Outtake: Fragility #Renzo #Cree
We’re back for another outtake. I pulled this from the request form, as usual. I want to take a moment to thank my hubby who helped me with some of the details in this outtake, specifically about the medicine wheel.
A Renzo Outtake
He heard Lucia’s call of his name, but couldn’t be bothered to even turn his head to answer it. That would take a great deal of effort that he was neither capable of, nor interested in. Since his release from the hospital, the visitors had been nonstop. Apparently, Renzo had more people who cared about them that he thought.
Not that it mattered.
He didn’t want to see them.
Or maybe …
He didn’t want them to see him like this.
Tremors rocking his once steady hands. Scars from surgeries. Burns still healing. Jumbled in his mind. Words that came out wrong.
Everything was wrong.
He hated it.
Which meant he hated himself, too.
Instead, he found solace in sitting near windows watching the day and life outside the apartment where he’d currently holed himself into. More than one person had pointed out he was likely experiencing some depression, and frankly, they weren’t wrong. It also didn’t make a difference to the fact Renzo had no inspiration or drive to do anything.
Including physical therapy.
Or any of that other shit.
It was tiring.
“Ren,” Lucia called again.
“Yeah, in a minute, babe,” he answered back quietly.
She just sighed.
She never pushed.
He loved her for that.
“He’s like this a lot lately.”
“We’ll see if I can make a difference with that,” came a new, but familiar voice.
“Fucking Cree,” Renzo grumbled.
He didn’t even get the chance to turn around on his chair before Cree had come to stand in front of his seat. Without grace or care, the large man dropped down in the couch opposite to Renzo with a leather satchel landing in his lap. Just as quickly, he picked the bag up and tossed it to the coffee table between them.
A few items spilled out.
Bags of beads.
Yellow. White. Red. Black.
“Is that a stick?” Renzo asked.
“A very flexible stick—I need them when I make medicine wheels.”
Renzo’s brow furrowed, but Cree didn’t seem to mind nor did he apparently have any interest in explaining what he was doing. Leaning forward, he grabbed the satchel and dumped out the remaining contents. The four colored beads came in many sizes. There was quite a bit of brown leather cord. And a few sticks, one of which Cree grabbed along with a leather cord at which he bent into a circle and then began to tie off to keep it that way.
“What are you doing?”
“Making a medicine wheel,” Cree said, “although that’s what the Europeans and Americans named it—we simply adopted it. And I’m doing it because it relaxes my mind, and reminds me what is most important when I work. My father—he came from a small tribe of Indigenous People located on the eastern shore of a Canadian reserve. Maliseet. My mother—she came from the Cree that settled in Quebec.”
“Like your name.”
“Was only meant to be a moniker—it ended up sticking. I got used to it, we'll say.”
Renzo blinked. “So, what is your name?”
Cree continued on from the previous topic like Renzo hadn’t asked a very important question, “Between my parents, they never let me forget where I came from even when for a long time, I did not know if that was who I wanted to be. Not that it mattered, I came to learn, because I cannot change who I am and I learned I didn’t want to.”
Renzo had the strangest urge to reach forward and grab one of the sticks. He held off, but then when Cree noticed his gaze, the man nodded in silent encouragement for him to do so. He did, arm trembling because he just couldn’t stop it anymore. He fumbled with the sticks in his fingers that no longer seemed to cooperate.
“I can’t do anything,” Renzo said.
“You will,” Cree replied simply. “Again, after some time.”
“I don’t want to hear that. I want—”
“To be who you were, but that isn’t who you are, New York. Circumstances change us. Or life. God. Women—in my case, a man. And so, we get the opportunity to be a better version of ourselves with a little time, care, and work.”
Renzo’s jaw tightened, but when Cree held out a long length of leather cord for him to take, he did. “I’ll never be able to get this tied around mine like you did for yours. My hands don’t do what I want them to anymore.”
“Maybe not today,” Cree agreed, “but on another day you will. See, that’s what where the work comes in, Ren. And I know you’re tired and you’re hurting and you feel broken, but none of those things mean you can’t work. Be grateful for your body, for your mind and your life, because there are a great many who cannot even hold the stick and the cord like you are right now. You’re doing something that a week ago, you might not have been able to do at all. So, next week, what else might you be able to do, hmm?”
No one had said it quite like that before. It was always just you need to do physical therapy, Ren or let’s work on your memory.
“You know, you usually drive me crazy,” Renzo said. “I was told by the doctors that you make my blood pressure dangerously high, actually.”
“I still will,” Cree replied, wrapping the cord around the outer perimeter of his wheel. “Whenever I feel it’s needed.”
“Why would that be needed?”
Cree looked up from his work and grinned. “Depends on who needs it—you or me?”
That made Renzo laugh.
He’d not done that in a while.
“What do the colors mean?” he asked.
“Well, first we start with the circle—it means life. The circle of life. Or all things. The thing about the colors is that meaning varies between tribes and nations. Some even use blue or green or purple in leu of black. To me, and to my father who taught me how to make my first medicine wheel shortly before he disappeared, the four colors mean many things and represent many elements. Life. Seasons. Medicine. Spirits. Each color must follow the proper direction—white is east, yellow is south, red is west, and black is the north. It is not indicative of tribe or people, but rather, we start in the east like how the sun rises, and end up in the north where the sun goes down. Same as life; we start as infants, and end up as ancients.”
“Did your father every come back?”
“I eventually found out he had been killed.”
Ren flinched. “I’m sorry about your father.”
“Circle of life,” Cree replied quietly.
“But is it?”
“Sometimes the circle is unfair. Eventually, it also evens out. You should give yours some time to do that for you, and while you wait, work.”
Renzo considered that. “I will.”
“And if you’re going to sit here day in and day out, the least you could do is ask that sweet girl in the kitchen to sit with you. She’s worried, New York. Although why, I don’t know. So, you’re wallowing. You always did that.”
There he was.
“Fuck you, Cree.”
“No, thank you. I’m quite good.”
“You can leave.”
Cree shook his head. “My time is not up—we have at least two hours.”
“This. Me being here. We’ll it do it often—what we do will change depending on how much you annoy me and what you’re capable of. Also,” Cree added quickly when Renzo opened his mouth to refuse, “it wasn’t a request. Back to your cord and stick.”