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Historical Fiction Drama People of Color

Peter gazed upwards at the golden maiden in front of Pembroke Arch. It was habitual. He dare not set his eyes on the girl's ascent into his horse drawn carriage on the way to her class. Hooves clop along the bright sunny yellow leafed path until they halt for the girl's exit. The autumn trees of red hold Peter's attention as the youth strolls off toward the building of grey stones. He wonders what spirits Sarah will be in. As he turns the corner he spots Sarah down the road. Slouched over a cement pillar in front of the house her brothers had built for her, Sarah looks at the ground. The house was all that Sarah Dilworth had received as a legacy. Peter thought of how they disowned her. When Sarah became his wife, they wanted no part of the blackness of his Blackfoot Indian heritage and the deep tan of his skin. With a body now quite white and heavy to match her heart, Sarah would stand out in front with nothing but fields and trees surrounding her to wait for Peter. A soft "Greetings my dear" reached Sarah's ear, raised her head up and warmed her frosted frozen heart. Eyes together at last but for a moment. From out of the house come two caucasian looking children. A tiny red headed daughter with braids and a tall dark haired son . They chant a repeated chorus "Daddy!" and run toward Peter. Peter reaches down and his light brown hand grabs hold of browner sweet tobacco of cedar odor. He hands it to his son Earl who reaches him first. Earl smiles, pushes back his hair and inhales it. "What about me?" cries Eva, pulling on one of her long braids with a stomp of the foot. "Who?" answers Peter looking around and pretending not to have a gift for Eva. Earl laughs out loud and long in a high pitch. Eva does not care about her gift. She thinks that Earl always gets what's better. So Eva kicks his shin hard. Earl's foot swiftly raises back and he grabs his shin, letting go of the gift and hopping around. Eva picks up the tobacco singing "sweet tobacco". Eva runs back into the house and upstairs to her bedroom. She puts a bit of tabacco in her desk drawer and then some under her pillow. "Eva" calls Sarah from the bottom step. "Yes" answers Eva. "Bring back your brother's tabacco" exclaims Sarah from the second step. Silence echoes and Sarah begins to catch her breath then collapses to the ground.

"It's smallpox" the doctor tells them all as he exits Peter and Sarah's room. Sarah and Peter both die soon after this from the disease of smallpox.

Teenage Earl continues to live in the house that Sarah Dilworth's brothers built for her. Eva is sent to live on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. Eva sits on the floor and pulls on one braid most of the time with thoughts of her bedroom and the sweet odored tobacco under the pillow. Members of her father's family pass by and remark about shiny red hair. Then they chuckle and say other things about her. There's no word in their language for a human that is only part Blackfoot. So the only terms they use for her are the words used to describe a fragmented human. One that is not complete or whole so Eva feels this way. The only thing that holds her together is a hope to return home. The Indians wonder why Eva sits and stares into space.

A German Shepherd wanders onto the reservation one day and sits by Eva. "Are you from the Kamanches?" Eva asks it. She now pets the dog with one hand and pulls her pigtail with the other as she sits. Whenever a person passes by Eva, the dog gets nippy and Eva finds amusement. Finally one of Peter's cousins stops to chat with Eva. As he turns to leave, the dog snaps and catches a piece of his colorful Indian clothes. "Kamanche don't bite! " laughs Eva in delight. "This girl is dangerous we must send her back" Peter's cousin reports to the tribe. So Eva and Kamanche go to live with Earl.

