Anasazi Runner

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Note: This is a sketch made in preparation for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My working title is “Anasazi Runner.” Synopsis: Native American boy abandoned at birth and raised by white parents is inspired when he visits Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, and becomes, in his mind, an Anasazi runner who completes the world’s first sub-two-hour marathon.

# # #

“Kira thinks I’m Navajo like her.”

“Do you think you’re Navajo like her?”

Sean leaned across the table so others wouldn’t hear and mumbled, “No, I don’t.”

I looked around the restaurant. All white people but for one toothless guy of uncertain ancestry in the corner. I knew the Elkhorn cook was Navajo. The waitress, Jicarilla Apache. And the owner had a Ute grandfather. Always made me laugh to think of the cultural tangle inside that place.

Sean obviously didn’t want to be overheard, so I piped down to his level. “You tell her you think that?”

His eye went out the window and he half-shrugged. He shook his head.

“Why not?”

“I think she wants me to be Navajo. I think maybe she thinks she can make me into a Navajo.”

“You could be Navajo, I guess. Nobody knows.”

He tensed and pulled his cheeks back as if in pain. “I just don’t feel like it.”

I scratched my neck and blinked. I didn’t really know how to empathize with that kind of deep identity feeling. Generations of white-trash ancestors had bred all that out of me. “You show her your mamma’s disk?”

When his birth mother had died in the car wreck, she’d been wearing some kind of ceramic disk on her stomach, held in place by a leather thong. His adoptive parents gave it to him when he turned eighteen. It was the only thing he had that connected him to his mother.



He nodded. Good, I thought. Hiding things from your girlfriend isn’t a good sign. “She said I should put it back,” he said.

That shocked me, but the Jicarilla waitress brought us cups and coffee just then. I watched how she eyed Sean, but she didn’t do anything unusual. I always tried to notice how other Native Americans treated him. We ordered the usual, a half-dozen scrambled eggs with dry wheat toast for Sean, and a bowl of oatmeal and raisins for me.

I leaned closer to him when she left. “What does that mean, ‘put it back’?”

“She thinks it’s some kind of spirit-puller from the ancestral enemies.”

“Ancestral enemies? That’s what Anasazi means in Navajo. She thinks it’s Anasazi?”

He nodded. We drank coffee, not looking at each other. I didn’t expect that. I thought that disk had a modern usage and meaning. It looked old, but not ancient.

“Do you ever feel like it’s pulling something to you?”

Sean looked out the window at tourists taking pictures of the glistening mineral mound of one of the hot springs. “Kind of,” he said. “When I run. I feel this lightness in my chest. Like something is pulling me faster than I’m going.”

He drifted into silence, but I needed more than that. “Only when you’re running? Like a vision?”

Softly, almost to himself, he said, “Like I’m a runner for the king or top priest or whatever they had.”

“An Anasazi Runner.”

He nodded for a long time.

# # #

This is my last National Novel Writing Month piece. Thanks for hanging in here with me as I shifted from historical fiction to present-day fiction. It’s been a fun ride.

A note about the image of the spirit-puller: It’s actually an Inuit carving in a piece of mammoth ivory that became exposed from the melting permafrost. It’s not ancient at all.


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, NaNoWriMo, Pagosa Springs

20 responses to “Anasazi Runner

  1. Of course, what a great site and also informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this web-site? Regards, Reader.

  2. >>I didn’t really know how to empathize with that kind of deep identity feeling. <<

    You painted a very vivid picture of someone who was searching for himself. The quote above threw me a bit, because I guess I never really associated my genetic ancestry with who I was as a person. I can see the runner is searching, that he's having a crisis, or maybe it's just his girlfriend that's having the crisis? Does she need him to *be* a particular ancestry for her own reasons? Maybe that's what gets sorted out through the rest of the story.

    You wrote engaging characters, as always. Thank you.

  3. “She said I should put it back” -That’s heavy! Solid writing. Like the others, I’m curious to see the long story.

  4. Pingback: Magenta Monster » Blog Archive » Other Flasher’s Stories

  5. KjM

    “Blood will out”, as they say where I hail from.

    Nice tension you’ve built here between Sean and his off-stage girlfriend, and the pull of ancient enmity.

    I also like the sense of quiet in this piece. Two friends talking about things of great import to them, while the bustle of the outside world goes on around them.

    Well done.

  6. This is my first time here, now that I’m learning how to navigate and find the friday flash stories.
    I’m sorry I’ve missed the ongoing saga. This was my first exposure to Sean and I was pulled into the story. Everyone says that, that they want to be pulled in, but not as many writers can do that–you succeeded. I, too, want to read this novel.

    Congrats on finishing NaNo! I stalled at 35K–you rock!

  7. There’s such a mysteriousness to Sean’s story and his history. It’s elevated by the Coach’s uncertainty and the way he keeps probing. Wonderful. I also think that by mentioning the different tribes, you do a great job of showing how important it is to be identified and connected in that way. How much longer do we have to wait until we can read the whole novel???

  8. I love the touch of mysticism associated with the disk. There is a tie to the past, and his mother, that pulls at his spirit. This will be a terrific novel, Jeff.

    Congrats on finishing NaNo.

  9. Deb

    I’ve read a few of your Anasazi runner stories now and I love it! I can’t wait to read the novel.

    I first learned of them while visiting Mesa Verde. The whole cliff dwelling idea fascinated me and I’ve had an affection for them ever since.

    Have you considered podcasting your novel when it’s done?

  10. I have to agree with Chris. I am always pulled into the story, never just reading it. I was in that restaurant, evesdropping. You have such a strong storytelling ability.

  11. Your story caught me! Pulled me right in…
    Well done.

  12. soesposito

    Oh, I love that the boy is coming to learn who he is. The past is always with us. I’m pulling for him!

  13. I have been away. I am a bad friend.

    What is amazing about your writing, although I have been away, when I read you it’s like I never left. I am drawn back into the story… again.

    I will have to catch up on what I missed. I can’t wait to read more!

    Always a fan!

  14. Deanna Schrayer

    I am loving this young man more and more every week Jeff. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I can’t wait until this is in print!
    I cracked up at Sean pulling his cheeks back, very funny image.
    Marisa’s right – you ARE a great storyteller!

  15. Raymond

    I am enjoying this a lot. The note at the end hints that you might be done with this story for a while. You’ve got me hooked. You can’t quit this one now. What happens next?

  16. There’s just something about your writing that always pulls me in. I was getting ready to give the waitress my order. I’ve enjoyed your switch to modern times but I’m looking forward to stepping back into the past once again.

  17. I’ve really enjoyed your current time sketches. The last few sentences gave me goosebumps. Well done. I really can’t wait to see how you string all of this together. Peace, Linda

  18. Glorious piece, great dialogue
    This boy knows his identity, for sure.

  19. I suppose that he would have a problem with the Navajo people if he’s Anasazi. Great descriptions. I loved the ‘generations of white-trash ancestors’. 🙂

  20. Oh, loved it Jeff. You have always had a way with dialogue. You are very good with it.

    So Sean knows who he is. He’s a runner. An Anasazi runner.

    You are a very good storyteller!

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