You are on page 1of 9

She stood up out of bed, switched on her naked light bulb, hanging from the cracked ceiling and

began to dress. First, a t-shirt from her dresser, black with orange striped sleeves, and the faded print of a yellow lightning bolt on the front. Second, some panties and a pair of trousers. She began to wonder, as she often did when she went through her morning routine, how her mother would feel about her style of dress. The young girl began sifting through the contents of her floor for her cigarettes and hopefully, a book of matches. Most women in this world of hers wore long dresses, only. They were considered proper and were usually worn with some sort of heavy stockings and a shawl over the shoulders if they showed. If not, the sleeves will at least reach the elbows. Women s feet, upper arms, and ankles were considered sexual; not to be seen by anyone, but family members and husbands, so they wore long sleeves and closed toed shoes. Men could wear almost anything and get away with it. Ah! There! The small dark, paper box stuck out from beneath a grungy pair of socks, near the bed. This one was about two weeks old, she could tell from the condition of the cardboard container. The print was fading off from sitting in her messy room and being tossed around. Throwing the socks on the bed and picking up a handful of books, she almost tripped over a half -full dresser drawer that had been found in an alley down the street. She needed to clean this place up, she thought as she opened the cigarette box, looking into it past dark black hair. One, two, three, four, five. That should be enough for one day. Inside the box, along with the cigarettes was a small matchbook she d filched from a bar sometime before she d bought the cigarettes. So that s where it had gone to. She d have to apologize to Mika about blaming him for its loss. Kai had given up on proper attire, among many things. She d given a lot up at the moment she d last seen her mother. She hadn t seen, nor spoken to her in years. In fact, she hadn t seen any of her physical family for years. Now and then, she d see a cousin or a grandmother in the bazaar, buying

food or clothes, but other than that, she hadn t seen them; not since her mother died, two years ago. Sitting on the bed, Kai lit a cigarette and scanned the room. Inhaling, the earthy sting of tobacco smoke it filled her lungs, coating her insides. She knew what these things did to her, but didn t care. Smoking was her vice. Everyone in this city seemed to have at least one or even two, be it illegal drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, prostitutes, or anything else you could think of. There was always some sort of vice. Something was always killing you. Kai thought about this as her eyes roamed over piles of books, clothes, a desk covered in figurines and things she d found garbage diving, empty matchbooks, and an empty bottle of whiskey from about a month ago. The yellowed walls were covered in newspaper articles, drawings, and carvings made by herself and the boys. Her bookcase was overflowing with sweets and books and an occasional piece of paper, covered in diagrams, unvoiced song lyrics, and drawings of all kinds. Standing up again, Kai grabbed a deep green satchel from under the bed and headed out of her room, slamming the door. It definitely needed a cleaning. The living room was full of dirty mismatched couches and chairs. The boys each slept on a separate couch, giving her the bedroom as she was the only girl and they felt bad about the idea of making her sleep in their party slash studio room. A guitar each leaned on a separate couch, bottles, plates and bits of food were strewn on the floor, along with clothing and jackets. A random, blonde girl in a miniskirt was propped up, sleeping against a couch, a bottle in her hand. She was one of the girls around their neighborhood who were a part of the Women s Revolution; or at least that s what people called it. Really, Kai thought, it was just a bunch of girls tired of being told who to be and how to dress. Most of them tended to be adolescents and many girls, who said they were in it, weren t actually doing anything to change women s social status. They were just going with the crowd, donning trousers and shirts instead of full on dresses and using the revolution as an

excuse to get away from their parents. There were those who did do more, though. They held rallies and sent letters into The Caindhran, hoping for a change. Others, broke into houses of political and those with high social standing, either trashing the place or stealing belongings for money. Those who still had hope that they would get help from their government, she applauded them. She applauded their hope and she applauded that they still held the belief that their government wasn t just a big bullshit factory, out for themselves. At least, when they went to sleep at night, they would feel some sort of hope that the people who were ruling over them were looking out for their best interests. They were blissfully ignorant. Kai could remember being blissfully ignorant and she envied them for it. She envied their ignorance. Kai could remember someone once telling her that ignorance was bliss. The closest thing it could get to bliss was helping people sleep better at night, instead of tossing and turning, waiting for the moment all the world to come crashing down into their back yards.

I left the apartment and walked down the creaky wooden stairs in my heavy boots, causing them to sag dangerously. Pulling my hair up into an inky ponytail, I passed by my elderly neighbor s low balcony garden where shriveled tomatoes grew in muddy soil. She looked up from her pulling out bits of weeds, blown in from the cracks in the street and waved, smiling. Headed to work, Kai? She called from her scraggly garden of pots and worn out kettles full of herbs of which I only knew the names to a few of them. Basil, mugwort, and ginger root; the only ones I knew the names to. Yes, I am. Headed off to sell watered down liquor to the tired souls who accompany me each day. She gave a sad smile and I almost wish I hadn t said anything like that to her. She reached into her garden as withered as her own dark skin and handed me some of the leaves of a sharp smelling plant.

