General Fiction posted August 27, 2020 Chapters:  ...9 10 -11- 12... 

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There is a path under the falls

A chapter in the book Traffic


by Liz O'Neill

Liz & Linda rescued 5 Native American teens from a trafficking operation. Then one of the girls rescued 5 more from a van. We are invited to be present for some of their healing ceremonies.

Though saddened as they walked farther from the ceremonial site, Liz felt extremely honored to have been witness to such an expression of love and respect for the Native culture. But the commemoration was only beginning.

The procession halted. There was inaudible murmuring down the line. Sage led the group, getting down on one knee, bowing her head and beginning to chant. " My Aunt Wise Fox and my cousin Sweet Juniper."

Star sang sadly of her two cousins, " My cousins Waving Leaf and Golden Blossom and now Cloud and the one no one remembers, One Who Laughs. I will remember her. We will all remember her."

Sky followed, " My cousin Cloud and my Grandmother One Who Listens."

Each knelt on one knee and after chanting of their relative who had gone missing, and possibly murdered, sprinkled the water outward. Turtle watched as the patterns of the droplets expanded, " My grandmother's sister, Blazing Log."

Dragonfly was the last of the van girls, " My cousin, Blue Stone." 

"My sister Sweet Piper," Strong Heart added, " And my sister's best friend, Dream Catcher."

Eyes of the Owl was next with her heart-aching chant, "My best friend Rabbit and her cousin Baby Eagle."

Spring Blossom may have had the most heartbreaking chant, "My sister Sunglow and her two best friends Cedar and Ash."

Liz and Linda glanced at each other, eyes filled with tears,  releasing a great sigh at the breath-taking event. They began to understand why Velvet Dove wanted to rescue the girls in the van when she chanted with a bitterly hurt tone, "My mother and my aunt, Full Heart and Laughing Wind."

Runs the Field finished the litany with, "My cousin White Doe, and one of my track partners, Leaping Hills." 

Kneeling, they all joined Runs the Field who was now on two knees. Chanting in unison, they scooped water, causing a loud wave. 

"Dear Spirit of the sacred waters, we release these souls and all who have been lost, to your purifying care. Watch over them wherever they are. And if possible, return them to us."

Liz thought, this trafficking has affected them all. There are so many we're not even hearing of. Even grandmothers, mothers. How horrible, how epidemic. We've only scratched the surface here. 

The drumming of the distant falls was a perfect background for the chanting to the spirit of the tumbling dancing waters. The falls resounding, they slowly processed toward them. 

Liz told Linda, "I've read about people being able to walk on a trail behind waterfalls. The lower softer rock near the cave is eroded and washed out over hundreds of years. So, people can walk under it."

"But won't we get soaked? I mean it's okay if we do, but I hope it doesn't knock us down." 

Liz reassured Linda, "I read that the upper rock is solid and much harder so it will hold the water flow farther out and away from us." 

They could walk along the rim of the rock beneath the falls without getting soaked. They did need to prepare for the mist, the water was crashing to the bottom with thunderous swirling power. As the deafening roar increased so did their anxiety which was replaced with exhilaration.  

Lanterns carried by five of the teens, before disappearing, glowed through the golden threads of water illuminating nearby walls. 

"Whoa, you were right. We're really still dry." As they entered the path under the falls, the strange sensation of the mist spraying their faces tickled them. This part of their mystified journey was thrilling. 

Vibrations surrounding them, in the beginning, helped them discern they were walking away from the source of the waterfall above them. As quiet filled the air their bodies no longer shook. 

Lanterns were extinguished when light streamed in. The stunted tunnel brought them outside to a very narrow trail with a sparkling river flowing far below. Bright sunlight, dimmed by the canopy of moss-covered trees, caused minimal discomfort. 

Pausing to thank the Creator and the Earth Mother, some glanced farther up the well-trod muddy path.  They realized this outdoors-experience would be short-lived. They would soon find themselves returning to darkness lighted only by their lanterns.

Some sought out a dry place to sit before entering the next cave. Others went searching for berries along the path which led down toward the whispering river. 

They soon returned with hats full of tart blackberries and juicy raspberries. Before savoring this treat, each slowly painstakingly lowered herself to praise the beautiful earthen intermission. 

Having had their fill, they raised their heads to take in the surroundings. Woven through the branches were Grandmother Moon resting next to Grandfather Sun. Lovingly held by both, they felt invited to recline fully. They were soon asleep. Liz and Linda joined them.

They woke refreshed. Some began telling about their dreams. Liz had read and begun to record the animals who visit her in our dreams. Sky was the first to speak. She and Star had yet to tell any of their story. All were attentive to her compelling tone.

"Brother Badger appeared to me in my dream as he has several times before. It was his medicine that has helped both Star and me endure this whole nightmare. His persistence was with me when I made it so difficult for them to catch me." 

