Sand-dancer — 8 of 48

Aaron Reed and Alexei Othenin-Girard

Release 7

Section - Memory Collection

The last day of high school is a memory with indefinite article "the". It is suggested by the weather-worn guidebook. The description is "You didn't expect it was going to be your last day. But that morning you got called in to the principal's office and fat bald Mr. Cox and pissy old Mrs. Burke were there, and they looked kind of like strong animals stalking weak animals, and you knew something bad was up.

Cox said I have here, Mr. Morales (a bad start since you hate that name) a test you took last week in Mrs. Burke's sophomore English class. Questions have been raised (he looked up at Mrs. Burke like he was trying to pass the buck) questions have been raised about the quality of your essay, and whether a student with your academic and behavioral record (he scratched his bloated nose meaningfully) could have plausibly produced such an essay, and you get the idea. They thought you cheated.

No. They knew you cheated, deep in their smug empty hearts. They wanted you to admit it, say you were a cheater and a liar. But you weren't. You wrote that essay, every god damn word, because you really really liked the book for once and wanted to show Mrs. Burke that maybe if they gave people better books to read kids would actually learn something. But they wanted a confession. They wanted a thieving example they could parade in front of the school. Someone of your academic and behavioral and economic and racial background and yeah, screw this shit. So you got up and left and never came back. Drop out, hell. You walked out and you'd do it again."

The player carries a wallet. The wallet is closed and openable. In the wallet is a driver's license and a receipt from Big Jimmy's. The receipt suggests your shit job. The description of driver's license is "When the highway patrol pulls you over they see your kind of crazy uncombed hair (morning), your brown name (Nakaibito Morales) and brown skin (actually more kinda tan), your D.O.B. (eighteen years ago just barely) and tribal affiliation card (expired) and assume you're either some kind of native eco-terrorist, illegal drug-running border jumper, or delinquent high school dropout (all lies except for kinda maybe the last one a little). Unless it's Jimmy Kay who pulled you over since he usually just wants to buy you a beer and talk about your dad, which is weird but better than getting a ticket."

Your shit job is a memory with description "Juza straddles the 371 like a drunk at last call, smelly and without a plan for the future. Shiny cars whiz by at ninety once in a while, only stopping for gas or directions (hint: not this way). No one ever stops for the stalls selling food and jewelry and blankets and cheap t-shirts that cluster around the dirt turn-off onto the rez. At least, no one buying anything.

Big Jimmy shook his head when he heard you lived in Oro Oeste. Hell of a drive, kid, he said, popping up his Lumberjacks cap to scratch the straw pate underneath. You should get a place in Hoo-zuh. Little Jimmy'll set you up in that trailer cross the road for almost nothin['].

Almost nothing. Yeah, exactly what you'd turn into on the cold day in hell you move to Juza. But on the other hand, that was before you met Ocean. Now the road back to Oro Oeste seems longer and longer every night."

A piece of jade is in pickup truck. A memory called grandma's stories is suggested by the piece of jade. The description of the jade is "Grandma said it will bring you luck, which hasn't really been working out. You can't remember now how it ended up in your pickup truck. Maybe someday you'll see someone lucky and you can throw it at him."

The description of grandma's stories is "There are dark spirits who roam the earth, little Knock. Grandma used to say that, holding you tight and stroking your hair. There are dark spirits who roam the earth, but you're not alone. Oh, no. I'm here. (She'd kiss your head and you'd squeeze her back.) But others are watching out for you too. You have three animal guardians, hmm? Spirits who are always watching over you. Oh, you can't always trust them to know what's best. Remember that, Knock. But when you need help, they'll come, and protect you from the worser things in the world.

Mom would yell at Grandma a lot for filling your head with that new-age bullshit. Grandma grew up white and midwestern and Baptist, but had started wearing things with feathers and playing the pan flute by the time you were born. She seemed to really like having a son-in-law who was Native American or American Indian or Indigenous Peoples or whatever she'd decided the term was that week, and she was pretty pissed when mom left him. Anyway. Her stories were mostly BS, you guess, but some of them stuck with you. When it's dark you still wonder if your spirit animals are out there somewhere, and what the hell is taking them so long to find you."

The rusted key suggests a memory called meeting Ocean. The description of meeting Ocean is "She was buying a Fresca at Big Jimmy's when you got off your shift, shoving work keys in your pocket, and you stood behind her waiting to get some cigs, almost too tired to notice how cute she was but still noticing, yeah, still noticing.

She turned around and caught you noticing and you were pretty embarrassed and covered in sweat and grease from the garage, so you stepped up and bought some Camels and were pretty surprised she was still there when you turned around.

She told you her name was Ocean Running Deer and she lived on the rez and you told her your name was Nakaibito Morales and you lived in Oro Oeste. She said isn't Nakaibito the name of a town way off west and you told her your mom had picked it off a map because it sounded like a good Indian name. You never tell anyone that story but for some reason you told her. She laughed, sweetly though, and said maybe the two of you should go there sometime and see what it was like. Somehow two weeks later you were dating although you never ended up going to Nakaibito.

And now... no, you can't think about that yet."

The bunny's bow tie suggests a memory called her graduation night. Understand "Ocean's/Oceans" as her graduation night. Instead of doing anything to the bunny's bow tie: say "It's just a few lines on a silhouette." The description of her graduation night is "She grinned when you picked her up, and you drove on in to Mike's and the lot was filled with trucks and Mike's was filled with Indian guys and Indian girls and she was still the most beautiful, and you danced a lot and drank some and left early to go lie down under the stars and count the shooting ones.

