“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I stared out the window as my dad slowed the car. “We are not staying out here.”
He stopped the car and got out. “Angel, please. Do not give me grief. I’m tired. I need a bed. This place is as good as any.”
He must be kidding. I did not want to spend my weekend in a rundown motel that decided to encroach upon Native American soil. A place that could have held its own in any horror movie flick. We were so not staying here. I grabbed my cell phone, intent on calling my best friend. No signal. Great. I was stuck in the land of the lost with no cell service.
My dad popped the trunk and started unloading the bags. We weren’t going anywhere for at least ten hours. He’d want to eat and get some sleep before hitting the road again. I got out of the car and slung my backpack over one shoulder and zipped up my hoodie, waiting for dear old dad to lead the way. A wind gust came out of nowhere, blowing my hair in the breeze.
“Angeni, you’ve come home.”
I spun around, looking for whoever spoke the words. All I found was a vast desert sprawling out in every direction, the motel, and the lone teepee. Maybe it was a tourist attraction. Instinct and years of dealing with ghosts told me otherwise. This place was sacred ground and we had no business being here.
“Dad, can we go? Pl-Please?” My teeth began to chatter. It was the middle of summer and still I shivered.
“Hun, there is no other place for miles. Why not this place?” He stopped and looked at me. “Just a few hours so I can get enough sleep to not feel as if I am endangering us both. I promise. Now go on in and see if they have a room.”
He didn’t understand, just knew that I had a journey to take. One my mom couldn’t finish. She heard the spirits of the dead. Heard them calling to her. She’d first heard them when she was pregnant with me. Me? Since birth. Now we were here at a place crawling with spirits. I was scared, but also curious, so I did as my dad asked and headed into the motel. An old man sat behind the counter. His hair was long and dark. Skin weathered by the sun. His pale blue eyes hopeful.
“We’ve been waiting for you, Angeni, daughter of Tehya.” The man’s voice was strong and full of conviction as he spoke my Native American name.
“How did you know my mom’s name?” I looked around for any indication I’d been here before. Nothing stuck out. But I felt at ease for the first time in my life.
“Because she was one of us. She left this world because the voices were too much. They all left because the voices were too much. You—“ The man stared at me and I shifted slightly. “You are the star that will guide them home.”
“How? I’m only fifteen. I know very little of my mom’s heritage.”
“Most of our tribe has long gone. Abandoned our way of life.” He smiled then. “But the spirits know you are here. They will guide you.”
“Angel, who are you talking to?” My father dropped a bag and reached out to me. Fear in his eyes. “It’s happening again?”
I looked at the space behind the counter, covered in dust and vacant. The bell on the counter rusted. The door leading to an area behind the counter hung loose on its hinges. My breath formed small pockets of steam before me. I nodded slowly then.
“Should’ve kept driving.” My dad hated when the spirits called to me.
I sank into the chair along the far wall by the dirty window. A thick layer of dust was thrown into the air and settled in around me. “Should’ve, but now I have to help them go home.”
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