A Different Blue
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He picked up the remaining papers quietly and halted when he came to the desk where I was sitting. I watched him read the line I added. He looked up at me, a question in his face.
“You haven't written very much.”
“There isn't much to tell.”
“Somehow I doubt that.” Wilson looked back down at the paper and studied what I'd written. “What you've written sounds almost like a….a legend or something. It makes me think of your name when I read it. Did you do that intentionally?”
“Echohawk was the name of the man who raised me. I'm not sure what my name is.”
I thought the bold statement would make him back off. Make him uncomfortable. I stared him down and waited for him to respond or dismiss me.
“My first name is Darcy.”
Laughter sputtered from my chest at the randomness of his response, and he smiled with me, the ice broken between us.
“I hate it. So everyone just calls me Wilson . . . except for my mother and my sisters. Sometimes I think not knowing what my name is would be a blessing.”
I relaxed a little, leaning back in my desk. “So why did she name you Darcy? Sounds pretty Malibu Barbie to me.” It was Wilson's turn to snort.
“My mother loves classic literature. She's extremely old-fashioned. Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy is her favorite.”
I knew very little about classic literature, so I just waited.
“Look, Miss Echohawk –”
“Ugh! Stop that!” I groaned. “My name is Blue. You sound like an old man with a little bow-tie when you talk like that! I am nineteen, maybe twenty. You aren't that much older than me so . . . just . . . stop!”
“What do you mean, maybe twenty?” Wilson raised a questioning eye brow.
“Well . . . I don't exactly know when I was born – so I suppose I could be twenty already.” Jimmy and I had celebrated my birthday every year on the anniversary of the day my mother abandoned me. He was pretty certain I was around two years old at the time. But he had no way of knowing how old I actually was. When I'd finally been enrolled in school they had put me in the grade below my estimated age because I had so much catching up to do.
“You . . . don't know what your name is . . . and you don't know when you were born?” Wilson's eyes were wide, almost disbelieving.
“Makes writing the personal history a little challenging, doesn't it?” I sneered, angry all over again.
Wilson seemed completely stunned, and I felt a surge of power that I had taken him off his high horse.
“Yes . . . I guess it does,” he whispered.
I pushed past him and headed for the door. When I was halfway down the hall, I tossed a look back over my shoulder. Wilson stood in the doorway to his classroom, his hands shoved into his pockets, watching me walk away.
I didn't go to school until I was approximately ten years old. Jimmy Echohawk didn't stay in one place long enough for school to be an option. I had no birth certificate, no immunization record, no permanent address. And he was afraid, though I hadn't known that then.
He had done his best for me, in the only way he knew how. When I was still small, he fashioned several toys from the scraps of wood he had left over from his projects. Some of my very earliest memories were watching him work. It fascinated me, the way the wood would wrinkle and curl as he would chisel away. He always seemed to know what the end result would be, as if he could see what lay beneath the layers of bark, as if the wood was guiding him, guiding his hands in smooth strokes. And when he did stop, he would sit beside me, staring at the unfinished sculpture, gazing for long periods of time, as if the work were continuing in his head, in a place I was no longer privy to observe. He made a living selling his carvings and sculptures to tourist shops and even a few upscale galleries featuring local artists and southwestern art. He had cultivated a relationship with several shop owners throughout the West, and we would travel between shops, eking out a meager existence from the money he made. It wasn't much. But I was never hungry, I was never cold, and I don't remember ever being really unhappy.
I didn't know any different, so I wasn't especially lonely, and I had been brought up in silence, so I felt no need to fill it the few times I was left alone. There were times when Jimmy would leave for several hours, as if he needed respite from the restraints parenthood had placed upon him. But he always came back. Until the day he didn't.
We lived mostly in the warmer climates – Arizona, Nevada, Southern Utah and parts of California. It just made life easier. But that day was so hot. Jimmy had left early in the morning with a few words that he would be back later on. He had left on foot, leaving the truck to bake beside the trailer. We had a dog he called Icas, which is the Pawnee word for turtle. Icas was slow and blind and slept most of the time, so the name was fitting. Icas got to go with Jimmy that morning, which I was hurt and bothered by. Usually we were both left behind, although Icas had seemed reluctant to go, and Jimmy had to whistle for him twice. I tried to stay busy, as busy as a ten or eleven-year-old girl can without video games or cable or a soul to talk to or play with. I had my own projects, and Jimmy was generous with his tools.
I spent the morning sanding a small branch I had fashioned into the curving, sinuous likeness of a snake. Jimmy had told me it was good enough that he thought he could sell it. That was a first for me, and I worked diligently in the shade of the ragged canopy that stretched ten feet from the camper door, providing blessed shade in the 110 degree heat. We were camped at the base of Mount Charleston, just to the west of Las Vegas. Jimmy had wanted more Mountain Mahogany, a scrubby evergreen tree that looked nothing like the rich dark wood most people associated with mahogany. Wood from the Mountain Mahogany was reddish-brown in color and hard, like most of the wood Jimmy worked with when he was sculpting.