It was grey the first day we walked. Our spirits had burned with our crops, and there was nothing left for us but to let the soldiers herd us like sheep. There was much wailing as we left our home.
By the fifth day, our moccasins had worn through and each step stung with the cold. The ground turned the color of rust as we walked.
Some people tried to run on the sixth night, but they must have been too slow. I flinched at the gunshots, but we knew better than to scream. There were soldiers everywhere.
After the tenth day, coyotes and crows started following us. We couldn’t sleep for the howling.
Mama stopped walking on the twelfth day. I tried to pull her off the frozen ground but her eyes glazed and she only said no. Then there was a gun in my face and I kept walking. I looked back, but she did not see me anymore.
I had no more tears left to cry for my mother. There was only wool left inside me. The whole world was wool.
When we came to the new land on the eighteenth day, there was no rejoicing that the journey was over. There was only quietness as we bound our feet with cloth and made our fires. The new land was not home.
It wasn’t really vacation. Sure, we were missing school, but we still had to do all the homework. We stayed in the hotel room, my brother and me, while Mom and Dad worked at their music residency. We did get to go with them to the school one day, but I didn’t gain much from it. It was just like any other school, except that everyone was Navajo, or Diné, as we learned to say. I interviewed a couple of them for my school newspaper.
My favorite part of the trip was the car rides. I could see why the Diné considered their homeland sacred. I took pictures out the window of the endless skies and the little houses dwarfed by the plateaus and expansive flatlands. We hiked in Canyon de Chelly, too, which was pretty.
Funny thing about the Diné, they let their horses and dogs roam free, because sometimes they can’t feed them.
We left on the sixth day, and I looked back while my parents drove. They pointed out the stretch of road where that scene from Forrest Gump was filmed. The sun was setting behind the rock formations in Monument Valley, and it was such a beautiful and such a melancholy moment all at once, and I wasn’t sure why.
I feel like I somehow missed something important.