Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Nineteen
26th November 1975
“Yes Aunt Tilde” Monique said as she trooped up the stairs with a heavy box in her arms. For people who were supposedly retired, her grandfather and great aunt were surprisingly active in the community. They thought that it was wonderful that they had someone young like her to help out.
Monique had also learned that arguing with her grandfather’s sisters was completely pointless. At best, the three of them would form a united front against her. Most of the time though, the disagreements they had with each other came to the fore. As Monique found out, when that happened she was a just another voice in the argument and because she was a niece she could be completely disregarded. She still wasn’t sure if that was family dynamic or cultural. Monique’s great aunts had never been particularly clear on that.
Setting the box down where it fit in what had once been a spare bedroom, Monique looked at the frightful jumble that probably had had accumulated over the last few decades which her grandfather a rotating number of his sisters had lived in this house. She knew better than to mention it to anyone unless she fancied clearing it out herself. Sooner or later, Tilde was going to want exactly that, but Monique was in no hurry.
Walking back down the stairs, Monique saw her grandfather and Tilde sitting at the table. A map was spread out on the table, and they were looking at it intently. From the looks of it, it was one of those places in the world that was so remote that the surveyor had just drawn straight lines. They were talking in that strange language that Monique still couldn’t understand more than every third word after a year. She had grown up not far from the border with Lorraine. Despite how much people in Fossoy hated the Boche and those believed to be descended from them, the lure of making money transcended politics. So, Monique had understood German before she had arrived in Flensburg. The language of the Diné was absolutely nothing like French or German.
There were more roads into the Navajo Nation these days, Sjostedt could see that. Still, it was still far from anything else. If they went there, they would spend a great of time going from place to place. Not the least of which was Window Rock where there were many in the Tribal Government curious about what had been going on with Sjostedt and his family over the last several decades. Most of all, he wanted to go to Rock Point, or the Red Valley in Arizona or further north to Mexican Hat across the State Line in Utah. His earliest memories were of those places as he had traveled with his parents and grandfather between the various outposts and encampments in the Mesa desert. That was before his father died and his grandfather had brought them back to Europe.
“We could go in the springtime, before it gets too hot” Tilde said, “That only leaves the question about what we do with the girl?”
“There is no question” Sjostedt replied, “Monee is one of us and I think that it would be good for her to see where she really comes from.”
“Northern France?” Tilde asked.
“An impoverished corner of the world with a people still reeling from a war fought decades ago?” Sjostedt asked in reply, “Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?”
Tilde gave Sjostedt a frown.
Among Sjostedt’s sisters, Tilde was the one who had been the most reluctant to accept Monique into their family. Nina had the exact opposite opinion, while Ilse withheld judgement. She had pointed out that there was family resemblance between him and Monique and that it was up to her to take her place with them. It was typical of the many disagreements that they had had over the years.
Looking up Sjostedt saw Monique looking down the stairs at them. “Why don’t you join us Doli?” He asked. Monique was a bit annoyed when he called her by that pet name, meaning Bluebird, in his opinion it perfectly suited her. It fit perfectly with the connotations of Monique Clara Chanson, a name which translated to “One Clear/Bright Song.” It had probably not been the intention of her mother’s family to give her a name with such a deep meaning, but it was something the Sjostedt had encountered often. People walking around with names that told stories about their families and the history they had lived through, yet totally unaware of that.
Monique sat down in an open chair and was looking at the map of the American South-West with a great deal of curiosity.
“Your aunt and I were just discussing travel arrangements we were making for this spring” Sjostedt said, “I suggested that come along.”
“Arizona?” Monique asked, “Colorado? Like Cowboys and Indians?”
As soon as she said that Monique realized the mistake she had just made. The expression on her face was the one of dismay, the same one that she frequently had when she stepped over a line. Sjostedt could forgive her for that. She was still learning after spending the first fourteen years of her life separated from who she was.
“Definitely Indians” Sjostedt said, “And who’s to say that those things are mutually exclusive, though herding sheep is a bigger deal than cattle?”
The look on Monique’s face went back to curiosity. It seemed that Sjostedt’s answer had shifted her thinking, which was good.