I love food and have a sincere appreciation for a good fry bread, or bannock. I can also say with confidence the best bannock donuts in the world must certainly belong to The Kekuli Café in West Kelowna. They are about a hundred times better than any Tim Horton’s donut—try one and see for your self.
That was partly the inspiration for this story, in addition to pining for a simpler, more romantic time, before social media obliterated good conversation and relationships.
Starlight pirouetted across the nighttime field, dancing with thousands of fireflies flitting all around. Little be little, her mind emptied of buzzing bees and her spirit landed back down inside her body. She swayed strictly in the comfort of darkness as onlookers were not desired. Animals didn’t count since they bore no judgment and asked no questions.
Starlight hummed along to the ear worm playing in her head, mimicking the drumbeat with her graceful arms and footfalls, slim hips swinging. Field dancing healed the hurts of the day and swirled away tensions. She knew from past experience if she felt too tired to dance that night, anxieties would materialize in bad dreams, making a good night’s sleep unlikely.
Owls hooted appreciatively before taking flight on their midnight hunt for unlucky prey crawling and hopping below. Crickets accompanied the imagined drumbeats thumping inside Starlight’s head, adding to the overall flavour of the groove.
When her dance felt danced for the night, Starlight sauntered down the grassy trail to Twilight Lake, kicking off her flip flops to cool her hot toes in the waves gently lapping ashore.
Unaware she had an audience, Starlight hummed as she hunched down to swirl her still-dancing hands through the ripples. So unaware was she, that when Struck by Lightning called out “That was some good dancing,” she cried out, and may have peed a bit.
“Oh!” Starlight tilted off balance on her haunches, soaking one side of her white cotton skirt.
“Oh hey, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Struck by Lightning said with an obvious grin on his face.
“Well, I didn’t know anyone was spying on me!” Starlight hissed, struggling upright out of the shallow water. “You shouldn’t be out here gawking. What are you doing here anyway?!”
“I could ask the same of you,” Struck by Lightning’s perfect white teeth and long black hair shone under the full moon lighting up the night sky. “I felt like going for a walk and saw you soaring around the field back there like a raven dancer. I was mesmerized,” he grinned, to Starlight’s further irritation.
Unsure how to respond to this, like any other compliment or praise, Starlight clammed up as crickets persisted in filling the warm evening air with song. She grasped a handful of her soaked skirt and squeezed the water back into the lake. Kind words were unexpected, and not overly welcome. Similar to friends dropping by the house unannounced, intending to drink all your wine, eat all your fry bread, and stink up the place before you were forced to yell at them and shoo them out the door. Starlight preferred peace and the guarantee of a quiet night alone with a well-loved book.
“Hey, are you okay?” Struck by Lightning asked, since all he got in response were frogs croaking love songs to one another in the lake mud.
“I’m well enough. Just wasn’t expecting company out here,” Starlight mumbled, becoming increasingly annoyed at this young buck trespassing on her turf. “What do you want, anyway?” Exasperated, Starlight placed her hands on her hips and stood her ground.
“Well now, I don’t want nothing; was just walking is all.” Lightning sounded slightly put out.
“Hey, I have some fry bread in my backpack if you want to try some. It’s my Granny Builds the Fire’s – best fry bread on the whole reserve.” He was hungry and hunger trumped a bruised ego.
A loud growl emanated from Starlight’s belly, betraying the refusal she was prepared to toss at this presumptuous male creature. Fry bread was a sumptuous staple she could not resist.
“Okay. Sure, why not. Dancing always gives me a big appetite.”
The two set to unpacking the backpack, setting a makeshift picnic on a large boulder. The fry bread was delicious, but not as good as her Aunt Josephine’s, Starlight thought to herself. Auntie’s was definitely the best, hands down.
They chewed thoughtfully, content in the darkness trilling with sounds of nocturnal creatures. Struck by Lightning noticed how big Starlight’s dark eyes were and the soft fringe of long lashes framing them attractively as they shone under the moonlight. Starlight glanced surreptitiously at Lightning’s strong muscled arms and the way he self-consciously brushed away the crumbs of his grandmother’s bannock after each bite. An owl hooted approvingly at the simple feast below.
“You know, there is something healing about this place at night,” Struck by Lightning broke the silence. “I don’t know what it is, but every time I can’t sleep, I head here. By the time I get back home, I sleep like a baby.” Slightly surprised by his own admission, Struck by Lighting held his breath and awaited some teasing remark from the mysterious girl that had captured his imagination.
For the first time that day, Starlight smiled, showing a beauty that astounded Struck by Lightning. She glanced away and took another satisfying bite of fry bread.