glanced back to where the sacred hills might have been. He sighed again and shook his head.
"Sure," I told him. After I had said the words I realized they were true. I grinned. Then, in looking past his ear I saw a dark shape rising in the sky. "Nuahuh!"
His mouth dropped open as he turned to look. "A spotted eagle!"
He turned back to me and said, "You shall bring me luck, Neuie. You shall lift my spirit to the heavens above when all is lost for me below." He spoke in the prophet's hush and I ducked my head to keep my pride from showing.
I had been amazed at the speed attained by the
shape shifter before, but when the road turned black and smooth
there was so much speed that my shoulders grew weak against the
thing that pressed behind me. The wind tore at my face, and
when I leaned into it my lips began blubbering back and forth over
my gums. Without even knowing it I began singing the song, God
is my Elder Brother. Johnny joined in delightedly and the
shape shifter snarled louder than ever as if it wanted to join in
In many places the shape shifter left the ground and sailed with buck-toothed giddiness over the top of a hill. "Nuahuh!" we cried. "Nuahuh!"
Suddenly another shape shifter lunged at us. I screamed and shrank back into my seat. Johnny laughed at me and our shape shifter snarled with him. "You have much to learn," said Johnny when he could speak again.
"We have a, --" he fumbled for a word, then shrugged and continued. "We have a "covenant" with them. If they will stay on that side, we will stay on this side and both of us can go as fast as we want to."
It was a good covenant. I nodded and leaned forward, eager to see the next shape shifter lunge at us. Darkness settled in around us and behind us, but in front of us little patches of light flickered back and forth so that most of the time we could see right in front of us quite well.
The shape shifter snarled on and I drifted off to sleep. How can one drift off to sleep during one's first trip in a shape shifter? Yet I did. I, even Neuie, went sound to sleep with only racing dreams flitting through my head.
We looked for some dogs to shoot but all of them were too little to keep the bullets so we decided we didn't want to waste the shells. That was when I came up with the idea of using a bucket of water. Actually I used two buckets and yes, the water did come from Sitting-By-The-Well-Well.