Rhoda used to tell people she was a captive even though anyone with eyes and a nose could see they belonged together. Boyd, red face and all, was her father. There was no hiding that odor of land, that set of blue eyes and gold cap of hair, that love of animal slaughter and the colour red, that bull dog squareness of their shoulders. And Jane could be no one other than her mother, flinty chin, hand on hip, gunslinger style, the trigger temper.
But Rhoda persisted, used to beg rides to the county library (twice on a wagon and once on a tractor). She looked up all the names of all the women who had ever been stolen, tortured, killed, or assimilated into a tribe not of her own choosing. There was Cynthia Ann Parker and Rebecca Kellogg, Mercy Harbison and Fanny Kelly. Mary Draper, the county librarian, refused to help her get Rachel Plummer's Narrative of 21 Months' Servitude as a Prisoner Among the Comanche Indians. She said it wasn't fitting for a young lady.
She told Rhoda's parents, I think that child is unhealthy.
Boyd and Jane had to disagree. They understood a child's needs, the longing for change, for rain and a city. They'd grown up under the poverty of sun, sky, and endless mesas. They knew the limits of brown and gold and brown.
Still there would be no more trips to the library. If Rhoda had to read, let her read Jane's old novels – The Virginian, Riders of the Purple Sage, The Log of a Cowboy. If Rhoda had to dream, let her dream of cattle and hay, quilts and the occasional orchard.
Herman Begay, a man twice her age, a salesman who belonged everywhere and nowhere, who said he'd seen New York and could take her to Denver, offered her escape. She thought him handsome in a dark, foreign way. She loved his trunk full of tractor catalogs, the pictures of bulls for sale, the promise of “fine hogs.”
Boyd said, Don't go.
Jane just shrugged her shoulders.
They never married, never had children, although they did the things married couples did.
Now that's captivity, Mary Draper would tell any patron to the library.
Rhoda didn't care. She loved Herman. He took her to Denver, kept her in red dresses and green Cadillacs. Life was fun. She thought of writing a memoir.
Nan Wigington lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Her flash has appeared in Gravel, Spelk, and Pithead Chapel.
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on Facebook: