How I Became Bravewarrior
How I Became Bravewarrior
I actually wrote this as a short story. It came to me at the spur of the moment, as do all I write. I must mention, this is not fiction; it's true. Pursuant to my writing it, I asked my brother and a few select friends to read it and the response was resounding: it's not a short story, it's the prelude to a novel. This inspired me to do so, although it's going to take some time. However, I thought I'd share this and get feedback from the HubPages Community, of whom I've grown to respect and love. Please let me know your thoughts.....
The year is 1966 and I’m 9 years old. My best friend’s name is Imagination. Up ‘til now, I was an Air Force Brat, never living in one town or one state, for that matter, long enough to make friends. When I did, it hurt too much upon parting. So I went into myself and became my own best friend.
There was an empty lot across the street from where we lived in Philly. We called it Michaud’s. Judging from the slate slab in the center of the lot and the broken pieces strewn throughout, a family named Michaud must have lived there at one time, losing their home (and perhaps their lives?) to fire. All that was left was slate, blackberry trees, honeysuckle bushes and the best tree-climbing trees I’d ever encountered.
Once a year, the carnival would come to town and park itself in our beloved Michaud’s playground. It came to life, albeit a different life, with color, laughter and carnival music, but it wasn’t as memorable as what Michaud’s was to me then, and today, in the “favorites” of my memory bank.
Michaud’s was a setting for mystery, wonder and imagination. There were concrete steps, directly across the street from our row house, leading up the hill to the mystique of Michaud’s. On either side of the steps were brambles of blackberry bushes. Directly to the left, beyond the brambles, was a huge blackberry tree, with limbs so heavy with fruit, I could reach them without standing on my tippy toes. The bramble on the left, nestled at the bottom of the hill, became a ground fort for my brother and me. More importantly, it was where I’d transform into a Cherokee warrior or a squaw, depending on who I felt that day.
My brother and I have Cherokee blood coursing through our veins – not a lot – but enough that the spirit has guided me throughout my life. And his.
Upon reaching the final ascent, the mystical world of Michaud’s opened up to a vast playground for my imagination. Directly to the right, was a chain link fence defining the property line of a vast, grassy, treed landscape at the rear of an insurance building’s property. We called it “the insurance lot”. We’d have “rumbles” there, where basically you’d tackle and be tackled - without benefit of a football, climb trees and play hide n seek. The fence was trellised with sweet, wild honeysuckle bushes, from which we drank often.
Directly in the center of Michaud’s was a huge gray slate slab, thought to have been the foundation of a once thriving home. Leading up to what I imagined to have been the kitchen, were red square pavers. On the far left of the property were huge trees where the “bad boys” of the neighborhood built a formidable tree house. You had to be invited – don’t dare let anyone catch you helping yourself to the view, or you’d pay dearly!
Adjacent to the far left of the property, and at the bottom of the hill, was a concrete wall; backdrop to the Iroquois Apartment building. It was there I spent many hours playing handball and pitching pennies.
Looking straight ahead, at the forefront of the property (or perhaps it was the rear?) was City Line Avenue, a four lane road dividing Philly from Bala Cynwyd. We once had a German Shepard lose her life on that road, but our parents never worried about us, because Michaud’s had us captivated!
So, now you can imagine the layout. Let’s go back to Michaud’s where the magic of my imagination came to life.
I was full of spirit as a young girl; mostly ornery, but spirited nonetheless. I’ve mentioned that my brother and I are part Cherokee. Although not full blood, it courses through our souls and is what guides our creativity.
Mine knew no gender. One day I’d be a warrior pounding out war paint from blackberries, onto a slab of slate. When I had a substantial amount, I’d paint my face in preparation of battling the elements as “Bravewarrior”.
On another day, I’d form a bowl out of the blackberry brambles, line it with leaves, and use a broken piece of slate to pound out the day’s meal, as a Cherokee squaw.
No matter whom I chose to be, more times than not, it entailed blackberries, slate, and the magic of Michaud’s.
Some days, I’d imagine myself to be a gold miner. I’d climb the stairs to Michaud’s, grab a piece of slate, then descend the stairs in my search for gold. It was to be found on the lower wall of our row house, surrounding the basement level. The front of the basement was hidden underground, while the rear, which was at alley level, was encased in huge textured stone to help keep the structure safe in the event of snow drifts. I don’t know what kind of stone it was, but it had flakes of gold and silver throughout. There was a set of green wrought iron stairs leading up to a landing at the kitchen door. The area underneath served as the “cave” in which I mined for gold. I’d imagine myself wearing a wide brimmed brown leather hat, a leather coat and leather pants. I’d take my piece of slate and scrape the stone, releasing metal flakes into the palm of my hand, then round the corner and head back up the stairs to my favorite spot in Michaud’s, where my imagination would and did take me on many journeys.
As a gold miner, I’d craft another bowl out of the blackberry brambles, then set about the task of carefully sifting the flakes of gold and silver from the loosened stone. Then I’d moisten the ball of my finger and separate the gold and silver into two piles. These I would offer in trade to Bravewarrior, into whom I’d once more transform.
By now you may assume I had no human friends. I did – I preferred my imagination over the bickering and jealousy that little girls seem to thrive upon. As the keeper of my imagination, I was free to be who I wanted to be and travel short distances into long ago times.
In retrospect, it must have been the peace, mystique and magic of Michaud’s that has carried me forth into adulthood, bearing the magic of writing and the power of the mind to travel as only a good writer can transcend.
To this day, in the year 2011, some 45 years later, Michaud’s still exists, untainted by Man or machine.
I don’t know if anyone really knows the story behind the mystical lot with the slate foundation, but my imagination tells me there’s a connection between the naming of Iroquois Apartments and that magical place.
Some kids were afraid of Michaud’s back in 1966, but it’s where my soul came to life.
I hope 45 years from now another inspired child is compelled to share his or her story and keep the spirit alive.
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
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