While visiting at my husband’s parents’ house some time before we were married, someone brought out some Indian arrowheads. Don’t remember who found them or why they were sitting out, I just remember part of the conversation surrounding them.
Fingering one of the points, feeling its cool smooth surface and examining its chiseled edges, I couldn’t help wonder about the story it could tell, could it talk. Who fashioned it? Had he traveled far to get the flint, or was it received in trade or by some other means? Was he a young man, still trying to earn the respect of his tribe? Or was he too old for battle, but a skilled arrowhead maker? What was he thinking as he chiseled it? Was he wrapped up in thoughts of the hunt to come, or did he dream of the girl he loved? Did he chip it down to a sharp point with plans to bring food home to the tribe? Or did he have thoughts of war and revenge?
And what had that point penetrated? Who or what had it killed? Did it pierce the hide of a deer, straight into the lungs and heart? Did it slice into the plucked-smooth, painted chest of a man? How had the point become lost? Did the shooter fall in battle? Did the arrow miss its mark and disappear into the forest? Did a wounded deer bound away into the gloom, with the point working its way ever deeper into the muscle?
All these thoughts, and more, went through my mind as I handled the mute piece of flint. It had so much to tell, it seemed almost like a living thing. Still lost in thought, I said, “Whenever I see an arrowhead like this, I always wonder who made it.”
My father-in-law looked at me, a little confused. “The Indians made it.”
When I tried to explain what I meant, his expression grew more perplexed and then he shrugged. Probably thought, “What kind of wacko is my son marrying?”
Flash forward thirty-six years: recently said hubby and I were trying to track down information about an old army helmet. Turned out to be from Sweden, World War II vintage or before. (The Internet has so many uses!) Once we established just what the helmet was, I said to my husband, “My question is, how did it come to be on our kitchen table?”
He is his father’s son. “It came from my Uncle Don.”
Ummm, yes. But who worked the factory line that made it? To whom was it issued? Where had it traveled, what had it seen? Was its owner a father? If so, are his children still living, or grandchildren? Did he see action, or was the helmet merely a formality? What kind of a mind did it protect? What color were the eyes that peered from under it? Had the wearer’s sweat soaked that leather liner? How did it get from Sweden to Ohio?
I frequently wonder things like that about items I see. Is this one of the things that makes me a writer? Or am I just weird?