Rawlins wasn’t too far away. It wasn’t very big either, though clearly the largest town in Carbon County. They pulled off the main street and Phoenix was jostled about on the rough, poorly-maintained road. The gravel road to Ba’a O’ng was nicer than this!
“There’s a joke that in Rawlins, we drive on what’s left,” Sage Eagle quipped.
“No doubt!” Phoenix replied.
Sage Eagle parked in front of a thrift store and accompanied Phoenix inside. “I could give you the money and just sit outside, but that’s boring… besides, if your ankle starts giving you trouble, I’d be of no use out here!” he explained as he held the door for her.
It felt strangely romantic as they looked at everything together. Phoenix loved feeling his warmth as they huddled together, looking at something she thought she wanted for her home. It was exciting to be planning her own home – one without the terrors of Frank – one that would be hers… She could almost pretend it would be for Sage Eagle’s home too – like they were doing it as a couple. They had worked together on finishing her earthship over the weekend.
She mused repeatedly that her peace offering had been more successful than she could have anticipated. Even if nothing more ever happened between them, they were friends now and that was priceless in its own right!
They came out with some towels, sheets and some dishes that she liked. “I love thrift stores!” she said. “I think they’re so exciting! Frank didn’t like them, saying they were other people’s cast-offs!”
“I like being frugal,” Sage Eagle replied. “I figure that these are things that survived someone else, so are more likely to last awhile longer.”
Phoenix smiled at his practicality. Once again, it showed how similar they were – like what Little Deer had said.
Shopping stowed, they drove to another thrift store a few streets away.
Immediately upon going inside, Phoenix saw a huge dream catcher up on the wall. “Wow!” she said, before seeing that the price was higher than she’d like to pay. It was stunning though, with beads and feathers.
“Do you want it?” Sage Eagle asked.
“I don’t need it,” Phoenix replied.
“That wasn’t what I asked,” he argued. “Would you like it?”
“It’s beautiful,” she admitted. “But...”
“Then you shall have it!”
“I can and I will! You deserve beautiful things in your life!”
He looked at her sternly, his face so close to his that she wondered if he was about to kiss her to shut her up. “You are going to have this,” he told her.
“Okay… thank you,” she finally replied, wondering why she was making such a fuss.
His stern look melted into a smile. “You don’t take spoiling too well.”
“Deserve it… entirely!” he insisted.
“Sage Eagle,” the shopkeeper interrupted. “I have something for you.”
He approached the counter and Phoenix went with him. The shopkeeper looked at her curiously, then back at Sage Eagle. The woman pulled a bag from under the counter.
“I cannot sell this, I cannot even own this, but I believe you can,” she explained, pulling out an object made of about three eagle feathers only slightly overlapping.
Sage Eagle took it and examined it thoroughly. It was beautiful! Phoenix couldn’t keep her hand back, but had to touch it. He nodded. “I believe it is yours Coonagwi,” he told her. “I will teach you how to sage your house when we get back.”
Phoenix’s mouth gaped open as Sage Eagle pressed the fan into her hand.
“Thank you,” Sage Eagle told the shopkeeper. He also put the dreamcatcher on the counter. “We will buy this, but still need to look around a bit more.” He guided her back to the shelves full of things.
“Why couldn’t she sell this?” Phoenix asked, still holding the feathers.
“That’s a smudging fan – made of eagle feathers. American law prohibits the possession of eagle feathers – unless you’re a tribe member… which you are now.”
Phoenix couldn’t find anything more to say as they looked around and picked up a number of items that would help her settle into her new home.
Sage Eagle went to pay. Phoenix saw her medallion in his wallet as he pulled out some bills. She felt proud that he liked it enough to keep it with him.
“Thank you!” she cried as they reached the van again. “For the smudging fan and the dreamcatcher… and everything else!”
Sage Eagle shrugged. “Consider everything your welcome gift – I didn’t do a very good job of welcoming you before.”
“I will treasure these gifts, always.”
“I know you will… that’s why I give them to you. Were you never given nice things before?”
“Gifts were always something useful and practical – or had an ulterior motive, i.e. to help me keep a cleaner home or make better food.”
“Sometimes, things should be given for those purposes,” he admitted. “But most of the time, a gift shouldn’t be particularly practical, but something whimsical… something that’s given just because it’s beautiful…”
“Isn’t the dreamcatcher useful?”
“Helping you have good dreams rather than bad ones is definitely useful, but any dreamcatcher can do that. You admired that beautiful one the moment we got in there – that was the one that wanted to go home with you.”
“You think inanimate objects have a consciousness?”
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “But sometimes something is meant for you. I can’t completely explain it. Do you think that’s weird?”
“I haven’t really thought about it before, but somehow it makes sense.”
He reached over and took her hand. “I’m glad you made me that medallion.”
“Do you really like it?” she asked.
“I love it! I don’t think anyone other than my family have done that for me and I know it took a lot of work for you. Thank you for making peace with me.”
“Thank you for accepting it. I was so scared!”
“Because you sacrificed time, I knew you were genuine. I’m sorry for doubting your intentions before.”
“I just want a home – somewhere I belong.”
“You belong with us – at Ba’a O’ng.”
Phoenix could only smile and hope her tearing eyes didn’t leak embarrassingly.
Back to the prologue
Available to purchase at Books2Read. Print version will be available soon.
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Previous Swan Valley Stories:
- Native Concession either in ebook form or [print]( . (June 2014, approximately 9 months before Phoenix.)
Swan Valley is a fictitious American Indian reservation located in the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming, USA. The Neme'o'ng (Swan People) are based on the idea of blending the Shoshoni and Arapaho peoples - as might have happened if they were stranded in a desolate area as a small band of misfits. I have developed their language from the same ideas.
Please read my note on romance, teenage intimate relationships and underage sex. I apologize if my understanding conflicts with your sense of morality, but I'm only looking at things realistically, not ideologically. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!
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