Take these, she said. They will help with the headaches that bother you during work. She smiled another sad smile and turned back to her garden. I didn t want to be rude and knew it would make her hurt if I didn t take her gift. Thank you, Mabel. She smiled brightly at me and even in her age, I saw the beauty of her youth and it reminded me of when the few trees and weeds in this dead section of city combusted into a brilliant green in the warmer months. When her back was turned, I reached into my satchel and placed a small wrapped chocolate on her balcony where she would find it, vowing to paint a tree on my wall just for her and then, plant one on the outskirts of the city where things grew as lush and green as possible, far from the blaring electric lights and anger and tears. It was still dark when I reached the grimy coffee vendor a few blocks away from my home. It was cleaner today than usual, under the naked oil lamp I thought as I placed a few coins into the coffee man s hand and took the dark brew into my own, warming my fingers. I pulled a small vial of sugar out of my satchel and dumped it in, stirring it with an overused spoon, just after wiping off bits of lint onto my trousers. The thin, paper cup burned my fingers a bit as I carried it, heading for the morning trolley to work at the seedy pub where I entertained the ghosts of men and women, pimps, workers, students, prostitutes, and small children, begging for some milk and bread. Either these children were tossed out by their parents for being found out having some sort of higher ability or because they were too poor to feed them. I usually, saved a bit of food for them, knowing how it is to have someone hate you for something you could not control; something that came as natural as breathing. Many children who were found to have psychic abilities were sent to The Caindhran by law or tossed out onto the streets, by parents too afraid to turn them in. Some even ran away on their own, fearing the consequences of being sent away and never being heard from again. No one knew what really happened to those sent in for their Powers, just that if they were, you may as well

expect never to see them again. Sometimes, friends and relatives built a sort of shrine for the taken or missing children. To me they were like grave markers, as if the families had already given up on the children they d lost and already considered them dead. Other times, I think they were to help the people feel a little less guilty. Hopping onto the trolley, the sun was rising just above the peaks of the mountains that bordered our valley city of ron. Its golden rays shone on the snow on top of the mountain, giving it the illusion of shimmering gold, or molten sunlight. Sitting in the back of the trolley, I faced the mountain as the first light of morning warmed my face. It was these moments where I felt a dash of hope in this dirty, hungry world, sipping my burning coffee, allowing the greasy, loud trolley to take me away from it all and deeper into the heart of this bustling turmoil; away to a small, dark pub to serve seemingly numbing liquids to people who only wished to forget how to feel, yet are only met with deeper turmoil once the drink has been tossed down their throats, like a crumpled paper, full of written reminders of their pain into a bottomless waste can. Yet, in spite of it all, they hold onto the hope that every day, they are getting a little closer to the goal that they secretly hope will never come; the goal which they love and hate all at once, because for them, it s easier than facing what lay outside of the murky brown and amber liquids they drowned themselves with.

The sun just barely rose over the canopy as it filtered down into the faces of sleeping villagers, high in the age old trees made of oak and pine. They were tall and their trunks were hundreds of years old thick and whispered the forgotten lore of villagers past. A young girl of sixteen summers drifted down out of the branches on pure white wings and landed as softly as a leaf in fall. She had long curling red hair cascading down her back and her doe like, blue eyes sparkled like starlight on the water. The

young girl s face was triangular and she only wore a long, woolen skirt the color of copper and a hemp cloth covering her breasts. It was dyed the color of the Rinam-Rana; the delicate flowers of the nearby valley, and were the color of the sun. Scanning the tops of the trees, she listened closely to the snores and sounds of the others still in their beds. Her wings and feathers melded into her body, like water into earthy soil. Bits of shimmering sunlight filtered through the leaves, leaving the world under the canopy in a green and misty haze. Fog swirled off of the river Da, chilling the young girl s skin. She didn t mind this as she padded barefoot across the mossy, leaf strewn floor of the forest. Puddles of wildflowers dotted the floor as well, sending waves of perfume, caressing her as she walked along the path and headed to the valley. A slight breeze caused the rope bridges that connected the tree houses of her village to sway playfully, like children laughing in the branches of the trees. Birds flittered and sung all over, as if they played their little tunes just for her each morning. Reaching up into a familiar patch of leaves, colors, and scents above her, she carefully plucked an apple out of a small tree. Before taking a bite, she kissed the tree, thanking it for granting her with the fruit. Squirrels and chipmunks dashed to and fro as little frogs and toads croaked and chirruped in a chorus with the birds and crickets, as they did each morning of each day. It was as if the sun was a conductor of the music of the creatures of the day, as the moon was the conductor of the music that greeted them each night. The apple crunched beneath her teeth and juice dribbled down her throat. It was cool and sweet and a little dripped down her chin and along her arm. The wind flowed lazily through the trees, ruffling the leaves and casting light shadows in the early morning. Finishing her apple, she buried the core in the earth, in hopes of new apple trees, washed her hands free of dirt and sticky juice in a stream that had drifted from the river and deep into the forest. She continued along the beaten path. Two deer, about ten feet away, gracefully slipped between the trees farther off, but she could see them clearly.

