I squinted my eyes as the light shown in the basket. I started to panic, thinking my sister Naomi got out. Then I realized she was still next to me sleep. A figure stood above us. From where I was peeking I could see his thick mustache and bushy eyebrows. His clothes looked worn and dusty and he wore a cowboy hat. The lid to our hiding place was suddenly opened. A rifle strapped over his shoulder, this unidentified white man ordered us to get out of the basket. I shook my sister, nervous about his intentions. Naomi slowly opened her eyes, then let out a loud scream when she saw the stranger standing over us. The stranger reached a hand to us, but we just stared because he looked like the people that destroyed and killed the people in our village. Finally he spoke.
“Listen, you’re going to suffocate if you don’t get some air. I won’t hurt you.”
My sister and I looked at each other first as if to get each other’s permission to move out of the box. Our legs were weak from being cramped so long. The smell of dead bodies filled the air. Naomi and I stood holding each other tight. The stranger took a blanket and threw it over my mom’s body.
“Was that your momma?” he asked.
My sister and I both nodded. He took his hat off and said sorry. I wanted to scream in agony for what I saw. I knew when we stepped out of the tepee there would be more destruction. Naomi had a tight grip on my hand as we took a moment to look at our momma’s body covered by the blanket before being led out of the tepee by the stranger.
Nothing could have prepared us to see what we saw outside our tepee. The stranger watched us intently. Bodies were lying everywhere. Absolutely everything was destroyed. I pulled from my Naomi’s tight grip and ran from body to body searching for my father, calling his name. Naomi just stood there crying and shaking uncontrollably. The stranger was stilling watching. When I found my father’s body, I laid across him and wept loudly. I prayed for a miracle, hoping that the one who allowed the sun to come up would have mercy and give my father back his life. After some time Naomi came and pulled me up and held me. She told me he was not coming back and neither was momma. The stranger put down his rifle and went back into our tepee. He opened it up and then grabbed one of the tools we made to use as a shovel. The stranger started to dig inside the tepee. Naomi and I sat near the tepee and watched him.
“We should give your parents a proper burial,” he said.
Naomi nodded. I couldn’t help feeling suspicious. I thought why did he care, was he going to kill us and put our bodies in there too? Naomi must have read my mind. “He won’t harm us,” she told me. Then she instructed me to help her with getting the spices ready to put on their bodies. I followed my sister’s instructions on how to grind and blend the aromatic spices together. She reminded me of my momma at that very moment, working intently knowing exactly what to do. Naomi mixed some olive oil from the clay pot with the spices. The stranger worked hard at digging the hole. Every once in a while he would stop and wipe his face with a piece of cloth from his front pocket. He even took a moment to get my father’s body and carry it into the tepee. Naomi showed me how to rub the oil and spices on our parents’ bodies. The sun was going down behind the mountains when the stranger finally finished. He then placed my parents’ bodies in the hole and gave Naomi and me a brief moment to say a prayer before he started covering them with the earth he dug up. I never told my sister, but I didn’t pray. I was too angry. Instead I wished for revenge.
The stranger gathered his things and walked out of the tepee. I remember looking at Naomi and asking her, “Where do we go now?” She never answered. She just told me to gather some things together and wrap them in one of the cloth sacks. I made sure to grab my Bow and arrow. When we finished my sister took my hand and led me out of the tepee and we walked towards the woods. The stranger was standing near the woods and stopped us.
“I can’t let you two go roaming out in the night all by yourselves, you’re going to have to stick with me until I can find a safe place for ya.”
Naomi looked at me and nodded, and told the stranger we were hungry. For some reason this made the stranger laugh. He held out his hand for us to shake and told us to call him Wilson. Then he asked our names, so we told him. I had to ask, “Are you going to kill us?” This made him laugh harder. He bent down and stared me straight in the face. I saw all the dirt and sweat up close.
He said, “I’m not going to kill you, but I am going to feed you. Here you can take a ride on Clover. We got a little ways to go.”
Clover was Wilson’s horse that was tied to a tree near the woods.
“I’m taking you two to my home. Should be a hot meal waiting on us.”