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Fiction by Jane (Cohen) Stinson
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It hadn't been like that when they first came back to the reservation. Joe had been gone for many years and was only an occasional visitor. He was the guy who made it big down in the Twin Cities. But when they came back here to live and built the house out on the lake everything changed. Even the old ladies down at the fort who made bead necklaces and bracelets for the tourists and who had loved Becky at first, began to hear the stories about Joe's house and the twelve-foot leather couch in the living room and the painting studios that were big enough to house whole families. Becky invited people to visit and they did but that only made it worse so she took to hanging out in town for company. With every passing year they were more imprisoned in the beautiful big house on the lake. “You got it made,” Peggy had said to Becky one evening when they were sitting at a table in the bar by themselves. The Vikings were playing the Bears in a Monday night game so the girls were left alone. “Joe's rich, ain't he?” "Yeah, pretty," Becky agreed. “You got that cool house,” she sighed. “I'd do anything for a house like that. How about letting me come and take care of it for you? I'll just find a nice corner where I can sleep. You can paint all day. I'll clean and cook and you won't have to do nothin'.” “Yeah, you'll clean and cook and steal Joe,” Becky said. They laughed. Peggy said it again now as she slid her rounded body onto a stool next to Becky. She shook her long black hair away from her face and fixed Becky with her dark brown eyes. “Let me clean your house,” she pleaded. “I need work real bad. Mom's arthritis is real bad. I got to get her medicine for it.” Becky was silent. She looked away from the intense eyes. “I could shine the floors for you," Peggy said. "Do all the laundry, ironing, even some cooking if you wanted.” Becky considered. Joe probably wouldn't mind the hundred or so a week it would most likely cost. He'd probably think it would be good for Becky to be freed up to work on her own painting. She let her mind float along the path of freedom for a moment, imagining working at the Tree for a whole day unfettered by dirty floors or laundry or cooking. She could see herself in front of her easel, finally freed to be the artist she was meant to be, absorbed in her creation. She would also be free, she realized suddenly, for Joe's passion. The thought worked through her mind. She would be available without excuses to be led at any time to their bed for another bout of sex and another prolonged declaration of love. Her reverie ended as Tommy leaned into her face and seductively moved his hand across her back. “Let's move the party to your place, Beck,” he said. “I got two six-packs in the car. I'll grab them and we'll go party at your place, Beck.” “Come on, Becky,” Peggy urged. “You can show me the house and tell me just the way you want me to do things.”

The Witch Tree - page 9