Swara stretched, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and stepped out into the bright morning sun. Many of the villagers were already up and moving about. An old woman smiled as she passed. Swara headed for the center of the village where she found Ragini, Kavya, and Cheif Rajat. The Chief was telling a hunting story, but he stopped as Swara neared and smiled to her.
“Good morning, Apawiwicicala,” the Chief said. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes I did,” Swara said. “What did you call me?”
“Apawiwicicala,” Kavya said. “It’s your Indian name. It means ‘Sun Girl’.”
“Your hair is as bright as the sun,” Cheif Rajat said.
“I’m Mioiya, which means ‘Seeing Rocks’,” Kavya said. “It’s because of my glasses.”
“I’m Sicahowayaceta,” Ragini said. “It has something to do loud talking.”
Kavya giggled. “It means ‘Screaming Hawk’.”
Ragini rolled her eyes. “Well, it is longer than both your names, and much harder to say.”
“Your names carry great honor here,” the Chief said. “You are part of our tribe and are welcome in our village.”
“Thank you, Chief,” Swara said. “But we should be heading home now.”
They circled through the village and said goodbye to each of the people. It was an honor to be considered a member of Cheif Rajat’s tribe. Once they said their goodbyes, the Chief walked with them back to the dreaming place. The girls stood together on the land that would one day be covered by the garage in Swara’s backyard. The Chief smiled at them and raised his hand in farewell.
“I hope to see you again soon,” he said.
A bright light seemed to burst from the Chief’s chest. It was so bright, the girls had to cover their eyes. When they lowered their hands, they were standing in the garage. The door to the garage was opened and bright sunlight was streaming through from outside. A figure stepped from the light and into the garage.
“What are you girls doing?” Swara’s mom asked.
The girls rubbed their eyes sheepishly.
“We were just playing house,” Kavya said.
Swara and Ragini nodded in agreement. Mom looked around the dark, dusty garage.
“This place is so dusty,” she said. “You girls should play outside.” She waved them out the door. “It’s such a beautiful day.”
The girls ran out of the garage and headed for the swings.
“That was so awesome,” Kavya said.
“No kidding,” Ragini said. “We need to go back there again especially since no one here will even know we left.”
“Yep,” Swara said. “We will go back again soon.”
However, all three girls got very busy with school and their friends, and it was a few weeks before Swara went back to the garage. On the way home from school, she was thinking about Cheif Rajat and his people. Kavya and Ragini had to go home, but she decided she would visit the tribe and maybe spend the night. As she reached the house, she saw the garage door was open, and the bicycle and a few boxes were sitting on the lawn outside. Swara remembered how her mom said the garage was dirty. She dropped her backpack and ran.
When she reached the open door, she peeked inside the garage. The light was on, and the floor was clean. There was not a single bit of dust visible. Even the old couch was dusted. Swara’s heart sank as her eyes scanned the spotless interior of the garage. Her mom appeared carrying a large sack of garbage.
“Oh hi, Swara,” she said. “I finally decided this garage needed a thorough cleaning.”
Swara eyed the garbage bag in her mom’s hands as she walked past on her way out of the garage.
“Where are you going with that, Mom?” Swara asked.
“To throw it away,” Mom said.
“I can get that for you,” Swara said. She ran to catch up with her mother and reached for the sack. Mom held the sack up out of Swara’s reach.
“It has a hole in it,” she said. “Thank you for offering, but I have it.” Mom headed for the big garbage can Dust was leaking from the hole in the bag and leaving a trail on the ground behind her. Swara gasped and ran after her mother
“The bag is leaking all over, mom. Let me help you with it,” Swara said. She jumped and grabbed the bottom of the garbage sack. Her fingers sunk into the soft plastic of the bag, and opened another hole in the bottom. Dust and dirt fell all over Swara’s head.
“Swara!” Mom said. She pulled the garbage bag away from Swara, and it ripped open. Dust and dirt fell out onto the drive way. Swara fell to her knees and started pushing the dust into a pile while her mother looked on in confusion. Just then, s gust of wind came up and blew the pile away scattering the dust over the front yard.
“Mom!” Swara cried. “Look what you did!” She tried to shield the pile of dust from the wind, but it curled around her body and blew until there was nothing left of it. Mom gazed down at the empty, torn bag in her hand.
“Óh well, at least the wind is taking care of the mess.”
Swara gazed up at her mother with tears in her eyes. “I’ll never see them again.” She turned and ran into the house.
Mom sighed. “Goodness! All that fuss over a little dirt?”
The next day was Saturday, and Kavya, and Ragini came over. They stood in the darkened garage for hours calling for Cheif Rajat, but he didn’t show. They even grabbed some dirt from the garden outside and spread it over the floor, but no matter what, they could not get the Chief to reappear. Finally, they gave up and Kavya and Ragini went home. Swara tried several more times over the next few weeks to see if she could get the Chief to reappear, but she never saw him again.