Crumbling House Ruins

Johnny Rustywire

Sometimes I think about that place not far from Newcomb. The last night before we left for boarding school, summer had come and gone and it was the last day at home.

She was from a place not far from Crumbling House Ruins.

She stood there with long hair, eyes soft and brown.

“I’ve been waiting for you a while,” she said.

She filled my dreams. Her lips were soft and ripe like a watermelon.

She came into my life when she got off the bus from school. The Greyhound bus dropped everybody off in the parking lot in front of the store---it’s really an old trading post.

A long Greyhound pulled up and she got off not so long ago--I can’t remember exactly when—maybe the first of June. She was from the rez, just over there by Crumbling House Ruins, a stone’s throw away from Newcomb. Just west of there.

After that, we talked from time to time and I learned about her. It happens like that a day at a time, moment by moment, word by word.

We had a chance to learn about life and plain things. She gave me her time and her smile. Her skin was bronzed by the sun from walking through all that sage. I remember her standing there—far off but yet so near I could hear her breathe.

“I am no good,” I told her. She laughed.

“I‘m going to leave tomorrow to go up north—up there to Intermountain—that school far away.”

“You will be back…I know you will.”

We shared so much and yet so little. How would it be to climb tall red rocks, to lie in the shade of a juniper tree, to bathe in cool spring waters from the mountain? To cast a dream together in the clouds way up high?

Coming from far off and being just right there. Tasting life, and a little about how to feel when someone comes into your life. You take it a day at a time and then the sun sets and the cold winds blow.

In the end, I knew I would be leaving and she was staying behind to ride the bus up the thin narrow road to Shiprock to go to school. She was needed at home.

I didn’t want to stay. The world was waiting for me. So I cut myself off from feeling, to face forward, to study, to read, to work and to sleep. To wake up and do it again.

I told myself it was just a hope, a dream that will not be, so I have to go on from here alone…and so it goes.

In the end, I didn’t see her cry.

“I am no good,” I told her. And she laughed. I have nothing to say. It’s just the way I am. When the summer is over again, I will leave and not come back. I am no good and she knows now it was true.

We sat there at a high place near Two Gray Hills and watched the stars go by and saw the dawn of a new day. I got my things and she walked with me to the trading post.

The Greyhound was there. Loaded and ready to go.

I wished her well and said, “I am no good.” But she said, “I will wait for you…and watch the snow fly till Spring. I will come and wait for this bus.”

I felt bad about it all but there was nothing else to say. She came with me and then she cried---oh, how she cried---and I just turned and walked away. Not seeing.

“I am no good,” I told her, and she laughed. I left and never saw her again and sometimes I think about the girl from over by Crumbling House Ruins and I wonder where she is.

But that is how it goes on the rez sometimes…

Johnny Rustywire is Folded Rocks Clan People on his mother’s side, and born for Tsinahbiltnii, the Mountain People Clan on his father’s side. He comes from Toadlena-Two Gray Hills, New Mexico, where the mountain is cracked and the water flows. He is a father of six and grandfather of 12. He attended Indian boarding schools and grew up on the Navajo Reservation, and has been married to the same woman for 40 years, a Ute from Fort Duchesne, Utah.

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