OGINALII is Cherokee for My Friend Like Horse is to My Heart

Stephanie M Sellers

“You think she’s watching us?” Exilee whispers real soft-like to Yellow Cat as they sit down on the piano bench under her momma’s picture. Yellow Cat bumps her purring head to the young girl’s chin then leaps from her lap to the height of the piano.

Exilee sighs. “I don’t feel her anymore,” she whispers. “Like when she used to catch me with extra pie or that time with the green snake in the jar. I’ve even jumped off the shed a couple of times just to see if I could feel worried about getting caught. And I don’t.”

They sit studying her momma’s picture. Exilee eases the bologna slice from the coffee cup’s saucer and ruffles the edges with tiny bites as Yellow Cat listens to her teeth tattle. Yellow Cat’s ears rear back and the very end of her tail flicks, once, in wait of her invitation to share the bologna slice.

“Don’t give up, Exilee. There will be a sign.” Yellow Cat turns around to face her, reclines and halfway closes her enchanting eyes. “Love never leaves you, Exilee. I really believe that.”

“Wow.” Exilee’s brown eyes liquefy as she returns the slice to the plate. “I want to believe that, more than anything.” She loosens a thick strand of her long black curly hair from its braid and twists it, like her momma used to do and sits spellbound by her momma’s reflection.

The picture hangs over the piano as a gorgeous reflection of an awful war in the early eighteenth century. Only red and black blood can make that kind of pretty. That’s how her White daddy explains things. But her momma’s reflection really goes back much further, according to what her momma told her in secret on her last day.

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