The Artifact (Book 2, Time Series)

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Chapter Thirty-Two: Andy and Chocolate Chip Cookies

July 2023
Morgan’s Home
Richmond City, Virginia

}}}-----> WAHYA <-----{{{

Andy picks the red colored crayon from his crayon box for Wahya to see.

“Crayon?” Wahya asks, repeating the word the boy had just used.

“Yeah, crayon! Red is my favorite color. It matches my hair, see!?” Andy holds the stubby wax crayon up to his bright red, though slightly more orange-colored locks. “And the fastest cars are always red, and it’s just really, really cool!”

Kneeling at the coffee table, Andy holds the box out for Wahya to choose a crayon from. He chooses Sky Blue. Grabbing his coloring book, Andy flips through the first few pages, showing Wahya what he’s already colored. Being an avid animal-lover, Andy especially likes coloring in this book which features several animal pictures of animals in the wild and domesticated.

“Do they have crayons where you’re from? If not, maybe you can take some home with you. Kids would love ’em!”

Wahya smiles at the boy, who he’s figured out is Morgan’s nephew, not only because he recognized Jessica as her sister from the photos on the bookshelves, but because the boy is a talker, just like his aunt - which means he talks a lot and with much positive enthusiasm, even though he fully knows Wahya doesn’t understand his language. So, Wahya, in turn, decides to go with it and converse with Andy in Tsalagi - both of them acting as though they can understand one another completely. In a way they do, as in reality, their minds float to similar topics and find mutual understandings of the simple things they’re doing, seeing, and feeling.

“Let me guess, your favorite color is red,” Wahya surmises aloud. “You’ve colored almost everything red! And that red crayon you’ve got there is whittled down pretty small compared to the rest!”

Pointing to one particular page he’d already colored, Andy explains, “This is a mommy dog and her baby. Baby dogs are called puppies. Do you have a dog?! I want one, but my mom says we can’t have one right now because I’m not ’sponsible enough yet.”

Going through the coloring book with Andy, Wahya isn’t completely unfamiliar with the concept of drawing as art, having drawn charcoal pictures on bark and rocks, mostly as a child. He does know some people who really enjoy it though, making intricate designs and pictures on everything from rock walls, pottery, and other objects. He simply prefers to stick with perfecting the art of bow and arrow-making - a craft he’s extremely talented in.

After learning the correct way to hold the crayon, Wahya helps Andy color a picture of a bird on a tree branch, which in the end, turned out mostly an unnatural combination of red and blue. Wahya drew the line at the legs and beak, ensuring, through much laughter, that they were colored a more realistic brown, and the leaves green. Next, Andy brings out his favorite book at the moment, and the two sit together on the couch so that the first-grader can ‘teach’ Wahya how to read. The book, a graphic novel, features a little gray mouse on the front cover with the symbols Wahya knows represent different words, enlarged, and colored in bold red.

Andy points to each word as he carefully reads. In a slightly higher voice, he mimics the mouse, pointing to the black words in the thought bubble emanating from the tiny animal’s mouth, “‘That’s me!’”

The book, which tells the story primarily through pictures, interests Wahya greatly being in paper form, and though he doesn’t know exactly what the words say, he gets the idea. Animal stories had always been a big part of Wahya’s life, as his people use oral traditions of such stories to educate and remember history. Jistu the rabbit trickster, and even Grandmother Spider who brought weaving and sunlight to the people are just a couple stories he thinks of now that teach life lessons and the ways of the world. Some stories are serious and deeply regarded, while others are humorous, and soon Wahya finds that this particular story falls into the latter category. Finding himself able to relate to the mouse who seems to be at odds with getting himself dressed in people clothes - or at least the clothes of Morgan’s people, Wahya laughs heartily.

Wahya listens to Andy’s pronunciation as the boy points to the words, practicing his reading on the page in which the mouse puts on a recognizable confining garment.

“Underpants,” Wahya repeats.

“Hey, you said ‘underpants!’” Any calls out with a smile, and they both laugh again, Wahya getting the gist that underpants are synonymous with breechcloths.

Andy continues the story in which by the end, the mouse discards the clothes he had worked so hard to put on throughout the rest of the book. Wahya determines the moral of the story is that you shouldn’t try to be something you’re not, and he looks down at the white shirt and blue jeans he’s wearing now, thinking that no matter what clothes he must wear to fit in here, he will always be Adatlisvi Wahya of the Tsalagi.

