Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, Part 5 is here, Part 6 is here, Part 7 is here, Part 8 is here, Part 9 is here
I couldn't stop crying.
I felt guilty about that poor little boy who I couldn't help. I heard his mother's words in my head, mixing with the words of my own mother.
"You're a fraud!"
"You insult the spirits!"
"You can't take money!"
"I should sue!"
Over it all, Grandpa Bear intoned, "The price must be paid."
So I cried. For days. Then I went back to see Grandpa Bear and wept in his lap.
"I tried so hard, but I can't do it, Grandpa Bear. I can't live on nothing and I can't afford to be sued if someone decides they don't like what I've done for them. I can't afford food. I'm barely making rent!"
I lifted a tear-stained face to him. "I can't afford the price of this gift! Ask the spirits to take it from me."
Grandpa Bear sighed. "A gift such as that cannot be returned, Little Bird. And your struggle is understandable."
He helped me sit up. "You need to understand better. The price of the gift is not yours."
I frowned, my lip trembling from my tears. "I don't understand, Grandpa Bear. I don't understand at all."
Grandpa Bear nodded. "You need a deeper understanding of how the gifts work and how the spirits demand price. You must ask the spirits themselves for your answers."
I froze. "You want me to go on a vision quest? Isn't there another way?"
Grandpa Bear smiled. "You fear the spirits, child, but not for the reasons you should. Face your fears and learn the deeper truths."
"Can't you just tell me?" I said, ignoring the whine in my voice.
Grandpa Bear sat up and looked me in the eye. "No."