Saturday June 14th 2003
The pebble slipped perfectly over the smooth waters, and I grinned at Brady as he rolled his eyes.
"You're a chump, you know that?" He sighed, trying his best at skimming the rock over the ocean. Collin behind us was quickly trying to finish his homework by resting the fluttering sheets of papers on his thigh as he sat on a large log. I jogged over to him, seeing his messy handwriting in blue biro.
I cringed, and he glanced at me, narrowing his eyes. "I know! I know okay, Ms Aberwite is going to fail me…"
"You're good at presentations." I reasoned as I sat next to him. "And you always 'participate in group discussions'."
"Yeah, sometimes too much." Brady grinned as he came to sit next to me. Collin groaned as he rolled up the sheets of paper and dumped them in his backpack. We all had summer homework, and though it was only at the start of the summer, Mrs Aberwite always came by our houses to pick our projects up and give us new assignments. It was a drag, but that was what reservation schools were like. We spent very little time at school because normally we were helping our parents with their professions and learning things from the elders. Mrs Aberwite was currently brushing us up on our history- Collin's worst subject. He never paid attention to it because it was usually on a Friday last period, and he'd be thinking about the camping trips, fishing and campfires we were all going to over the weekend. We were all thinking about it, but Collin especially because his father usually got him to help a lot with preparation work.
But now it was summer- the best time of year according to me. The sun was behind a smothering of grey clouds today and the winds were calm after yesterday's storm- which happened because of the sudden change in weather fronts. I felt oddly tired today- as I did yesterday. It wasn't disabling me or anything. It was just annoying. I hadn't been able to sleep very well. I think I had dreams, or nightmares, which I always immediately forgot as soon as I woke up.
I let out a sigh as I crossed my arms.
"Hey, Sam's not missing anymore. Did you hear?" Brady asked beside me. I looked to him.
"I thought he ran away…"
"He did. But he's back now."
I let out a laugh. "Couldn't handle it I guess."
"He's crazy if you ask me. I bet he's on steroids or some type of drug because he's insanely buff now." Brady shook his head. "Mom doesn't really want me to go near him anymore."
"I guess we shouldn't." Collin said quietly. "Who knows what that guys up to? That sort of thing could get you kicked out of the tribe."
"As I said, he is crazy." Brady told us.
"Ancient Quil will have a good talk to him I suppose." I said as I stretched my arms out. I stood, letting out a yawn. "Mom's cooking meatloaf for dinner. You know she always makes too much, right?"
"I'll be there." Brady said as he brought up another stone, skipping off to the ocean.
"Yeah, okay." Collin huffed, trying to rub off blue ink marks on his fingers.
"Hey, you can always ask for more time." I told him. I knew he got wound up about these things. His parents would get hella angry at him for not doing well enough in school.
Collin snorted. "Like she'd give me more time." He glanced to me. "But, thanks anyway."
I gave him a sad smile before heading off home. It was getting colder, and I buried my hands in my jumper pockets, suddenly feeling something in the right one. I brought out the ripped off piece of my Twizzlers packet, and I wondered what I had done with it.
Then I remembered. Meeting Evelyn in the graveyard. She looked so small and pale on the bench, her black stocking covered legs swinging as she tried to keep warm. It had occurred to me that it didn't look as if she belonged there. She was dressed entirely in black with a fresh violet pinned to her coat. Her hair was long and the blondest blonde I had ever seen, slightly curling at the ends. Her eyes had been large and sad as they looked to me. They were a beautiful, murky sea green. Her face was almost like porcelain despite her rosy cheeks flushed from the cold.
I had been wondering through the graveyard to place some flowers by great grandpa's grave. Though he was never a chief, the time of his death was a time when the townspeople and the Indians weren't really getting along. It was after world war two- six years after- and they had been accusing us of being foreigners for not all of us helping in the war effort. My dad told me it was sort of hard getting work in the war because most factories didn't want Native Americans, and so we just sent fish to army bases. Some of the men weren't even allowed to go to the war because of tribe regulations. And so, when it came to my great grandpa's death, he decided he wanted his body in the Forks graveyard to tell them we were American, and we belonged in this soil just as much as anyone.
I had brought the yellow tulips with the money mom had given me at the Call's shop on the reservation. Mrs Call gave me a great discount because of the cause- as she always seemed to do. Every month me or my sister brought flowers here. I discarded the old roses she put there and instead put the vibrant tulips in their place, placing my hand on the gravestone. It was still quite shiny, the curving letters white against the stone.
