Image by Smithsonian Institution via Flickr
Where the Wild
By Penny Fletcher
I really loved this story... It spoke to me in many ways, not the least of which was Ms. Fletcher's writing. It began in 1960. Funny, for me, that doesn't seem long ago and, what was striking was that it opened into a scene that, perhaps, really would have more naturally occurred one hundred years before that...
John Elk was in the midst of a healing. The white woman had been brought because the white man's medicine was not strong enough. John Elk had no problem in using his gift from the Great Spirit for all... But in the midst of that activity, another was started. Two white men rode into the camp--to kill, to steal, and to seek babies they could later sell. Wild Rose was one of those children. She was four when taken--this is her story.
By 1968, Priscilla (Cilla) was living with a woman she considered her stepmother, along with her two children. Like Cinderella, as the oldest, Cilla was made to do most of the work and care for the two little girls. But Cilla had grown to love them as sisters and had even begun to steal in order to ensure the little girls had something to eat.
Rayline was an alcoholic who worked in bars and then later partied there. While the children slept on a bare mattress in a corner of a kitchen, Rayline would share her bed with the latest man she met. Sometimes her ex-husband, who had first stolen Cilla and brought her there, would come to visit. If a man was already there, he would sleep on the couch. He was the father of the two little girls and was grateful for Cilla's care. But he would soon leave to continue his life of thievery.
Cilla was in school, but her mother had made it quite clear that Cilla was never to tell anybody about where and how it was at home. No friends were ever to be invited. Fortunately, they did have a television and old reruns of shows with Donna Reed and other home-related stories allowed her to learn how "some" families lived. Cilla was also lucky that their school provided two meals and some of that food and what she could steal from the lunch bags of other children was oftentime only what was provided to her sisters.
Cilla was intelligent and had learned of Robin Hood so she knew it was alright to steal from the rich and give to the poor--so she chose only the lunches of those children she knew had rich parents...
Cilla was also a special little girl. Since she had been stolen, she had had guardians who came to her in her dreams to guide her and teach her of the ways of her ancestors. While she had not realized she was "not" white as a younger girl, she began to notice and understand more as she got older.
But as Cilla grew older, she had learned from her mother that smoking took away the desire for food, so she started to steal cigarettes. That plus other issues began to have a concerned teacher quietly monitoring what Cilla was doing. When Cilla had to stay later, for instance, she would watch as she left, lit a cigarette and hitched a ride home. One day she started asking Cilla questions and soon Welfare officials were involved.
The climatic conclusion of this story is soooo satisfyingly wonderful. It might have been Penny Fletcher's imagination that wrote this, but the story readers will actually see the workings of the Great Spirit as He might have done it through his own activities! A thoroughly enjoyable and heartwarming story that is truly memorable!