Looking down at the small boy, he says, “A mouse is always a mouse no matter what he wears, and you will always be Andy no matter what you try to be. You must be proud to be you.”

Andy nods his head as though considering Wahya’s remarks, unrecognizable words, and all. Perhaps it was Wahya’s tone and the fact that his mother always tells him something similar after reading the story with him at home. Either way, he gets it.

At that moment Morgan pops her head in the room, and both of them beam at her. Andy excitedly jumps up exclaiming about all the things they’ve been up to and drags her over to the couch to sit next to him so he can show her their coloring of the bird.

“Very nicely done!” Morgan responds with enthusiasm, planting a kiss on top of his head, letting him know that she’s proud of his work.

Wahya watches their interaction silently and is suddenly surprised when Andy tries to reiterate the Cherokee word for ‘bird’ that Wahya had taught him while they were coloring. “Wahya says that it’s a sis... sis-qu...?”

Looking at Wahya for help, the brave sits forward on the couch pronouncing the word carefully for him again, “Tsisqua.”

“That’s it! Tsisqua! Tsisqua! See, Aunt Morgan, I’m learning some of his words and he’s learned ‘underpants!’”

“Oh!? That’s...great!” Morgan shakes her head and both adults listen as Andy continues his explanation of the coloring. At the end of his monologue, Morgan looks up at the clock hanging on the wall, “We’re going to bake cookies soon. Why don’t you go use the bathroom and wash your hands real good so you’ll be ready, okay?”

He responds by jumping up from between Wahya and Morgan on the couch and exits the room. Morgan turns towards Wahya, and as though exhausted by the youth’s energy, laughs as she asks, “You okay?”

Having had a good time playing with the boy, Wahya nods smiling, and answers honestly in Cherokee, understanding that Morgan wants to know if Andy has been a bother, “Yes, Andy is a nice boy. He’s no bother! I’ve had fun with him.”

He lightly takes her hand in both of his, and her lighthearted smile turns into something softer, pulling at his feelings for her again. Scooting to the edge of the cushion, Wahya points to the coloring book, still open to the page with the bird. Using gestures as he talks, he tells her, “When Andy showed you the picture, you gave him a kiss right here, on top of his head. You know I worked just as hard on it, even making sure Andy didn’t color everything in red. Don’t I get anything for my work, too?!”

With a mischievous smile, he juts the side of his face out, pointing to his cheek, hoping she understands that he’s asking for a kiss, as well. Morgan seems perplexed at first, then her eyes go wide, and she giggles, “Ohhhh! You think you deserve a kiss, huh? Let me look at that coloring again!”

She pulls the book into her lap, pretending to examine the boldly colored page carefully, teasingly making faces as though she were an art critic. Just when Wahya begins to wonder if she’s going to take him up on the offer and give his cheek a peck, Morgan puts the book down and says, “This fantastic piece of art definitely warrants a kiss!”

