3TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

Bluebonnets danced around her white skirt as she turned her face toward the sun. She only needed a few for the vase. Perhaps a little joy would soothe the inevitable unease at the table that night. It was always tense when meeting with her neighbors. She hoped enough time had passed. They had to know there was nothing she could do to change what had happened, right?

(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)  

 


 

Bluebonnets danced around her white skirt as she turned her face toward the sun. The prairie stretched flat behind her, the endless Texas sky as big as the love that brought her here each day. Osie gathered the flowers and pulled them into a tight bundle in her left hand. She walked north, the same route – so engrained in her feet that she scarcely looked down, sidestepping obstacles as the prairie wind whipped her hair across her face

She counted the steps, knowing the moment the sound of the river would begin. It urged her on. She knew he would be waiting. She moved forward, brushed aside the shrubs that clung to the bank for hydration and brought the toes of her boots to the edge of the rushing water. She closed her eyes and pressed the bluebonnets to her chest.

Osie would never forget the first day she saw him. They were new to the territory, some of the first to homestead in the area. It had been an arduous journey from the rolling hills of Tennessee, but Pa had gotten word that land here was cheap so they had packed up the wagon and come west. She had walked with her sister May beside the horses while their father drove. Most nights, by the time they made camp they were so exhausted they fell right to sleep as soon as the supper dishes had been washed. But sometimes, Pa sat smoking his pipe around the fire and told stories of the Indians.

“They are wild savages,” he warned, “Kill ya as soon as look at ya. Arrow, right there!” he poked May in the ribs, and she giggled. Osie had been terrified.

They made their home, clearing the land together until Osie’s hands were blistered and little May was covered in chiggar bites. They built their home, and were as happy there as anywhere. Her father hunted and the girls made preserves and gathered honeycombs. They had a speckled hound name Lucius who thought May hung the moon. Neither girl ever saw any Indians.

Osie woke every morning with the sun to feed the chickens. One morning, as she was headed to the coop she looked out over the flat expanse of horizon and she saw them at the creek. She could just see their black silhouettes outlined against the orange and purple sunrise. Their horse’s heads were bowed, the men ran their hands down their flanks as they drank. It was peaceful. Osie began to look for them every morning, and as time went on, began to move closer.

One autumn morning, she hid in some bushes. Leaning against the branches, she watched them, mesmerized by their copper skin and soft lilting language. She was no hunter, and wore bulky boots and a heavy calico dress. She should have known her presence was no secret. The tension in their voices grew, and, they moved on quickly, vanishing silently into the morning light. One of them had paused, turning his horse and glancing back over his shoulder. He was handsome, his sharp nose and high cheekbones regal.

Osie walked back home, devastated at the idea that they may not return because of her carelessness. On a whim that afternoon, she decided. She gathered scraps of material, and a jar of honey, and placed it next to the shrub where she had been that morning.

The next day, in its place, she found wooden beads.

This continued for weeks. She left a drawing, or a sachet of lavender, and received a bit of buckskin or an arrowhead. Osie kept her treasures in a small box under her bed, and told no one.

It was Christmas season, sharply cold and gray, when Osie waited for him. He didn’t seem surprised, but stood stalk still until she beckoned him. She held out her gift to him, a pair of socks she knitted, tied in a red bow.

They met every morning – holding hands, her creamy white skin against his copper skin, beautiful in its contrast. They taught one another their names, his was Maquilla, and names of things, like ‘flower’.

He pressed her hand to his heart, and his lips. She felt herself flush pink. She was still flush when she entered the house and her father slammed her box on the table. He kept her in the house for weeks, and rallied the neighbor men to descend on the Indian village.

It began to become spring, the bluebonnets turned the plains into an ocean. She gathered a bouquet as she followed the trail of arrowheads leading to the river.

Maquilla called her name from the opposite shore. They looked at one another, he raised his hand to his heart, and she raised the bluebonnet bouquet to hers.

They jumped, plunging into brown water, swimming towards one another. But the current was strong as their hands met, ripping them apart. A bouquet of bluebonnets floated on the surf.

Her spirit visits spot where his village had been. After their deaths, her father and the white men burned it to the ground. She hoped enough time had passed. They had to know there was nothing she could do to change what had happened, right?