Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anna's Christmas

December 24, 1755 - Ohio Wilderness

                Snow falls all around my tiny cabin nestled deep within the French fort. I lay bound to my bed, large with child. My only companions are the wife of the French captain and her children. Today is Christmas Eve.  I watch the snow fall outside through my window.  I wonder if we were in France, where might I be? I can only imagine the grand Christmas ball thrown at Versailles. The music floating in the air as beautiful couples twirl in rhythm. The joyfulness of the season emulating throughout the palace, the midnight mass in the cathedral, family dinner with the House of Orleans, and presents. Oh, how life at the French court is drastically different from what I have here.    

                I lean back and close my eyes. Just as the birth of Jesus brought hope to the world, this Christmas I have been given hope by my French husband. What a wonderful, most blessed gift! I found love where no love should be. I was a British lady. What British lady falls in love with French nobility when there is a war going on? Oh and the love we share is magical! I giggle like a child everything I think of it. I am so happy! Never in my life have I ever been so elated. All my life, I hadn’t been a person to my father but a tool he could use to further his own objectives. He beat, molested and raped me all my life. He forced my brother and I to have incest. But that wasn’t the worse of it all. Last winter, my father held a rifle to my brothers head and forced him to beat me to death. My poor brother. He didn’t want to do it. But I pleaded to him to kill me. For I knew if he wouldn’t father would kill us both. Alexander had complied. Thank heavens he stopped beating and stabbing me when he did. I was so close to death. Afterwards Alexander gave my torn body to François then disappeared.  Oh, what a gift François is to me. He healed me back to health, gave me a child and a new life!

                This Christmas I am grateful for the many blessings God had bestowed upon me.  I have a wonderful husband who adores me. I am large with child. Alexander and I have reunited. Our parents are dead and France protects me.  

                I hear the front door close and my husband’s voice in his office. François has returned! I rise from my bed and grab my robe. I have grown too large to wear any clothes other than my chemise. Alexander believes I carry more than one child. No meal can satisfy my ravishing appetite.   I place my robe around my large body, tied it in the front and open the door to my husband’s office.  Oh, what a sight he is to my eyes. He stirs my soul with just one glance. I stand at our door watching my husband converse with his younger brother.  The war had taken a break for Christmas Eve yet even now my husband and his brother plan their next attack. How strange it seems that the world can find peace on Christmas yet the very next day act as if nothing had transpired. I do not understand it. Have we learned nothing from Jesus’ birth? The hope of the world.

Anna Marie Turner is the mother of Calico and Rose from the book "Calico" by Allison Bruning.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My son! My only son!

I shall never forget the day the white man took my sons lives! I am Peace Chief Big Deer of the Shawnee. For over thirty years, I have led my village. I have sought peace among the white nation but this hasn't always been easy. In the days of my forefathers, the Shawnee have only depended upon Our Grandmother to supply for our needs. We made own weapons, cooking supplies, and other neccesities. That all changed when the French entered our lands. Generations later, we find ourselves dependent upon the trade goods the white man supplies. We are at the mercy of the white traders.
My hope for a better future lies within my sons. Yet even they, the white man stole from me. Before the war between the French and British, I adopted a French trader as my son. For many years, we traded with him then he introduced his wife, Anna, to our people. She gave birth in our village to Calico and Rose. I was a happy man. A few years later, I adopted Anna's brother, Alexander. Life was good. My three sons and daughters loved thier white siblings. My grandchildren quickly accepted Rose and Calico. In my thinking I thought if the white man saw I had adopted two of their men then they would leave us alone. Life would be for the better. We would trade within our family. But this didn't satisfy the white man. White men want what they can't have. Our lands.
War came to our lands soon after. The British and the French wanted to lay claim to our lands. My people sided with the French. In that war, my two youngest sons were killed and my youngest daughter, Creek lost her husband. They had only been married for a week. It broke her heart. Francios white brother, Pierre, almost died. I felt sorry for him. My father - in-law, the great shaman, Yellow Oak, healed his wounds. Pierre claimed Creek as his wife.
When the war ended, the white man's destruction did not cease. Just a few days ago, word came to me from Little Owl and Pierre our missing trading party had been found. They were all dead. Smallpox had taken the lives of my sons Brave Deer and Francios and many other sons of our elders. Alexander claims the blankets were infested with smallpox and the British traded them to all native populations with the intent to kill us! When will this all end? Do not they not understand I want peace? I signed a peace treaty!
Oh, I do not know how much longer I can take this. I remain strong for my people. My last remaining son, Alexander, lies before me in his bed. He is dying. Without a son, my people will be without a leader. The leadership of the tribe is handed from father to son. Only a war chief is not. Alexander is plaqued with demons of his past. The white man destroyed his spirit and his mind. He is a good man with a good heart. The white nation taught him to lie, steal, cheat and murder. None of that matters to me. To me he is my son. My only surviving son. The fate of my people lie in his hands. This fire red haired, pale skin, green eyed man is my people's only hope. Yet here he lies, demon possessed with a strong fever that our shaman says might kill him. Oh, what am I to do? My son. My only son.