General Fiction posted March 20, 2018


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The ancestral journey of a stranger on Sacred Land

A Knock on the Door

by Liz O'Neill

There was a knock on the door. I'd never seen this person before and yet there was something familiar in her dark eyes. The light almost extinguished and full of fire. She didn't even give me time to present myself with my learned niceties toward strangers. We were brought up to address people as Mr, Mrs, and Miss, and to always make them feel welcome. The title Ms, wasn't in our vocabulary, as yet.
I knew I had been right when she began speaking or preaching or ranting, making fists, not in a threatening manner but more in desperation. Her voice shook. The pain and grieving in her voice affected me as did Buffy Ste. Marie whenever I would listen to her songs of the betrayal of the white man.

This woman's features resembled those of my ancestors. Without knowing anything about me she began a history all too familiar to me, of the Native American in this area. She claimed that my house and what I claimed as my property was on stolen land and it should be desecrated no longer and that I had no place here or right to be on this hallowed ground.

I let her go on at length and listened with my heart, open and with a hope that I might bring her reassurance and healing of her deep wounds. She quieted, possibly sensing something different about me than those she had previously accosted with the same cry. The air quieted. I could hear the leaves rustling, whispering through the wind's song and the branches leaning down as if to embrace the pain sense of resignation.

Then I spoke softly as she actually listened. I invited her to the timeworn bench at the glass-topped picnic table. I humbly admitted to her that I was slowly becoming more aware of just what she had been addressing. I explained how I had slowly begun noticing more and more exciting stone formations on my property and that of adjacent properties all bordered by magnificent stone walls where there are seeming to the untrained eye, very randomly placed quartz stones, every 15 feet.

I urged her to take a short tour with me. I could see that her whole expression had changed. The light in her eyes had changed. She was curious and a bit excited. I tempted her to relish in the serpent and turtle formations and mounds where the stones are piled just high enough in the center to create the shape of a turtle with longer stones placed appropriately for the feet and a quartz stone singling out the head.

After trudging along the stonewalls, over broken branches of every kind of hardwood we crossed the dirt road and found ourselves getting our feet a little damp from the very tiny stream. It was mostly mud at this point. As we mucked our way a little further, I lowered my voice to a respectful whisper.

We were at the cairn field where they had buried their dead. The living were fleeing the Europeans as they tried to make their way toward Canada. Being in such a hurry to escape, they only had time to do a mass burial but with great ritual and symbolism.We both paused in silence honoring the souls in our midst. We spent quite a long period of time exploring the many cairns. She seemed very moved by my show of reverence.

Our mood had turned so solemn I was glad I'd saved the best for last. I directed her to my raised table rock which is shaped like a bird on both sides with a thunderbird faintly carved on the flat surface.And even the top is bird-shaped, evident with snow covering it. There was no snow at this time of year, so I could only describe my bemusement when I had recently discovered that. And bending low on one knee I pointed out to her, the carving of the catamount face on a medium sized brownish stone and the large white quartz winged serpent underneath the rock.

I closed our encounter by telling her, "Yes, I am becoming more aware and humbled to be gifted with this knowledge. I feel called by the Great Spirit to be the custodial caretaker of this Sacred Land.

Her dark eyes became cloudy with tears. She was silent. She appeared unable to speak. She slowly backed away. Pensive. She bowed slightly and slowly and reverently placed her hand to her forehead, a sign of respect. Turned, looked over at my raised table rock and walked back down my dirt, rutted driveway. The same driveway she had come up before. I returned to finish my dishes and to gaze out my kitchen window at my favorite turtle stone formation. There was a knock on the door.




Sentence writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story that starts with this sentence: There was a knock on the door.
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