And that was maybe you think the first time she said she loved you, and you said it back cause it felt all right and shit, but you didn't really know if you meant it, or if she did, or what it even really means. I mean you like Ocean a lot, really a lot, but then you also aren't really sure you even know her, anything about her that's important or real or meaningful. She could be anyone, really, on the inside. So could you."

[Exercise 6.4]A lingering smell of orange is an undescribed thing. It suggests Ocean's perfume. Before taking cans of food when player holds can opener and player holds luck: move lingering smell of orange to location.

Ocean's perfume is a memory with description "You used to like it. The perfume. But you like how Ocean smells without it better, but she doesn't believe you. She says girls are supposed to smell sweet, like oranges and rose petals. But you've always liked bitter fruits. Tamarind and lemon.

And sometimes, maybe after a fight or something, you'll drive off and that's all you can smell is her orange perfume. And even after smoking three cigarettes with the windows of your pickup rolled down you can still smell it, and it's still too sweet, and you wonder if this is working out. Because it's such a little pointless thing but it drives you crazy. And if a little thing like perfume is driving you this crazy maybe the whole thing is doomed. Maybe Ocean would be better off with some guy who likes orange perfume.

You don't know what's going to happen now."

The gas can suggests a memory called road trips through the desert. Understand "trip" as road trips through the desert. The description of road trips through the desert is "Always a faint whiff of gas in your truck, even on the highway at midnight with the windows cranked and scorching summer air sending Ocean's hair twisting and curling behind the passenger seat. The two of you driving through the night to visit her aunt in Santa Rosa, about a week before it happened, talking and laughing and sometimes her hand on your leg and sometimes your hand on hers, nothing alive but you and her and the truck and the road and the blackness beyond.

Then all quick she leans forward at a green phantom roadsign and goes hey look, it's the road to Nakaibito! And you have no idea what she's talking about till you remember the story (and that you told her the story) and she says come on, let's go, let's find out what's there. And you're like what, now? And she laughs and says when else? And it's crazy and you tell her it's crazy, it'd be like a four hour drive there and four hours back, totally out of your way and probably for nothing, a couple trailers and broken glass, and you pass the exit and drive on and tease her a little but inside you're thinking, this is why I love her (if I do), that crazy, that what-the-hell let's do something wild and go with it spark, that's Ocean. That's your girl. And maybe you should have done it because now maybe your days of crazy gambling road trips are over, and maybe you'll never find out what's in Nakaibito or anywhere else." [In the book, we wrote a memory that only appears for players choosing the path of leaving ocean (the scent of oranges); it seems only fair to make one only for players on the other path.]

The ultrasound of Ocean's baby [note: the book text is incorrect, the full name of this item needs to be used: "ultrasound of Ocean's baby," since this is the first time this item appears in the source] suggests a memory called when you heard the news. Understand "i/baby/ocean's" as when you heard the news. The description of when you heard the news is "Four weeks ago now, a little colder and a little darker. On a night just like this one except you didn't drive off the road and crash into a cactus, you got off work and drove the state highway in the dark and crossed over the edge of the res to Ocean's dad's trailer, and she told you that night while you were dead exhausted, Knock, I'm pregnant.

And all you could think was how totally not real it seemed, after an hour of blackness and New Mexican night streaming by, bugs exploding in tiny tragedies on your windshield, you just felt like driving on, like this thing was some podunk town you could breeze by, no services, ranch exit only. And you thought of every movie they ever made you watch in school and every lecture and every living example, the drunken uncles and snaggle-toothed coworkers who knocked up their high school sweethearts and started families on minimum wage and no prospects and never went anywhere and never did anything and what did you do? How could this happen? Why were you both so stupid?

Ocean's aunt is paying for the baby but it's been made clear the money stops when the baby's born. Ocean wants to keep it, she's always wanted to be a mommy. But you never thought you'd be a daddy. And when she pushed this into your hand last night she told you, Knock, it's time to decide. If you aren't with me on this, if you don't want this as much as I do, then this can't go on anymore and you should go. Fly. Head west. Find Nakaibito. She smiled just a little and traced your ear.

But decide soon, Knock. Decide soon."

The sage suggests a memory called watching Family Guy. The printed name of watching Family Guy is "watching Family Guy with Karl". Understand "with Karl" as watching Family Guy. The description of watching Family Guy is "Whatcha watchin, Knock? he asked, lurching out of mom's room smelling of sage incense and holding a beer and crashing into the lazyboy, and you said Nothing Mr Morales (and god damn it kid, can't you at least call me Karl if you won't call me dad? but that conversation's been buried a year now at least out loud) and he squinted and said is this that Family Guy crap? I thought your mother said she didn't want you watching this crap (because it's always mother who wants you to do things or be things or say things, never Mr Morales) I thought your mother said you ought to start learning about your culture.

So while Peter is trying to start a rock band or something Karl starts spouting some story about Mexican myths with eagles and feathered serpent gods, and he must be so into the stepdad thing he's forgotten that's his culture, not yours (well, sort of). Not that your real dad or Peter Griffin ever helped you figure out what your culture's supposed to be either. It hits you that your culture must be somewhere in the middle, between Family Guy and Quetzalcoatl, and you start laughing and get grounded because you can't even imagine what the middle between those two could possibly look like.". [Here's an added memory triggered by the smell of sage after the rainstorm, to build up Knock's collection a little more.]