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Some conversations need to be had, and some do not. Thomas must decide which he is facing when love strikes on the Reservation.
Uncle Tells the Sixth Story
“I would be safe until the next time I faced the shadows.”
Uncle leaned back and breathed out the smoke he had held in as he spoke. He looked upon that smoke as it clouded out around his face and drifted slowly, brokenly, into the air. It did not move as much as it had. It seemed tired, and so did Uncle. With a gentle breath, Uncle leaned forward and coughed.
When he leaned back, he began to roll a new cigarette with his yellowed fingers and broken nails. He pushed the loose leaves this way and that before squeezing the paper around them on one side with his thumbs. He licked the open side and finished the roll. Uncle took pride in his ability, and this was no exception.
He reached down beside his chair and lifted his coffee cup, finding it empty. He slid the freshly rolled smoke behind his ear, and he rose slowly to his feet and shuffled as best he could towards the table. The children all looked on in worry, as they knew that this was some of the longest Uncle had taken to tell a story in a single night. He stopped and rested several times on his path to the table and his coffee pot. He lifted the dirty plate off the top and poured himself a full mug.
Replacing the plate, he turned and waddled back, huffing heavily when he came to rest in his chair once more. His chair creaked, and Uncle leaned forward and patted the body before him.
“Some lives are destined to be difficult. Feel no never mind about that.” He spoke directly to the body, with a wisp of sadness. He pushed his hair back from his face and shook his head, pulling his cigarette from behind his ear. He leaned back and lit his smoke with a deep drag and a small smile. This was what he needed. His coffee sipped, he looked back towards the children. “Some lives are destined to be difficult, children. Remember that. Remember that we must be what we will be. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine that your lives could be destined to be difficult, no matter what?” He looked at the children and laughed quietly. “Well, I suppose you children might know it very well.”
Uncle shook his head and took a deep drag of his smoke. He smiled and sat quietly, contemplatively, and the children sat quiet with him. The crackle of the fire opened the doors of their desires for the stories yet to come. Uncle took his time, his enjoyment of the break obvious.
That is, until he snubbed his cigarette and tossed it toward the flame. He set his mug upon the ground and laughed. “I suppose it is time. Perhaps a happier story, and perhaps not.” He lifted his hand and grasped the smoke that hovered lazily in the air. He sucked it in and held it. He held it, and it spoke in the voice of a near-adult. It spoke in the forlorn tone of one who has lost that which they once desired.
“I was eighteen the day I fell in love”
This is a short story written as part of the book “This Life as Told by an Old Ndn.”
Find out about the rest of Thomas’ stories at ourorchard.co