Clouds rumbled from the far northeast side of our hogan, red sand gently picked up with the wind, and a cool breeze ran in from opening the door. “Close the door, the heat needs to stay inside,” Grandma said as she sat in front of her loom. Her geometric pattern repeated along the edge of the rug as she continued to add more layers. Grandpa was working on his crossword puzzle at the kitchen table. I checked the fire stove, making sure the heat was still flowing throughout the room.
Looking out from the window towards the dark clouds, I noticed car lights coming from a distance. It could have been anyone; I was wishing it might be Aunty Theo. She always smelled like roses and peaches; it was the best smell I got from her. I told Grandma that someone was coming, she told me to stay inside if they pulled up. For some reason she was scared for me to see visitors outside the hogan because she had a bad experience as a little girl. I listened to her and, as the car turned towards the hogan, I hid. I covered myself under the blankets, I tried my best to see who it might be. Three knocks.
Grandpa walked towards the door. It was Aunty Theo. “Grandma, it’s your daughter from the powwow world,” Grandpa said. She walked in and hurried to close the door behind her. Grandpa and I hugged her.
“Aunty Theo,” I smiled.
“Geez lady, you have grown so much,” she said.
“I missed you so much; I am eleven now.”
She followed me around the hogan stove, and noticed Grandma’s rug. Her eyes glanced at it and smiled like she knew what Grandma was going to make. We made our way to the table; Grandpa’s crossword puzzle book was still open. Aunty Theo glanced and smiled.
“How long are you staying Aunty?”
“Well, I plan to spend the night here and leave the next morning, if that’s alright with your grandparents?”
“It should be, right Grandpa and Grandma?”
We both looked over and Grandpa just nodded his head up and down, and Grandma, she gave her yes express face. I was happy that she was spending the night with us; we hadn’t seen Aunty Theo in weeks. She told me she needed help to settle in. I looked over to see Grandpa’s puzzle, he only found two more words. I glanced outside of the door and noticed the dark clouds above us.
I wanted to go outside and help Aunty with her last bag; a loud sound of thunder made its announcement. “Squashie, get away from the door, the thunder is going to get you!” Grandma’s aggressive voice said to me. I freaked out. I sat at the kitchen table with Grandpa and kept looking out towards the window. It was six in the evening as well. Aunty Theo, who sat on the right side of the table from me, pulled up a zip horse jewelry bag from her tote bag. She started sharing photos of where she had traveled for powwow.
“Here is a photo of some of the jingle dancers I met as we hopped from powwow to powwow.” I looked at the pictures and noticed she was happy. Grandma didn’t say a word to us; I got worried.
“Grandma, are you okay? Aunty Theo has plenty of pictures.”
“Honey, I will get my chance to look over them.” Without noticing, the sky lit up again and loud thunder struck again. Sitting between Grandpa and Aunty Theo, I ran my fingers over the photos until I saw one of Aunty Theo and my dad.
“Sorry missy, that photo isn’t for you”
“But it’s you and my dad at a young age. Have you seen my dad?”
“No, I haven’t seen him. Last I heard, he was in New Mexico, running.”
“Hey!” Grandpa said.
Not sure why my family didn’t talk much about my dad. I know my mom loved him before she passed away. Looking again at the picture, I wished I knew where my dad was. He abandoned me with my grandparents because he had business to take care. He never returned. Right before I could look at more photos, Grandpa stopped Aunty Theo.
“Hey little lady, start getting ready for bed,” Grandpa said.
I didn’t budge. Grandma was at her loom again, and she looked like she didn’t want to lose focus. I grabbed my bag from under the bed and found my pj’s. Grandpa and Aunty Theo talked at the table. It started to rain lightly, clouds were still dark, and I heard the rumbling in the sky. I am brave. Grandpa one day told the Holy People to watch over me and guide me every day. He also put around my neck my first arrowhead. No one could touch it but me and Grandpa and Grandma. I hugged Grandpa and Aunty Theo before I headed to Grandma for one; I then headed to bed.
Before I laid in my bed, I checked the fire stove. It was hot, and the water above was boiling a little. Loud thunder appeared again as I walked towards my bed. I finally laid down; my eyes closed slowly. The next morning, Grandma was saying a little prayer. Grandpa was adding more wood to the stove for Aunty Theo, who was making breakfast. It smelled good, and I couldn’t wait to take a bite. The sun was shining; I got out of bed, grabbed some clothes, and changed. I washed my face, splashed water in my hair, brushed my teeth. I sat next to Grandpa again.
“Good Morning Grandpa.”
“Good morning granddaughter.”
Suddenly a vehicle drove next to the hogan and it was social service. Aunty told me that she came because Dad isn’t coming to get me, and I will be staying with Grandma and Grandpa for now.
Shantel Chee is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.