The pulls of the muscles and tendons did not escape the reach of her eyes as the deer bounded deeper into the trees and soon, even out of her own sight. She continued along the path until her feet landed upon the green sea of the valley; it crissedcrossed between her toes and bent under her weight. Brown and copper colored spots moved along the emerald expanse; tall creatures with spindly legs and long necks dotted the valley. They were wooly and had long, hanging ears and short stubby tails and grazed peacefully or slept in the imprints of grass that had formed beneath them, warming the earth under their curling, heavy locks. Their hooves spread evenly across the grass as they walked, hardly disturbing the earth beneath their feet. Okapani, her people called them. They grazed in the valley and were sheared for their wool each spring, to rid them of their warm winter fur and to provide the people throughout the land of Raj za Aves with coats and blankets throughout the cold months of each year. Right now, their coats were still full, as today was the first day that the shearing was done, just before the spring equinox, but the Okapani had to wait until the surrounding tribes returned to the valley for when they shaved the fur from the tall creatures. The equinox wasn t for another six suns, which meant the next few days would be busy as they were every year, shearing the Okapani for winter, planting for the harvest, and hunting and fishing for the trek from the point where the river named after their goddess met the mountains to the end of the river where it met with the great sea. An offering would be placed at the base of the Almor mountain range to the god for which it was named. Then, they would gather together from all of the surrounding tribes and as one, follow the river Da through the forests, enchanting life and new growth into their world, until reaching the sea, where a feast of fish, sea plants, and anything hunted from the surrounding woods would be prepared.

They would celebrate for three days, dancing around bonfires and children would play and the older men and women would ritually make love to their partners or partners they hoped they would soon be wed to for life, in the prospect of coaxing new breath into the world. On the spring equinox, any woman wishing to be blessed for fertility would have a ritual performed to bring her children in the coming months and on the last day any marriages that were not conducted last equinox would be done for the couple as long as they still wished it. Any new couples wishing for marriage together, would be blessed and then would ritually live together from one spring equinox until the next as a way of seeing if they were truly compatible. They were not to court any other within this time so that they may discover what it was to be truly loyal to the person they were living with and wished to marry. Also, the spring equinox as was the winter one, was for the renewing of marriage vows, fulfilling promises past made and ridding oneself of old, unwanted habits, bad energies collected through the winter months, and was the best day for divining the events of the coming year. Yet, for now, all that mattered to Nkita was the serene beauty of the morning. I sat in a patch of Men- Ranas, closed for now. The moon wasn t out, so they would not open until tonight. Rising above the tops of the trees, came the sun. It was bright and beautiful, like a puddle of gold in the great blue sky. It was just rising; drifting towards the heavens like a bird flying from the earth, to meet the moon. When it reached a point in the horizon, the barely visible moon and the piercingly bright sun, would meet for but a moment in their great flight across the sky. I loved to watch this moment, so gorgeous and wonderful. I loved the quiet and the intense bonding with the universe I felt and I believed I would always have this in my life and would do my best to keep it. I loved living near the valley, just for this. I would live here until I died, no matter what. The wind began to pick up some more, so I stood up, spread my arms out and began to twirl. The muscles in my back and arms twitched, but I did not transform just yet. My long hair twirled as I

twirled, fanning out behind my back. I imagined myself in my human form, dancing in the deep blue ocean of sky and spinning among the stars. Closing my eyes, I breathed in deep as my cream white legs went round and round along the soft blanket of grass. Suddenly, exhaling I began running at breakneck speed in a straight line. Feathers flowed out from my legs, back and arms as I ran. Giving my wings a few flaps, I was up from the ground, using my feet as a bird uses their tail, pointing my toes outward. I was riding the waves of the sky. My face grew white feathers from my cheeks, around my ears and my forehead, covering the top half of my hair and soon, I was fully transformed. Rising higher and higher, towards the sky, I was in my Korai; my bird form. Wind rose beneath my wings as I soared above the valley and above the Okapani; above everything. With nothing but my own wings and the wind to catch me, I gave a single roll and then, just drifted along the waves, completely free. Abruptly, I soared higher, until the altitude caught my breath. I completely let go. I tilted backwards and plummeted towards the earth, letting myself feel the wind rush past me. Giving a loud whoop, just before I hit the earth, I twirled around and beat my wings, catching myself on a current, soaring back upwards, in the direction of the sun.