Here lies Samson Clearwater the 3rd, a beloved man of the Quileute tribe, and a symbol for respect for the Native American community.
I knew there was a funeral because of all the cars lined up outside and the music playing from the church. People were outside with glasses of orange juice, sitting under the gazebo and talking. I saw tears shed, hugs given and prayers spoken. Most were gathered by two new graves, which I knew must have been cremated because the graves weren't very large. They didn't have headstones yet, but a small plaque was between them.
I heard some talking about the girl sitting all alone on the bench far away near the trees, and I walked with their voices wafting towards me on the wind.
"-Yes, she and her brother live with their grandparents now-"
"How terribly sad to lose both parents so suddenly…"
"You just don't think that orphans really exist in modern America, but they really do…"
I didn't really like them talking about her as if she was like a pet or something. I fumbled with the Twizzlers I had been chewing in my pocket, and approached her gently. She didn't smile at me though I smiled at her. Her eyes were very large and all consuming, just like the waves I thought they looked like. She spoke very softly, as if she was afraid of everything.
I sighed, placing the plastic back in my jumper. I remembered her being so cold too, but I'd like to think I had helped her by not talking about her parents.
I decided to trudge through the forest- just to mix things up a bit. I loved it in here. My dad and I spent days out here hunting rabbits and setting up snares, camping out under the stars. The smell of summer flowers, of rustic wood and the earth hit me as I continued to walk. The trees towered around me as I carefully made my way home. Mom always expected me to help with dinner because Leah was brooding all the time now. I guess Sam coming back was a good thing. Now she could get angry at him instead of me. Though, I expect she'd still get angry at me. Just because.
Whistling an old tribal tune Billy Black had taught us to sing at a meeting a few weeks back, I looked thoughtfully up at the sky, which was still its dull grey. I loved it when it was sunny. All the tribe kids would go down to First Beach and surf, play soccer and have a barbeque that our parents prepared. We'd listen to the legends around the fire that the elders told us, and trudge home under the stars. A week or so ago we had one, but ever since then the weather has gotten progressively worse. I pulled up my sleeves as I walked along the forest floor, wondering if the sun would make an appearance soon.
"Seth?" Came an abrupt, soft voice to my right. I stopped the whistling to turn and see Evelyn against a tree. Her face was flushed and her chest heaved. Had she been running? "I heard you whistling." She said, ducking her head and blushing. Slowly, a beam spread across my face, and when she glanced up at me, she smiled the tiniest bit. Her blonde hair fell around her shoulders in thick waves, and she wore normal clothes now- jeans and a grey long sleeved shirt.
"Hi. What're you doing on the reservation?" I asked her, approaching her carefully. She looked around her at the unfamiliar surroundings.
"Uh… I live with my grandparents near Lake Ozette now." She told me, her bright blue-green eyes capturing mine. "I was just walking… actually I've been walking for a while now."
"You're quite far from the lake…" We used to hike to Lake Ozette to meet the Makah's and fish there. It would usually take a few hours at the least. "When did you go out?"
She bit her bottom lip. "Before anyone got up."
My eyes widened. "It's afternoon now. Evelyn! They're probably worried sick about you."
She looked down to her feet. "I got lost, is all. I was trying to find something…"
I let out a sigh, but gave her a small smile. "Okay. I'll take you home, on one condition."
"You introduce me to your family." I grinned proudly, turning in the direction I knew Lake Ozette was in. She spluttered behind me, but began following me anyway. "What were you trying to find?" I asked her as we moved around a fallen tree. At first, she didn't answer me, so I looked around to her. Her face had grown ashen.
"It's alright. You don't have to tell me." I said hurriedly. She smiled a little in thanks, and we began making our way to her grandparents' house. She seemed to like me talking- that was lucky- and so I told her about hiking to Lake Ozette and the special way us Quileute's fish.
"At the start of every fishing season, Old Quil- one of the elders- does a special prayer and chant so that our ancestors bless the waters." I told her. She walked beside me with her small pale hands tied together in front of her.
"Does it work?" She asked, looking up at me with her large eyes.
"Yeah- I think so. But we know if the weather's bad then we shouldn't go out."
"Oh." She carefully bent down to pick up a large daisy and twisted the stem in her fingers.
