Tara pushed her, pinching and prodding and nudging her. She was hoping that one day Susan would snap. Tara was willing to be the catalyst for Susan’s explosion if it meant that she would finally realize that her fate was her own hands. She always talked about wanting things to change and Tara impatiently reminded her every single time that if she wanted something to change, she should do it herself. But Susan learned by doing, not by being told, which was why the books had always failed. Tara pushed in the hopes of proving her point.
“Enough,” Tara said, standing up and grabbing Susan by the calf. She pulled and Susan, arms flailing, slid halfway off the bed. “We’re leaving.”
“Where are we going,” Susan cried, struggling to her feet and readjusting her shirt.
“We’ll know when we get there,” Tara shouted over her shoulder, thundering down the stairs.
Susan sighed and grabbed her purse. She kept it fully stocked because one could never be too prepared when dealing with Tara: a fifty dollar bill tucked into the lining, a crumpled packet of Watermelon Rush bubblegum, a bottle of Lickety-Split Lime nail polish, a half-empty tube of SPF 30 and a nearly empty tube of Sweet Pea body lotion, a jumbo-sized bottle of Advil, a 24 pack of crayons, a notepad, three Sharpies, duct tape, an umbrella, six pairs of sunglasses, a ball of twine and a bottle of Sun-In, some band-aids and at least four rolls of gauze, an emergency stash of melted chocolate, a Bible, a thesaurus, and an annotated copy of The God of Small Things.
Tara often reminded Susan that, just by preparing for adventure, you were as good as inviting it along. Susan didn’t believe she was courting trouble by carrying around her Tara-Dalgard-inspired First Aid Kit. Tara was the magnet for disaster and Susan, as she had always been, was just along for the ride.
All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.
The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.
If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man
then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white
that we can see the blue veins running through his skin like rivers.
When the Indian woman steps out of her dress, the white man gasps
at the endless beauty of her brown skin. She should be compared to nature:
brown hills, mountains, fertile valleys, dewy grass, wind, and clear water.
If she is compared to murky water, however, then she must have a secret.
Indians always have secrets, which are carefully and slowly revealed.
Yet Indian secrets can be disclosed suddenly, like a storm.
Indian men, of course, are storms. The should destroy the lives
of any white women who choose to love them. All white women love
Indian men. That is always the case. White women feign disgust
at the savage in blue jeans and T-shirt, but secretly lust after him.
White women dream about half-breed Indian men from horse cultures.
Indian men are horses, smelling wild and gamey. When the Indian man
unbuttons his pants, the white woman should think of topsoil.
There must be one murder, one suicide, one attempted rape.
Alcohol should be consumed. Cars must be driven at high speeds.
Indians must see visions. White people can have the same visions
if they are in love with Indians. If a white person loves an Indian
then the white person is Indian by proximity. White people must carry
an Indian deep inside themselves. Those interior Indians are half-breed
and obviously from horse cultures. If the interior Indian is male
then he must be a warrior, especially if he is inside a white man.
If the interior Indian is female, then she must be a healer, especially if she is inside
a white woman. Sometimes there are complications.
An Indian man can be hidden inside a white woman. An Indian woman
can be hidden inside a white man. In these rare instances,
everybody is a half-breed struggling to learn more about his or her horse culture.
There must be redemption, of course, and sins must be forgiven.
For this, we need children. A white child and an Indian child, gender
not important, should express deep affection in a childlike way.
In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written,
all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.
When one grows up, how does one measure the growing? Is it in inches or cubic centimeters or tons or liters or jiggers or gaggles or flocks or packs? Is it in steps or lessons or characteristics or motives or choices or pages or sayings? Is it in kisses or breaths or breaks or splinters or aches?
Is it within us to even determine how much we’ve grown?