Nicola White Feather
Nicola White-Feather stepped wearily from the bus.
She’d arrived home after an exhausting long haul from London. First the cramped, stuffy plane full of travellers anxious to return to the States. And then the coach out of New York, 22 hours to South Dakota, before switching to the little country bus that dropped her here, on the outskirts of a small, dusty town she called home.
Nicola stood alone on the dirt road, not a soul in sight. First, she slipped off one red heel and then the other. In slow motion she felt the red earth rise to meet her as she fell face down on the ground.
Finally, the tears came. Heaving sobs racked her body as she lay there gasping for air. Tears, snot and red dirt smeared her face.
Nicola sat up on the bare earth. Her city dress filthy from her travel, knees covered in dirt, her long, black hair wild and loose, her spirit elated.
Unbelievable! She was finally home. At first, London excited her, but the ongoing global pandemic had taken its toll in many ways. Yes, there had been windows of opportunity to fly home, but she missed every one of them as international flights open and closed at will.
She loved her job as a researcher for one of London’s top art history museums. Stimulating and challenging, the work satisfied Nicola’s obsession with ancient culture. She didn’t mind the long months working from home during the pandemic years.
But something deep within called her. It started as a whisper slowly gnawing away till she could no longer ignore pains in her chest. She felt heart-sore for home. London had lost its shine.
Born Aponi White-Feather on the Southern Dakota plains, she changed her first name to Nicola on arrival in London. She wanted to half fit in with the crowd, to be accepted as one of them.
Five years on, now in her early 30’s, Nicola transformed her identity once again, this time on the Trans-Atlantic flight home. She reverted to her namesake, ‘Aponi’ which meant ‘butterfly’ in her native tongue.
Barefoot and carrying her red heels in one hand while pulling a heavy suitcase on wheels in the other, Aponi trudged along the dusty road. Still, no one in sight.
With each step she could feel her spirit begin to soar. First, she would stop at the general store and then make her way out to the reservation.
A light breeze blew a tumbleweed across her path. She stopped, lifted her arm high into the air and with a joyous cry, threw her red heels into the scrub.
With infinite grace, a magnificent Bald eagle in her chest took flight!