"You really like flowers, don't you?" I said abruptly, and she glanced to me. "It's just because I saw a violet pinned to your dress the other day…"
She blanched, looking quickly away from me to the horizon. It was a while before she answered. "Violets were always my mother's favourite."
I felt the blood drain from my face. For once, I didn't know what to say. She looked to me with tearful eyes. "You've told me everything about you, right? So… I guess I should return the favour."
"No, Evelyn, you don't have to do that-"
"It's fine. My grandma said that perhaps talking about it makes it better." She gazed down to the flower in her hands. I noticed a small scar on her right thumb. "Okay, so I have an older brother, as you know." She began with a sigh. "He's called Logan. He's a sophomore… but he will be a senior next year. He wants to be a chef when he finishes college."
"Wow." I commented.
"I know." She smiled. "Sometimes mom and dad didn't come home from work until late, and Logan would always make dinner and let me watch the TV while we ate."
"I wish my sister was like that." I mumbled. She let out a small laugh, meeting my eyes.
"Logan gets annoyed with me, too, you know." She then shrugged. "My dad has a sister who's my auntie Abby. She's at our house at the moment, but she lives in Vancouver with her husband and three kids. My mom has a brother and a sister, but her sister died when she was eleven and her brother lives in Europe, and couldn't make it to the funeral. He's coming sometime next month."
"Okay… so what about your grandparents? Would I know them?"
"Possibly." She murmured. "My grandpa was a fisherman, but he never told us about the Quileute special fishing ways. His name is Jonathan?" She looked to me to see if I knew the name. "Jonathan Hund?"
"Oh- yeah, I think I've heard the before. Hey, is their house the big white one with the wrap around veranda?"
"Yes!" She giggled. "Yeah."
"Some of the older guys went there to help them on their house because their roof was leaking, right?"
"You were there?"
"Well… no, but I know some people who were. As I told you, we go to Lake Ozette a couple of times a year. And I always looked at that house and thought…"
I smiled at her. "That it looked like a good family home. You know, the kind that the grandma would make cookies with the grandchildren, and made these delicious pies and place them on the windowsill to cool. I could almost smell it."
She grinned. "My gran does make the best pies. Especially her apple and raspberry one. But my grandpa makes this strudel and the recipe has been in the family for a long time."
She rolled her eyes but smiled. "It's a German dessert. Its loads of layers of pastry with cinnamon and apple, and we have ice cream with it." Then, as an afterthought: "Hund means dog in German."
"Oh. You're from Germany?"
She nodded. "A long way back. You have to try the pretzel recipe too. My brother knows it off by heart."
She spoke like this all the way to the lake. Her voice was so full of life, and not the sadness I had originally heard. Her eyes were bright as she told me of old German tales, and how parts of her family were from Austria, and they had traced them back to this lake called Wolfgangsee. She knew a lot of history. She said that sometimes she felt like her family was stuck in the middle. They had come from Germany a long time ago, but in the world wars they were called traitors. Just like we were.
She had gathered flowers, too, on our journey. She told me which kind each were. Pansies, fox gloves, cow parsley, a wild rose which had a blue tinge to it- and violets. We were by the lake now, and she said that when her mother and father first met, they were fourteen and her mother had been picking violets in the forest by the lake where her dad was fishing.
Lake Ozette was a calm, still disk that reflected the tree line and the sky perfectly. Pond skaters slid over the smooth surface, and we spotted dragonflies dancing together and cabbage butterflies. The clouds were beginning to part in places, and the sunlight rained down. I pulled off my jumper as we walked through the meadow of tall green grass and daisies. We paused by the sand where old canoes lay, and the wind ruffled her long hair as she looked over the lake. I knew then that this was where her father would fish. This was where her parents met. This is where her very being became a possibility.
As we walked to her house down a small path, she grew ever quieter, more enclosed. She was drifting away from me again as her cloud of sadness descended, and I watched her go with an aching in my heart that I didn't understand.
I cared for her. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives, had lived the same life, and only now we had met. I understood her more than I understood myself. The pain, I knew, I would never understand. But she had told me about her family, about her parents, and I knew I was the only one to hear such things from her. I was the only one she had smiled at, who she had laughed with. We were from two different worlds, but somehow, we met in the middle and our landscapes were similar.
So when she turned around to me when we got to her grandparents' house, which stood proudly between the trees, I smiled and walked through the gate which she held open for me, and braced myself for my future- which I knew Evelyn was in.