The next morning by the time Aisling wake up. Astila had already left for work. She knows that it would be much more convenient for him to stay at the house that was being provided for him. It was within walking distance of the hospital. She missed him this morning. She is surprised when she goes to the kitchen to get everyone breakfast that all except Salali is gone.
" the uncles went to get material to build the sweat lodge. He Jin went to your sisters. She wanted to explain what is going on and spend some time with them in their home. Salali already had breakfast ready.
" I'm sorry I wasn't up to get your breakfast ready. Did you find everything ok." Aisling sits at the table after getting a cup of coffee. Wondering what she must think of her after last night. Her cheeks turn red at the thought of them being able to see them from the house. As if knowing what she was thinking.
"Don't stress about last night. Just like He Jin said all we could see was the two of you kissing if it went any further than that we couldn't see. You guys were too far away. Personally, I'm happy for my brother. He has never shown much interest in women only in studying and working. Though I was surprised that the two of you had met before and didn't realize it." Salali looks at her with curiosity wondering if she would tell her about it.
" When I was 16 I went to stay with my uncle in Texas. He is my hero you know Everyman I even think I might like. Has to measure up to him. Well, my Pentecostal grandfather was a very spiritual man he believed everything the Bible says and lived it. I remember that there were times in church where he would pray and handle snakes. Not like black or Gardner snakes. They were always copperheads. So I have never been afraid of snakes. So when I saw a snakeskin I knew there were snakes close by. I went looking for them. I wanted to catch one just like it here. Well, it was such a pretty snake bright colored stripes on it when I got close enough to grab it and lock it head it raised up to strike. That's when Astila locked its jaws and grabbed it. If it had stayed still just a few more seconds I would have been able to catch it. But it was poised to strike my face and he was quicker than me. If he hadn't grabbed it I would have died. He saved me. I was so embarrassed that my attempt at handling a snake failed that I ran away and sat in the truck for the rest of the day." Aisling sips her coffee and only nibbles on a piece of toast with homemade apple butter. Salali giggles at the look on her face.
" How can you still be so embarrassed after all this time. If your uncle hadn't said anything my thick-skulled brother may have never remembered. You know that this is just another sign that you guys are meant to be together. Now tell me about the medicine man while we are alone. " she ruffles Aisling's hair like she is a child.
" well, I was about 7 we were at the river it a deep area. It's where we put boats in the water. We were jumping in the river off of a branch over the water. I got startled by something I don't remember now. I fell hitting my head against something as I went into the water. I only remember going into the water and this old Indian man carrying me out. No one saw him but me. After that, I would see him around the yard. At first, he didn't talk to me than after my great grandmother died. He started talking to me when I would walk to the bus stop or when I would be alone in the garden. He started telling me about the plants around me and what they did. When I would have severe cramps and would be sick he sent a woman to see me she told me what tea to drink to help and that during this time I needed to stay away from others especially men. As I got older I realized they were spirits and to be careful who I told about them. That person especially my Pentecost family they began to believe I was possessed and needed an exorcism. He even followed me to Texas. He showed me where the snakes were that day. " Aisling knee she sounded crazy but she didn't want to deny or lie to her. Especially if she was going to help Inola. The girls finished eating and Aisling asked Salali if she would like to go check out the creek to make sure that it is what Inola is looking for. She was excited to see the area. They set off down the path picking up the basket along the way. They had to walk along the area of the overgrown woods. Salali walked on the side of the cursed land. Not wanting to have Aisling right beside it incase it stirred the spirits. When they came upon the clearing. Onacona was there with the older woman. Aisling nodded to them before taking the blanket from the basket. She spreads it on the ground next to the creek pulling out her small bowls she goes to the waterfall to fill them. Placing the bowls in a circle with a stone bowl in the center. In the center bowl, she places palo santo and some cedar chips. she takes a sprig of rosemary and places a few pieces in each bowl along with lavender and sage. Lighting the bowl of palo santo she motions for Salali to sit with her.
" This is where I was thinking the sweat lodge could go. I think it is beautiful here and peaceful. " Aisling wonders if Salali knows that the spirits are here as well.
" Why did you do this?" pointing at the bowls.
" I don't know I love the fragrance of lavender and sage. Palo santo purifies as sage does. Rosemary protects I have no idea except that onacona smiled at me the first time I did it when I was around 13 so I have done it ever since. I don't know anything about witchcraft and such. I have just always been drawn to these herbs and certain stones. I remember my great grandmother would boil sage whenever there was a lot of negativity. She told me that she wouldn't burn it because she didn't want anyone to accuse her of witchcraft. I love the smell of burning sage. Luckily for me most just ignore what I do. Whereas with her she was a deacon's wife so she had to be even more careful about what others thought. I don't do spells but I do pray a lot. Astila says he wants you to teach me what is right and what is wrong." Aisling is laying on her back looking at the sun through the trees. It's light casting shadows on the ground.
" I can teach you what I have been taught. But I think some of what you know has come from your European grandmother as well. You are not just Cherokee you are also basic for me to tell you that something is wrong I would not know. So far you have done nothing that makes me uncomfortable or anything that brings a negative feeling. A lot of what you do seems to be what you have melded together from both that is not wrong . Inola will be the one to teach you the most. He will know if you are doing something to invoke evil in any way. " Salali sighs with contentment and closes her eyes while letting the smells coast her to sleep.
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