To Catch a Dream by Audrey Carlan

PROLOGUE


            Ten years ago...


            Tears track down my face as Tahsuda, my Toko, which is the Comanche word for “grandfather,” hands me a large stack of pink envelopes tied with a ribbon. My mother’s beautiful handwriting is visible on the top. He hands another stack to my eighteen-year-old sister, Suda Kaye.

            “From my Catori, for her Taabe and Huutsuu,” he begins, using the Comanche nicknames my mother gave us. “To have a piece of her on their birthdays. One for today, and one for each birthday and important moment in your life to come. I shall leave you to your peace but know I am here for you, forevermore.” Tahsuda puts his hands together under his worn red-and-black poncho and nods his head forward. His long, silky black hair gleams a dark midnight blue in the rays of the sunlight that streak through our bedroom window. His hair is so much like my mother’s I have to swallow down the sob that aches to come out in a flood of misery and grief.

            Misery because I am so angry at her for all the time we could have had together. Grief because she left this world six months ago, and today, on my twentieth birthday and Suda Kaye’s eighteenth, we are facing our entire lives without her. This wasn’t another one of her many adventures. We’d grown used to the routine. She’d skip around the house, packing her battered suitcase while she told us all about what she hoped to see and do on her travels. While she fluttered around the globe, we stayed behind and went to school, dropped off for an undetermined amount of time at the reservation where our grandfather lived. Months later, with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, she’d reenter our lives as though she’d never even left.

            At least she’d come back.

            As much as I hated our mother’s wanderlust, I always knew eventually she’d find her way home. Her weary feet would be tired, and she’d come dancing into Toko’s home with grand tales about a world I didn’t ever care to see. I didn’t want to go anywhere that made me up and leave my family for months on end. Them always wondering where I was, who I was with and whether or not I was okay.

            No way. That was not me. And it never would be.

            I finger the ribbon on the stack of envelopes and take mine to the papasan chair in the corner of our shared room. Suda Kaye stretches out on her twin bed. We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Pueblo. Suda Kaye has just graduated high school. I attend the local community college.

            The one thing Catori Ross never imagined could happen to her was illness. In all her plans to travel the globe, to experience absolutely everything she could, she didn’t factor in time to get regular checkups. Since she didn’t tend to get sick, Mom hadn’t been to a doctor in a solid decade before she started to feel unwell. After three solid months of lethargy and depression—two things our mother never was—the first round of tests gave us the first blow.

            Cancer.

            Stage four.

            She believed with her whole heart that she could beat it, but as Toko says, cancer took both his wife and his daughter. He says it was written in the stars. That was the reason he never gave Mom hell about her traveling and leaving us with him. He always said a person must do what their heart wants. Dreams are not only for the sleeping. They are meant to be chased and caught.

            Our mother lived. Chased every dream with a hunger that could never be quenched. I fear my sister will do the same.

            Suda Kaye sits against her headboard as I cuddle into the chair. I untie the ribbon and then set all but the top letter to the side. The first envelope has today’s date on it and her nickname for me. Taabe, which means “sun” in Comanche.

            Mom called me her sun because I am light everywhere, while she and my sister were dark. Mom was full-blooded Native American like Toko. Suda Kaye and I are half, and we each have different fathers. I got a lot of my coloring from my father, Adam Ross. Like Dad, my hair is golden blond and I have his ice-blue eyes. Though my high cheekbones, the shape of my eyes and my full lips are my mother’s. Suda Kaye has dark, espresso-colored hair, amber eyes and will one day have a knockout figure. She already is growing into her womanly hourglass shape—full bosom, long legs and rounded hips. Me, I have the tall, lanky, athletic build. Still, there is no denying our heritage even with the play on light and dark in our coloring.