"I tangled away from the Gruff's grasp and got such a head start her shouting distracted Big Nose. That gave the signal to Star to duck down and out of his hold on her." Tearing up, she laughed, "It was funny. Even though, here we are. But Brother Badger was there too. I could sense him."  

Because Sky and Star were both seated on the ground in their circle, the others did not see the humor. They felt only sadness and anger. 

Star admitted, "They'd already taken our shoes, so we were dragged barefoot, by our hair over the cobbled surface. Like Dragonfly, we had made our capture more problematic. It felt so good to get them in the water. Our feet are pretty chopped up. 

"Spring Blossom shared one of her questions, "I wondered how I was ever able to concoct such a clever plan of the trickery we pulled off to elude our captors. How they chased Runs the Field up the hill." 

"I just received my answer from Coyote who appeared in my dream. His medicine had been with me all along."

Breathing grateful sighs of relief, everyone bowed her head and thanked Coyote the Trickster and Deer for the grace, balance, and swiftness of feet for Runs the Field's flawless performance.

Dragonfly, who'd been so self-absorbed before all of this perilous undertaking, demonstrated a change of heart, "Remember, that none of this would have been possible without Liz and Linda's courage. Surely the medicine of both Turkey and Weasel was with them." 

Her comments of how Turkey must have been hovering over them for their sacrifice and spirit of giving brought cheers of agreement. Wide-smiled she said, I bet Weasel helped them find talents they never knew they had."

Both ladies, blushing, shook their heads as they considered all they had accomplished.

Grandfather Sun had moved to a 45-degree angle, it was time to advance to the next stage. Though the teaser of daylight had healed them and given them further strength a mood of dread hung in the air. Resuming unpleasantness is always more difficult after a beautiful respite.  

In the midst of the weary sighs, Spring Blossom attempted to buoy up their spirits. Come now, you know this river is where we get our drinking water. And it runs close to the Rez so there shouldn't be too much length of cave left." 

She made prayer to Wolf the Pathfinder, "Lead us through the rest of this cave and out to the light."

Five lanterns were wearily reignited. They paused at the point of entry, taking at least one deep breath. Liz and Linda took their routine three. The first path encountered was narrow, expanding to a spacious cavern which appeared to have no exit. 

Several fired many questions at Spring Blossom, the cave leader. 

"What now?"
"Should we go back the way we came, back outside, in through the short tunnel leading to the waterfall." 

"Then what?" 

Liz had to be honest with herself. The prospect of revisiting those falls does not seem as glorious to me as the initial experience.

Turtle said, "Remember how Grandfather Sun was tiring and nearing his resting position? That means nighttime is upon us. Shouldn't we rest for the return ramble?" 

Dragonfly blurted, "I can't help but wonder if Coyote hasn't muddled with Wolf's wisdom to find us safe passage."



Character list of the women who rescued the girls from the house of the women who rescued the girls from the house, one Liz's best friends

**Van girls of the teens in the van, friends with Turtle and Dragonfly, announces she is called to be a Medicine Woman of the teens in the van, friends with Star, lost friend Cloud of the teens in the van, friends with Sky, her pack had the van girls' shoes, lost friend Cloud of the teens in the van, friends with Sage and Dragonfly, was frightened when Velvet Dove came scratching at the van window of the teens in the van, friends with Sage and Turtle, poor body image, played detective while tied up in the van

**House girls

Strong Heart....kicked at window to get iron grate off, her sister Sweet Piper, was earlier abducted

Sweet Piper .....Strong Heart's sister, abducted earlier, in a coma

Eyes of the Owl....made sure the plan of deception was solid, got into closet for packs with shoes, saw her best friend Rabbit's pack, made sure everyone from the house had shoes

Spring Blossom......first at the house window, helped remove the window block. cave leader

Velvet Dove.....Planned the deception, rescued the girls from the van....made sure the van girls had their shoes and packs, her pack had the house shoes in it, had a very reassuring voice

Runs the Field....ran up the hill for the deception

Gruff.... the name Dragonfly gave the woman driver who she figured smoked

Big Nose...the rider in the van helping Gruff

Badger Medicine...helps the person find self-confidence and the right amount of aggression

Coyote Medicine...considered the Trickster

Deer grace of movement

Turkey Medicine...awareness, purpose, achievement

Weasel Medicine...stealth, ingenuity, and strength

Wolf Medicine...pathfinder, teacher, guide

I'd like to acknowledge MKFlood once again for their perfect picture. This is one section of many adventures experienced by Liz & Linda walking through fog and haze, away from their stranded car toward civilization and a garage. They are in Montana close to the Crow Nation Reservation. There is an epidemic of cases of Native American women of all ages and teens being abducted, missing or murdered.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by MKFlood at

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