John, Tommy, and I lived in a place called Hiawatha, Kansas. There was never much to do in that quaint little town and we often found ourselves wandering. We rode our bikes on the dirt roads along the corn fields and swam in the creek by my house. Young boys chasing adventure and itching for trouble is what we were. Some days we would ride our bikes all the way to the Ioway reservation in White Cloud. There was a big open field there that we loved. Though, this field was private property, like everything else on the reservation. We always felt particularly rebellious going to White Cloud for this very reason. Ioway Native American Pow Wows were held in that field, and if we were lucky, there would still be replica tee-pees up that we could play in. I always pretended to be the chief and John and Tommy would be the cowboys. I remember playing in that field for hours until we knew our mommas would wring our necks if we didn’t get home.
One particularly dreary day, a storm was coming in, but that didn’t stop us from wandering down to the reservation. It was a windy September afternoon when we made it to the field. We played around for a while when I stumbled upon a turquoise necklace hidden in the dirt. I dug it out and wrapped it around my wrist a few times before snapping the latch together at the end so it wouldn’t fall off. “What you got, Jesse?” Tommy asked when I ran back to my friends. “It’s a necklace. Must’ve gotten lost from one of them vendors at the last Pow Wow.” I replied. “It’s startin’ to get cloudy and momma isn’t gonna be happy with me if I’m out in this storm.” John said to us with a concerned look. Unwillingly, we picked up our bicycles and began our journey back home.
Halfway there, the rain started. At first it was just a drizzle, and then it was as if the sky opened. and iIt began to pour. Mud was flying from the tires of our bikes and covering our soaked clothes. Thunder roared above our heads as we made it into our neighborhood. I reached my driveway and dropped my bike on the pavement before running to the shelter of my porch. My father stood at the door shaking his head in disappointment. “Go on upstairs and take a shower.” he said to me. I grabbed the door from him and started my way inside. “Aht! Shoes off! You know better than to track mud through the house.” He yelled after blocking the doorway. I sat on the concrete step outside the door and untied my, now brown, laces and pulled my sopping wet shoes off my feet. My father backed out of the doorway and allowed me in. I hung my head low as I made my way up the stairs and to the shower.
That evening after dinner, I laid in bed and ran that necklace through my fingers and stared at it proudly. It had little silver beads strung between the large pieces of turquoise that shined in the light of my lamp. I could hear the faint yelling of my parents downstairs. Unfortunately, their arguing was not uncommon and I was used to drowning them out. “I wish they would just shut up.” I said to myself. A loud bang of thunder roared outside my window and I threw the covers up over my head. I inched out of bed and put the necklace on my nightstand before holding my pillows over my ears in an attempt to silence the noises around me. After several minutes of rustling around, I fell asleep.
“Jesse! Jess!” I woke to the sound of my mother’s voice. “I’m coming!” I groaned. “Your father is sick. I’m going to need you to look after him while I’m at work,.” she said when I got downstairs. I walked into my parents’ room to see my father lying in bed with a cloth covering his forehead. He coughed and grumbled something my way, which was odd considering he normally yelled. “Can you speak up?” I asked my father, not being able to comprehend anything he said. “I c-can’t.” He managed to choke before taking another drink of water. I walked to the kitchen to refill his glass of water and returned it to the table beside him. He nodded his head toward me and I left the room. I walked outside and sat on my porch to take a deep breath and wake myself up. The screeching of bicycle brakes startled me into looking up. “Jesse! Let’s go to the rez! Tommy’s stuck at home doing chores and I’m bored.” John yelled toward me. “Can’t. My dad’s sick. Gotta watch over ‘im. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said as I turned around to go back inside. “Awe! Come on!” John groaned. I walked inside and shut the door before going to check on my father.
After my mother got home from work that evening, I was relieved from my nursing duties and retreated to my room. I crawled into bed and reached over to my nightstand to grab my necklace. As I was admiring the vibrant colors and shining beads, I realized that one bead was black with a white, a lightning-shaped crack ran through the middle. I felt as if that would have been something that I would’ve observed while looking at it yesterday, but I didn’t overthink it. The heavy rain started again, and our power began flickering off and on. I ran downstairs and into my mother’s arms out of fear. My father came stumbling out of his room, yelling in his scratchy, sick voice about how I needed to grow up and be a man. I could tell my mother wanted to stick up for me, but we were both too exhausted. She kissed me on my forehead and sent me back to my room. As I walked up the stairs, the necklace clinked around in my pocket so I clenched it still in my hand. Downstairs, I hear my father shuffling his feet and screeching something toward my mother. “I wish he would just go away..” I whispered to myself with tears rolling down my cheeks. The thunder roared outside, and I ran to my room. I grabbed a flashlight off my dresser and crawled under my blankets. I shined my flashlight onto the necklace, trying to focus on anything other than the storm. As my eyes scanned the beads, one started to get darker. I blinked to ensure my eyes weren’t tricking me. and Tthe bead went completely black. Then it hit me. The wishes I was making were being granted by the turquoise and there was no way for me to take anything that I said back. My head swirled with visions of all the possibilities I now had in the palm of my hand and I stared at my spinning ceiling fan and listened to the rain slowly turn into a sprinkle.
The next day, my father’s illness had gotten much worse and my mother thought that it would be best for us to take him to the hospital. Once we got there and they put him in a room, they ran tests for hours and pricked and poked him until they could find out what was wrong. I had fallen asleep on my mother’s shoulder in the waiting room by the time the doctor had come to any conclusions. I was fast asleep and didn’t hear what he was saying. When I woke up my mother said, “Daddy’s gonna have to stay for a few nights.” I looked up at her and asked if we could go home, and she paused before telling me yes.
The ride home that night was quiet. There was no tension, no anger, and no yelling. We pulled into our driveway and I rubbed my eyes before hopping out of the car. My mom fumbled with the keys in her hand and took a deep breath before finding the correct one and opening the door. We both stood in the doorway for a few minutes. Neither of us were scared to go inside for the first since before I can remember. She grabbed my hand and held it tight and said, “I love you Bbub.” She let go and told me to get ready for bed. I smiled and walked upstairs after hugging her goodnight.
That night I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, but not because I wanted to drown anything out, because I wanted to soak everything in. I felt like I could breath for the first time in months and I knew that my mother could finally sleep in peace. I rolled over and stared out my second story window at the stars and trees and smiled. It seemed bittersweet. Tomorrow we would have to go back to the hospital and care for him like he’s never cared for us. That is, of course, if I don’t wish this away. I hopped out of bed and grabbed the necklace. I sat back down with my heart racing out of my chest. “I wish…”