He allows her to turn his face towards hers before she leans in and presses her lips firmly against his. Wahya, ecstatic that she not only took his hint, but went for his lips versus the cheek he’d offered, deepens the kiss slowly, sliding his hand up her arm before breaking away slowly upon hearing Andy jogging back down the hall. Morgan’s smile speaks volumes, and he quietly whispers to her, “I think I will color you countless pictures just for the reward.”

~~~

In the kitchen, Wahya wonders just what they’re making that has Andy so excited - all he knows is that they’re called ‘cookies,’ and are supposed to be delicious. He remembers helping his mother and grandmother with cooking when he was a little boy, and then when he got older that he did more stealing of ingredients for snacks than helping, much to the women’s frustration.

Baking with Morgan and Andy isn’t much different, besides the fact that the ingredients come mostly prepackaged and ready to use, versus having to grind meal into powder and such. While Wahya is intrigued by items like butter and the unusual-looking eggs - for chickens came to the Americas with the Europeans - it’s the tiny brown objects Morgan pours into the bowl of dough they’ve begun to mix that gets Andy excited.

“Can I eat a couple, Aunt Morgan?! Please!” Andy pleads, holding a few in the palm of his hand.

“Definitely! But you have to share with Wahya, too.”

Wahya looks suspiciously at the tiny cone-shaped object with a minute curl at the tip and teases the youth as he scrunches up his face to show disgust, “It doesn’t look very good - kinda like bits of dry, hard mud.”

Morgan sees his skepticism and smirks as she rubs her stomach to show how good they are, “Don’t worry, you’ll like it!”

“I love ’em!” Andy proclaims in response.

Wahya gives Andy another suspicious look, continuing to tease the boy, sure that the bits probably don’t taste bad at all. Morgan hands Andy a couple more, then sidles up next to Wahya, giving him a knowing look as she lightly elbows him simply uttering the word she’d taught him last night, “Chocolate.”

Wahya repeats the familiar-sounding word in his head, taking a moment for it to sink in. When realization dawns that it was chocolate ice cream he’d enjoyed, in more than one way, with her last night, his own smirk grows and he raises his eyebrows suggestively at Morgan, who lets out a loud giggle in return.

Finally, he pops the tiny chocolate chip in his mouth, letting it melt on his tongue. He nods appreciatively in approval at Andy who was dying to know if his new friend likes chocolate chips nearly as much as he does.

Nodding his head, he exaggerates the sound of deliciousness, “Mmmm!” Then notes, “It is good! Way too small, but very good!”

Without warning, he quickly reaches over to steal the bag of chocolate chips out of Morgan’s hand, holding it high above his head, laughing at the other two who both look surprised at his bold move. His two baking-mates are in arms, laughing and shouting about his greedy move. Andy unsuccessfully tries to jump up to reach the delectable chips, trying to reason with Wahya to give them back, “Hey, you can’t eat them all! They’ll give you a stomachache!”

“That’s right, tell him Andy!” Morgan exclaims in return, pretending to sound a bit pouty. “He should share, huh?!”

“Yeah, you’re supposed to share with your friends. And we’re BEST friends now!” Andy tries, even though Wahya doesn’t understand. But the brave laughs, nonetheless, as Morgan and Andy plead with all smiles for him to return the chocolate.

“Tickle him, on my count!” Morgan looks at Andy conspiratorially. “One, tw...”

But Andy doesn’t wait and reaches up to tickle Wahya’s belly before Morgan gets any further, eliciting a surprised chuckle from the much bigger man. “Oh! Ha! You think you’re sneaky little guy, huh?!”

But his laughter soon turns to a yelp as Morgan stabs her fingers into his upper ribs, beneath the arm still raised high above his head, just hard enough to dig into the ticklish area she learned about last night at the kitchen table. As soon as he reflexively curls under, reflexively bucking at her more serious and strategic tickling, Morgan grabs the bag of chocolate chips out of his grasp, turning with the aim of dashing away as quickly as possible.

But all possibilities of making a clean getaway are erased as Wahya quickly recovers, scooping Morgan up from behind, preventing her escape, while being careful not to hurt Andy in the process.

“Not so fast Walela!” He laughs heartily as he easily pulls her weight.

Morgan let’s out a loud shriek and begins to laugh uncontrollably, not expecting such a quick retaliation. Wahya deftly wraps his arms around her middle, securely holding her back tight against his solid body, finding that her warmth and presence in his arms sends ebbs of excitement through him. To his pleasure, Morgan doesn’t pull away, despite her weak attempts to keep him at bay. Sucking in air between bursts of laughter, she manages to jut her arm out far enough so that Wahya can’t reach the chocolate.

“Andy! Grab the bag! Here!”

Andy hurriedly grabs the bag from his aunt, hugging it tight to his chest, jumping up and down, “I got it! They’re mine now! Whooo-hooo!”

As Andy celebrates his victory, dancing around the kitchen, Morgan ends her halfhearted struggle for escape, giggles rippling through her small frame, and she relaxes backward into Wahya, suddenly creating even more pleasurable sensations in his body and mind. In turn, Wahya lowers his head, momentarily nuzzling her neck as he squeezes her slightly around her middle, as she returns his affection by closing her fingers over his, if only for a moment before they have to get back to the cookie dough.

}}}-----> * <-----{{{

Book Reference: Smith, J. (2009). “Little Mouse Gets Ready.” RAW Junior, LLC. New York, NY. Retrieved from www.toon-books.com.
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