Forgotten Trails(2)

By: Bonnie R. Paulson

Shaking her head, she choked on her words. “Rachiah, I...” She squeezed her eyes tight, then opened them to pierce Rachiah with regret, shame, and guilt.

Rachiah didn’t raise her voice. “You’re not going to deny it? No excuses? Nothing?” Demanding answers and begging for something that was her right wasn’t her style.

After an indeterminable amount of time marked with MT shifting in his leather boots, Rachiah had nodded, turning on her heel to escape to her room.

She cried herself to sleep, that night and almost every other one since. Most importantly, she’d never asked her parents anything about the glaring name or brought the situation up with them again.

No. That would’ve been too easy. She’d had to go behind their backs and ask her grandparents, visit the reservation’s gossip who gleefully shared multiple confusing versions of the story, sneak through her parent’s file cabinet when they weren’t there. Basically do everything she could think of to find out as much information as possible without actually asking her parents about the truth.

As far as she knew, they still didn’t know where she’d gone. At least, she hadn’t told them.

Not yet.

But that didn’t mean her friends hadn’t told someone.

Rachiah couldn’t face the fact her parents had lied so horribly to her. This wasn’t a Santa or Tooth Fairy lie.

This was a... betrayal.

She had to know about her father.

She had to know. What if he wasn’t Salish? What if he was... gulp... Cherokee? Or Kootenai? Or Sioux?

She’d always focused on learning Salish, and the fact that she might be something else was a little disconcerting.

Living her whole life with the assurances she was full Native American, Salish, only to find out they hadn’t been honest with her from the start, stung.

Maybe her bloodlines weren’t as pristine as she’d always believed.

Her musings didn’t make the postcard write itself. She rolled as much as she could to the side of her backseat and grabbed the abandoned card and pen.

Scribbling as fast as she could, Rachiah mouthed the words she printed. “Hi, I’m doing good. The weather is great. Not sure where I’m heading next. Love, Rachiah.” Mom and Dad didn’t have her address because she didn’t have one. She dropped random cards along the way so they wouldn’t alert the authorities.

The next morning was as good as any to toss the curt note in the mail. Or rather, that morning.

She stared at the extra postcard, the one she’d gotten with Damon in mind.

A postcard. Rachiah snorted into the silence of her car. How impersonal when he continued calling her to check on her and asking Sherri about her.

She appreciated his attentions, but the wedding hadn’t exactly been her idea of a dating ground. But oh, his eyes and the angle of his forearms when he’d rolled up his sleeves. The few times she saw him had been brief but he’d seemed genuinely interested in her and what she said. Not many men were.

Sighing, she pushed the card away. He was white. She couldn’t date him with that fact blinding her to everything else.

Racism wasn’t the problem. She loved all cultures. The weight of the Salish people pulled at her. There were only a handful of full blooded Salish in her generation and they weren’t encouraged to date anyone but each other unless of course there was a marriage arranged with a different tribe, like from the coast. Then there was no dating whatsoever encouraged by anyone.

Rachiah wasn’t matched to anyone. Her options were few and unappealing. One of the men worked as a bartender at the casino at the reservation and he was almost fifteen years older than her.

She shuddered when she remembered his beady black eyes staring at her when they’d been introduced at a tribal gathering.

Proving how desperate the Salish community had become, her father suggested she date him with a grimace on his lips. Even to him, it was bitter to even contemplate.

Her phone rang. Only Cyan would call her at five-thirty in the morning. She knew Rachiah didn't sleep.

“Hello?” She knew it was Cyan, but she loved teasing her friend.

“Rachiah, I know you have caller ID. It's me.” An edge to Cyan’s tone suggested she didn't have a lot to be happy about.

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