Earl stands outside by the cement pillar of the home that his uncles built. He will soon be eighteen and wonders if he'll be able to handle Eva and Kamanche. Spotting braids that match the red leaves in the distance, Earl runs to meet his sister's carriage. "Eva" he calls as Kamanche jumps out and runs toward him. Earl feels a snap at the cuff of his wrist as Kamanche leaps by. Eva giggles under her breath. She pauses her laughter for a quick and semi serious "Kamanche don't bite!" then bursts out "hahaha". Earl who has been knocked onto the ground now by Kamanche looks up worryingly as Eva exits the carriage. "Where's my tobacco?" yells Eva running into the house and upstairs to her room. As she lifts her pillow the sweet cedar like aroma fills the air. Eva flops onto her bed weeping uncontrollably. Breathing in the sweetness of her home and the tabacco and out the sobs of salty tears. Earl can hear her as he passes by her room, dropping her bag there in escape from Kamanche. After a few nips at Earl, Kamanche scratches on the door and Eva lets him in to jump onto her bed. Now Eva begins to think about having the house all to herself. "Dinner's ready Eva!" Earl announces and Eva goes downstairs to see fried chicken, corn and lima beans on the table. It's the first time since her parent's death that Eva had seen this familiar food that her mother used to make. She bit into the crisp leg, savored it and then gobbled the rest without a word. Every day, Earl prepares his mother's cuisine for Eva. Even when starts to court Bea, a woman on his mail delivery route. Bea's parents had escaped slavery. So Earl would discuss issues of prejudiced society with her and proclaim his blackness not by skin color but through his Blackfoot Indian heritage. Then they'd share a look that Earl had seen his parents give to one another when his father arrived home from his carriage drive at the Bryn Mawr College.

On the day that Eva turns eighteen, she announces to Earl and his beautiful new wife "I want this house. You two should go find your own. Earl's job at the post office will pay for yours." So Eva and Earl right away decide to settle this in Orphan's Court. Earl arrives early in his best suit and sits in the lobby. Three woman are also there and none of them can take their eyes off of Earl. Eva rushes in at the last moment. Just then the judge, a huge and heavy man with a resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock enters. Kamanche runs in after Eva with the carriage driver close behind and jumps past the judge, nipping his sleeve.

"Kamanche don't bite!" exclaims Eva as the carriage driver grabs Kamanche to exit and apologizes to the judge. "What is that dog doing in my court?" the judge sternly calls out to Eva. Eva is frozen still. Her mouth unable to move. Peter and Eva's case is first. When the judge hears how Peter cared for his sister Eva, he awards Earl the house. Then he follows up with a speach directed to Eva. "This man did for you what a parent should do. He provided for you in all aspects. You can never repay this and should be thankful".

Eva and Peter spoke to each other even less after this. Eva still wanted the house. One day she, like her brother met someone whose family had escaped slavery. Eva was on his mail delivery route, just like Bea had been on Earl's. Eva too proclaimed her blackness not due to skin color but through the Blackfoot Indian heritage. Henry and Eva would share a gaze out by the cement pillar when the mail was delivered. One day Eva and Kamanche waited for Henry by the pillar. Henry knew that Eva coveted the house that she stood in front of. They capture eyes and Henry's "I have a surprise for you" catches Eva off guard. It's as though time stops and they are now immersed in each other's eyes. She steps into his carriage with Kamanche and they ride seemingly above the clouds. When they stop, there is a beautiful brick ranch house. Henry's next words "I built this for you" send chills through Eva from head to toe. His "will you marry me?" completely engulfs her. Without even realizing her mouth is moving she answers "yes". Henry speaks nine languages but the language of love is his favorite so he is now overjoyed and grins the biggest smile his face has ever felt.

July 29, 2022 20:56

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4 comments

Gloria Dawn
05:00 Aug 11, 2022

I like this story, but find it a bit confusing. Is Kamanche miss-spelling of Commanche? I have many books by Roseanne Bittner whose stories feature several Native American tribes, and they are very enlightening of the problems the Indians had when white settlers immigrated into the west.

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Renee Gant
03:07 Aug 12, 2022

Thank you Gloria! I'm happy that you liked it and yes it is a misspelling of Commanche.

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Renee Gant
02:24 Aug 13, 2022

Gloria, it's the way my grandmother spelled her dog's name

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Renee Gant
23:09 Aug 10, 2022

This story's loosely based on my grandmother's experiences. She lived on a reservation as a child. Then she owned several dog's, one at a time named Kamanche. She did often need to say "don't bite" to each one of them and found this funny. I hope that someone will give feedback on my first story here. It would be greatly appreciated. Also I apologize for the typo where there should be a "he".

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