Rose stuffed the last bit of Snicker's Bar into her mouth and washed it down with a Coke with real sugar, no less. Wiping her mouth with the back of one hand she continued to steer with the other. She looked out the window of her rental vehicle. She had splurged a bit of money and had rented a new Corvette. Silly of her really but what the heck, she thought. The roads at home were unkind to such a low profile vehicle while the roads here in New Mexico were flat, desolate and at times and so uninteresting not even the joy of driving the responsive Vette could keep her focused. Such boring scenery. She missed the mountains of Appalachia.
Rose had left Albuquerque a few hours before, taking her time to drive toward the North-West part of New Mexico where the Navajo Territory began. Despite her looks, she had never visited or even met the relatives of her Father's side. Hard to do that when dear, old Dad was too busy shooting up to tell any family history. The best thing her parents had done was leave her with her grandmother. What she lacked in genealogical history on her Dad's side she more than made up for on her Mother's. Nanna had told her stories about her Irish ancestors at the beginning to engage a ""tweens" interest and to distract some of the anger and hostility that Rose had felt when her parents left to parts unknown. By the time Rose was in high school she didn't even think about her parents, much less her Dad's Navajo relations. It was however a rarity to find a full-blood Navajo off the Reservations. Rose supposed that the call of opiates was stronger than the call of the shaman.
Rose glanced down at her open bag and saw the unopened letter under various Snicker's wrappers. She ran a hand through her short black hair, causing it to be even more of a mess than usual. She knew what the letter from her Nanna enclosed said...what she didn't know is what the letter from her Grandfather said. Until recently he had not known of her existence. Now that he did...and that her Father was dead, he wanted to meet her. Chooli was his name, which Rose had googled and found out that meant mountain, ironic she thought as she was just thinking of the ancient range that she called home. Chooli, known to the outside as Charles, Chooli was ancient and highly devoted to his tribe. He also was devoted to the military of the United States and had enlisted to help use a code to foil the Germans and Japanese that was part of the Navajo language. Endlessly complicated in both words and grammar, the Navajo code was never broken and played a critical if small place in the Second World War. Known as the "Wind Talkers", her Grandfather was apparently very proud of his service to a country that treated his people..Rose's people, so unkind even today. Now her Grandmother told her, he was an elder and shaman to the Navajo. Rose's grandmother who wanted her to explore the world a bit before returning to work on her doctorate, found the sudden letter from her Father's Father a perfect opportunity for Rose to do so...and to know her other relatives.
"Now Rosey Girl...just because your parents were a poor fit doesn't mean all your relatives are." Nanna had told her after the letter had arrived. Rose has stared at the name and return address, envelope still unopened. Her grandfather, had sent a letter to her Nanna, introducing himself and had another letter sent for Rose directly. Her Nanna had stayed closed mouth about the contents of her letter, for the most part. Just explaining some background information and the invitation to visit. Grandfather was old and wanted to meet her. And he had seen a vision of her that needed to be communicated in person.
Rose had laughed off the remark and the unread letter. Nanna had looked at her with some sorrow, saying only, "Rosey there is more in this world than you can ken from those musty books of yours." After that it had been books on Navajo history left conveniently in the drawer with the Snicker's bars. Web addresses taped to her Coke bottles...and conversations that always seem to steer toward the Navajo world. Finally, Rose had relented just because she couldn't stand to disappoint her Nanna.
So here she was...now just miles away from the Navajo Territory. As her grandmother had instructed, Rose pulled over at a convenient place and pulled out the letters. Rose read her Grandmother's first.
Rosey Girl on your great adventure. I hope that you will find joy and closure and peace in your journey. Learn as much as you can from this. And remember...there is more in this world than in your philosophy.
Rose smirked at the Hamlet reference knowing her Nanna loved the Bard as much as she did Joyce and her ever present Finnegan's Wake. Lips turning into a small frown, Rose picked up the other letter and began to read.
I know this is all very confusing to you..it was a surprise to me when I found out about you. I am sorry we did not know each other sooner in this life. Sometimes Coyote plays awful tricks, but there is always reason behind it.
I wish for you to come and visit me. I wish to look upon you in more than my dreams. I am old. I am dying. I have much to tell you. It is very important you get here by when Coyote's star crosses the sky and this is soon. I would tell you it is important for I have seen you in my dream smoke. If you do not believe this then simply humor and old man who wants to meet his beautiful granddaughter.
Rose wiped away a tear she had not realized, fell slowly down her cheek. She took another deep breath and pulled the Corvette back onto the road. The Coyote star was beginning its cross in the sky tomorrow. She would get there in time.
Continuing on Rose found herself turning onto a dirt road. Having entered the Navajo lands some time before and having to hand over a paper with her grandfather's heavy script, Rose was ushered on. She stared at small houses and communal areas. She noted children, brown from ancestry or sun, running shoe-less around the houses but stopping to stare. Finally she came to a larger house, built much like all the rest. A middle-aged woman stood on the porch and waved to Rose. Putting down her window, the woman smiled at Rose, patting blonde hair into place.
"Well here you are then, this is Chooli's place. We are glad you could come! Oh! My name is Greta, by the way." Rose smiled back, she knew that was the right response-but she didn't feel it. All the stares driving since she went over the boarder had caused her introvert self to come out full on. She hoped these people were not "touchy."
Getting out of the Vette, she murmured a greeting and waving off an offer to help with her bags. "It isn't a problem I packed light, " Rose said to Greta, noting the woman's German accent. "I'm sorry," Rose began..
"Oh! I am a friend of the family and I help your Grandfather take care of things. I wash up, cook some, whatever needs doing." She smiled again at Rose as she shuffled through a door. "Here we are, just set your bags and we can get them later." Rose nodded, laying down her rough suitcase.
Wiping her clammy hands on her jeans and glaring at a chocolate mark, she wished she had not wore such a casual outfit. Everything in the house screamed at her, tradition and respectability, despite it's humble size. She looked back at the door wondering if it was not too late to escape when she heard a shuffling. Looking up she saw a very old man, wrinkled from sun, time and laughter. Rose saw grey eyes like her own in a face nothing like her Father's. Yet a face she knew from countless dreams. Reeling a bit, Chooli reached out toward her.
"I have seen you in my dreams, Dinilchíí’ ..." My grandfather's voice was soft and smooth. Rose's head still spun a she stared at a man she had seen in a thousand dreams. "I don't..understand..." Rose teetered. Chooli began to swear in several languages and shook a feeble fist in the air, "Coyote! Why do you do this?" Rose looked at the fist and as she crumbled to the ground. It and large, grey eyes were the the last things she saw.
Rose woke, rubbing her head that had been up against cold stone. Sitting up slowly she blinked, all around her was stone..a hallway for sorts and toward the end a flickering light...from a torch?
"What the hades is this?" Rose whispered suddenly cold. Had she gotten sick and they had taken her to some weird place to play shaman? Surely they would take her to a hospital...with real medicine. She thought Navajo preferred the out of doors...which this place definitely was not. Rose's head whipped around at suddenly muttering from a distance. She could not make out the words as the walls seemed to both bounce and muffle the noise. Then, more clearly and perhaps more closely...another voice this time one she could understand.
"Hello? Who's there?" Rose took in the voice and looked toward the torch some way up the stone hall.