FOR CHUCK WENDIG – 278 words.
I don’t normally post any of my work to this blog, but this has been published so it belongs to me – no cheating (write your own stuff!).
William Michael Goins THE PHOTOGRAPH
Not nearly enough for a place to sleep and barely enough something to eat, but it is what the White man offers for a photograph.
Five dollars. Just to stand still and let him take a picture. Grandfather’s spirit leans close, his dusty breath on my ear as he laughs.
His own father, Wind-in-the-Sky, long dead, frowns, afraid I will lose my spirit to the White man and his camera.
I look at the man and shake my head. No one will ever take my spirit.
The White man smiles and moves closer – one step, then two – the last of the sun spilling like blood across his shoulder as he moves the focus ring in and out and stares at me through the camera.
“He thinks you’re Navaho,” whispers Grandfather who is not there.
“Or Zuni, maker of the rings with the blue stones,” says Wind-the-Sky, his dust again in my ears.
The White man asks my name and I take a moment to read his eyes.
“James Benson,” I tell him, making up a name from the signs I see over his other shoulder.
He nods, but I know he cannot hear that which is rising in me.
“Okay, hold still. Look right here.”
I stare into the camera’s dark eye, only four generations away from the killer of many soldiers, stealer of many horses, the stories still told Apache children at night when no White man is around.
“The Zuni called us Apachu. The enemy,” whispers my long dead father, and the click of my knife opening is the only thing heard over the growing wind.