They were maybe five years old the day they were playing in the doghouse. It didn't belong to any dogs in particular, it was just plywood and nails put together in a way that was perfect for hiding in.
The whole village was quiet except for the wind. The wind was blowing dust in swirls and the trees were swaying. Maybe that's why they chose to play in there, instead of the big tree out front, where they normally played. They must have been looking to hide from the biting sting of the desert sand hitting their bare, brown, ashy legs.
Usually they saw the occasional person walking down the dirt pathway that went right next to Grandma's house. Usually you could tell who it was as they approached, even before you recognized their face. You knew everyone's particular style of walk and without asking, you knew where they were going. Today, it was windy and cold. Today, there was no one.
The two houses on either side of the doghouse were both empty. Everyone must have gone to town or work. It didn't feel like a school day. Maybe they had just ditched them again, to play a the best game of hide and seek ever or kick the can or maybe they were playing at the houses under construction, even though we weren't supposed to. They wouldn't know where they had been all day, until the twilight hours, when the sky turned pink and you could hear moms and grandmas yelling out their doors for the kids to come home or else.
It was stinky in that dog house. There were several matted down blankets full of fur that belonged to dozens of different dogs. None of the dogs had names. They never do. How could anyone keep track of that many dogs? You never know when they're going to run away or get hit by a car or eaten by a coyote. They're only yours until they follow someone else home anyway. Today, no dogs lived there.
He suggested they kiss. She didn't want to. She didn't know how. He got angry and tried to kiss her but the look on her face stopped him. They sat in silence and she wanted to go inside to watch Sesame Street or hopefully Reading Rainbow. She didn't know what time it was. She told him she had to go inside, that her Grandma would be looking for her. He knew no one was home. They sat in silence. She stared as dust particles floated downward, highlighted by the strip of sunlight that was shining through the gaps in the roof of the doghouse.
She said she needed to go to the bathroom. Which suddenly became true. He didn't believe her. He blocked the way out. She didn't know why he wouldn't let her out, but suddenly, she HAD to get out. He told her to take off her clothes. She refused. He told her again. She told him her Daddy would spank her if she did. It was a lie. He tried to tell her that it was okay, but she knew it wasn't. She didn't know what was happening, but she knew she had to get out.
The stale smell of dog and dust was overwhelming. She felt like she was going to throw up. She thought about trying to make herself throw up so he would go away. But he was watching her.
She wondered where everyone was. She kept waiting for someone to come and make him go home.
No one came.
They sat, listening to the wind getting angrier. He was still blocking the only way out.
She told him she really wanted to, but she was scared they would get caught. It was a lie. She told him if her Daddy knew he kissed her he would spank both of them. She hoped it wasn't a lie. Fear started to grow in his eyes. She frantically started to think of more and more lies. She told him again that she wanted to, but she was scared her Daddy would hurt him really, really bad if she had a boyfriend. It was a lie. She wanted her Daddy to hurt him.
They heard the wind whipping around the yard, knocking things down.
She told him it was someone coming and he better run home. She knew it was the wind who had been watching and listening and had finally grown angry enough to intervene. But he believed her.
She watched as he ran home. Her messy, black hair blew in front of her eyes, as if to keep her from seeing him. She saw the back of his head getting smaller and smaller and she knew she wouldn't ever play with him again. She already hated him.
They were maybe five years old.
*Day One of the Native Women's 31-Day May, Writing Challenge.
First challenge: To write for 20 minutes about anything. I lost track of time. My post was inspired by a conversation a good friend of mine and I had regarding violence against women, particularly in Indian Country. On the Warpath Women Poetry