Author’s Note: This was originally written for a story prompt (they call it Scene Stealers) from Write To Done. This is the edited version.
Anne watched the sun come up for the fifth day in a row. Sleep had eluded her since the accident. If Tomas hadn’t taken that rocky trail with a lick and a promise, she might not be so alone right now. Though sayin’ she was alone seemed a bit like a lie. These Injuns woke up early, earlier than any person she’d known.
The small one, the one that liked to follow her ‘round, sat besides her. His hair was blacker than the grizzle on the corn they ate. She liked to touch it – but only when no one was watchin’.
The tallest one, who had hair longer than hers, was ace-high. Probably the one most in charge, a down right big bug. When the gatherun folk got back from their searches each one placed their wares in front o’ him. After the briefest o’ inspections some o’ the food got thrown into one pile and the others in another. Their funny language left Anne at sea, so she had to decide for herself which pile meant ‘good’ and which meant ‘bad’.
The small one was trying to talk to her again. He pulled on her sleeve and pointed across the fields. All Anne saw was the sun, coming up brighter and pinker. She looked down to gather a guess but he just smiled and smiled at her. Anne, havin’ nothin’ better to do, smiled back.
A shout shot clear across the clearing, “You, come here. Now.” It was the tallest one.
“Yes, Sir.” She said stumblin’ as she got up from the ground. Her knees ached from sitting so crossed-legged all the time.
When she got to him, the tallest one glanced her up and down. Then he did a head nod, not unlike her Uncle James’ ‘that’ll do’ nod.
The jitters crossed her heart as she remembered the last she saw o’ Uncle James. Poor man, gone up the flume with a spike o’ wood through his head. Them stories she’d heard before they’d left Georgia were scuttlebutt, folk more like to die by a wagon accident than an Injun arrow.
“Strong.” The tallest one said, knockin’ her outta her reverie. “And able. You just reached birthin’ age?” Anne nodded. The tallest one smiled a deep smile, “You think on stayin’.”
Anne stared. Stayin’?
A younger man came up to her. He gently took her hand and brought her to a group clumped around a fire. They were shellin’ corn. He pointed at the group, then looked at her. She nodded a twig and set to work.
Havin’ work helped keep her mind away from erthing that happened. The rain comin’ down in heaps. The delay makin’ the food all bad. The lack o’ game. Mama coming down with the consumption. And that damn sudden rock let fly the entire wagon. Everyone she knew, everyone she loved, pitched over that rock riddled hill.
The big woman next to her touched her arm. Concern must be a universal thing. Anne wiped her tears and nodded her okay. The woman returned the nod but kept her look o’ worry. Anne shuddered a sigh and went back to work.
The day didn’t last long. Winter was on it’s way. Anne looked back at the purple sky as the sun started fallin’.
These Injuns were nice enough to her, and if she hadn’t a family no more, seemed like a safe place to stay. As she entered her new home she found the small one asleep in her blanket. After all, she’d already made a friend.
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