The Family I Never Knew Before


Found at the “Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner” blog. No photo credit given.

“What’s that, Grandpa?”

“Just stuff for the tourists, Jimmy. Come along.”

Above his Dad’s wishes, eleven-year-old Jimmy’s first meeting with his Grandpa included a visit to the Rez at Pine Ridge. Dad left home when he was sixteen, joined the Air Force, got married, had a son, and never looked back. But eventually it was time to tell his own son about the people he came from.

The boys and girls looked just like Jimmy did. Even though he felt like an alien here, it was also the first time he felt like he fit in.

“Why are the girls giggling at me?”

“Oh, them? They’re your cousins. They probably think you’re cute.”


The old man laughed. You have a lot of them. Here’s the sweat lodge.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a very spiritual place, Jimmy. It’s where we purify ourselves. Here’s let’s step over here and change. Get’s pretty warm inside.”

“What’s going to happen?”

“I want you to learn something about the Lakota. Your Dad walked away from us almost twenty years ago and I’ve only gotten a few letters from him since. I’m glad he brought you back to us. Come inside. You are with family today.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

The only time I met my Dad’s Dad was when I was eleven years old. We were driving across country, and stopped at my Grandpa’s farm in Oklahoma.

The only thing we know about my Grandpa was that he was an orphan out of Missouri.

Every once in a blue moon, an indigenous person will ask if I’m a native, too. Apparently I look like one. So did my Dad. Decades ago, I asked him about it, and he got so mad at me, I never brought it up again.

Who knows? Anyway, today’s prompt brought all of that to mind again, so I decided to create a fictional scenario around it.

My research included the Sweat Lodge, Lakota people and the Pine Ridge Reservation. Oh, I belong to a Facebook closed group for indigenous people (long story), and there’s sort of a running joke that if you meet a cute girl on the Rez, you pray she’s not your cousin.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

9 thoughts on “The Family I Never Knew Before

  1. What a great take on the prompt. Enjoyed the read and the personal sharing! This would be an experience I would enjoy – both the conversation and chance to answer my grandfather questions…. and the experience of a sweat lodge. Well done!


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