Wind River

Wind River

A Story by LJ
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true short short story

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The tribal cop came to the Sioux woman’s house late at night. I was already in bed, trying to relax after innumerable cups of coffee with innumerable uncles and cousins. My boyfriend, Midge, talked to the cop, a big dude in uniform who patrolled the Northern Arapaho Wind River reservation in Wyoming.


Midge was Southern Arapaho, with lots of Northern Arapaho relatives he brought me up there to meet. I was Western Hippie, with a drop of East Canadian Winnebago.


I was happy, too.


Midge and I had sort of gotten married in a tipi meeting down south, in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory. I didn’t put much stock in it, being new to tipi ways and, though I was in love, I wasn’t ready to really commit. In the tipi, they just put a nice blanket around the two of us and said we were married. We sang some chants. It was good.


But that night in Wyoming, the trouble seemed to be the lack of a marriage certificate. The tribal cop said I couldn’t stay so long on that reservation without one. Together with Midge, he decided the best thing would be for Midge and me to go north right away to Lander, just past the reservation border, and get married the next morning.


I didn’t mind the idea of spending the rest of the night in a motel up there, but I did resist the whole ‘married-by-a-judge’ idea. I told Midge privately that I wouldn’t mean a word I said in such a ceremony. I even laughed.


“I can’t promise I’ll stay with you ‘til one of us dies,” I said. “I can’t promise to obey and all that. I love you, but I’m not ready for something like that.”


Midge didn’t laugh, but he immediately said, “That’s okay. You don’t have to mean it. We’ll just get a certificate.”


The low-key event took place in the judge’s courtroom, with two older, giggly women, secretaries there, as witnesses. It seemed - almost - to take no time at all.


One moment though, took a long time to pass.


The judge got to the question, the vow, the “I do” part, and I froze. I was suddenly aware that it was a vow, and that most people took vows seriously. I took them seriously. It was no game.


Did I want to promise so much, give up a certain freedom, look that deeply into the future?


I looked sideways at Midge. He glanced at me, his expressive brown eyes smiling for half a second, and looked back at the judge, calm.


We were holding hands.


I took a deep breath and said, “I do.”


And everything changed. I meant it! Maybe not so much the ‘obey’ part, but I meant most of it. I took a vow and would do my best to keep it. Throughout the ride back to the Sioux woman’s house, I was quiet, impressed by the enormity of it. Just like that, I was married.


At the Sioux woman’s house, efforts toward some kind of wedding party had been made. Fresh stew bubbled on the stove. The old woman was all toothless smiles while she insisted on braiding my hair, with ribbons, in some complex ‘do. She didn’t speak much English, but said “good, good!” a great many times.


We had a feast of fry bread and stew and each other’s company.


Late that night, in the deep silence of that place, it occurred to me that the tribal cop, never seen by me afterward nor mentioned again, could have been in collusion with Midge. Maybe they set it up together and there was no such reservation law. I could have been fooled into the whole thing. No... really?


What a fix! Did I care? If it was a trick, did I resent it? Not much. I wasn't even sure it was.


I was sure of this:

Midge and I still held hands while we drifted to sleep, and Wind River was beautiful.

© 2022 LJ


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Featured Review

I couldn't resist reading this, since I have a particular fondness for Native American culture.

I think that you dealt with the subject matter in a really gentle, emotive way. I liked the way you show the speaker's hesitation about the formal 'legally-binding' ceremony and her feelings about Midge and the possibility that she had been tricked. I really liked that she decided that it doesn't matter because she loved him and that was her truth.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece with us.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

LJ

3 Months Ago

I'm really glad you read it, and more glad you like it. Your expression about the piece is deeply ap.. read more



Reviews

I couldn't resist reading this, since I have a particular fondness for Native American culture.

I think that you dealt with the subject matter in a really gentle, emotive way. I liked the way you show the speaker's hesitation about the formal 'legally-binding' ceremony and her feelings about Midge and the possibility that she had been tricked. I really liked that she decided that it doesn't matter because she loved him and that was her truth.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece with us.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

LJ

3 Months Ago

I'm really glad you read it, and more glad you like it. Your expression about the piece is deeply ap.. read more

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Added on April 11, 2022
Last Updated on April 11, 2022
Tags: nonfiction, Native Americans, marriage, Wyoming, Wind River

Author

LJ
LJ

CA



About
i am testing this to see what it's all about now. i used to write here years ago, and enjoyed it very much. i wrote fiction mostly, and many reviews for other writers. i made friends, and hope to agai.. more..

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