If Only

Growing up is hard enough when you have help, how do you get it right alone? You try to find your own answers and you do not quit.

It was getting dark and everyone was in a hurry to get started, big celebration, and a good hunt had everyone happy, almost. I am not afraid, I will be a man in this modern world where people eat at the same place and share food. No one will go hungry tonight, except me. I could eat but it might slow me down and I will be sharp tonight. The party has started and everyone is having fun, almost. I will have fun later.

It is time, I see dad coming over the hill, sorta. Our village is close to the water and it helps when you have to carry those leaky buckets full of water. I can almost make it with a half full bucket now. Someday I will be the one with the full buckets of water and they won’t feel like the weight stones take when they are too heavy for you.

Dad would be all dressed up, he never smiles anyway. He walks into the woods and slowly I follow. I will come back a man, maybe, or I will not come back. The moon is full but I won’t be able to see it because of the blindfold. I don’t know where I am but I climb up on the cold rock and wait. A man would be able to sit without moving until the sun sends the moon away, for a little while. Be proud of me dad, I will not move.

The sounds are pretty scary but the wind is the worst, it touches you and laughs. I wish they didn’t teach me time in my head. Sure do wish it was really a few hours that had passed and not the couple of minutes I knew it to be. So I waited and the fear and sounds just make me more resolute in my task.

I don’t know what kind of animal it was but it sure felt big, real large and bad smell, like rotten flesh. I listened as it noticed me and started to snort and growl. I started shaking so bad I was afraid I would fall of the rock. I will not move. Suddenly it was gone, don’t know why it left but I bet it was not afraid of me, yet.

I felt the sun warming my back before I chanced taking off the blindfold. As the sun poured into my still blind eyes I knew, I am a man. I did what I did not think I could. Just as I was about to let out a victory scream and run home, I saw dad, standing exactly where he was when I put on the mask. He had not moved either, I had never been alone because he was always with me. He smiled.

I know that is what my dad would have done. I only wish I had got to meet him once in my life so I could show him my kids and he would know, I will be standing there when they remove their masks too.
Wado (cherokee word for thank you).

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