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Assiniboin Girl


Did you lose your peace pipe?”
Her partner-in-crime widened her eyes, and then clapped a hand over her mouth, laughing through her
fingers.
“Oh, I forgot. Squaws don’t have peace pipes, do they?” Cissy sneered, her voice reflecting the relish she
took in this game.
The other girl pointed, nudging her friend. “Hey, Cissy. She’s hurt. Let’s go.”
Mary had always felt that Amber wouldn’t be so cruel to her if it weren’t for the leadership of the other
girl. Grateful to the kinder of the two, more tears threatened.
“No!” Cissy said, shrugging her friend off, eyes hard. “My dad says they don’t feel pain like real people
do. They’re just dirty, stinking Indians.”
Mary shook her head, wanting to clear her ears of the awful things spewing from Cissy’s mouth. She spied
her books lying off to the side and moved to get them.
Cissy stepped out quickly in a blocking move. “Where do you think, you’re going, Red Girl?”
Amber was starting to look a little anxious, and she tugged on her friend’s arm. “Leave her alone, Cissy.
She’s bleeding.”
Mary stared into Cissy’s eyes, afraid. She wanted to defend herself, but as always happened when she got
scared, her brain froze and her mouth dried up. She took a step backwards.
Cissy’s hand shot out, pushing her hard on the shoulder. Mary stumbled backwards, her arms wind milling
to maintain her balance and some of the blood from the gash on her hand splattered onto the blonde girl’s
face.
“Gross!” Cissy wiped the blood off, glaring at her.
Amber was scrabbling in her shoulder bag and came out with a tissue. “Here,” she said, handing it to her
friend.
Taking advantage of the moment, Mary darted around the pair and snatched up her books. Seeing the torn
pages, she groaned. Great. Now she was going to have to pay for them. Holding her injured hand out to
the side, she hurried away, Cissy still screaming at her.
“I’ve probably got AIDS now! I’m going to tell my daddy about this! You wait and see if I don’t!”
The voice seemed to push Mary along, making her feet move quicker and quicker until she was running.
Her house came into sight, and breathing a sigh of relief, she slowed to a walk, her side aching. Pausing at
the side door—the front was only for company—she leaned her head on the cool wood, her shoulders
shuddering as she tried to catch her breath.
The tears gone, Mary examined her hand. Ugh. The glass was still in her palm. Putting the books down,
she gritted her teeth, then wincing, pulled it out. Fresh blood welled, and she wished she had something to
wrap it in.
Walking around to the back of the house, Mary lifted the lid off the plastic trashcan, and tossed the glass
inside. No sense some little kid or animal cutting themselves on it.
The sound of tires on the driveway reached her ears, and she looked up to see Aunt Janet’s car pulling
into the driveway. Mary groaned again, and then hurried back around to the side door. Grabbing her
books, she let herself inside, fumbling awkwardly with her house keys.
“Mary, wait up! You can help me carry some of these groceries ... Mary?”
Janet Two Dogs’ voice followed Mary into the house. Tossing the books on the counter, she turned on the
faucet, letting the water run over the gash. Red swirled on white porcelain to disappear down the drain. In
her mind, she could still hear Cissy’s voice calling her Red Girl.
Her aunt entered the side door in a rustle of paper bags. The faint scent of the perfume she wore filled
Mary’s nose—the same perfume as her mom had worn— and for the second time that day, Mary’s eyes
filled with tears. Her aunt was talking to her, but Mary ignored the words, concentrating on the pain of the
gash to drive away the ghost of her mother.
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