That reminded me of the first time we met- I was 10 years old and I was playing tag with a bunch of the boys. I loved that game, mostly because no one could beat me- I was faster than all of them. You just had to give me a moment and I was off, they had no chance of catching me.
So his father only came to our village every few years, I'm not really sure why but that was how it always has been. Our Shaman was an old man, so old he looked as if he could have been there at the creation of the world yet he was still strong and agile. We were all playing tag together when the Shaman's son, Helaku, was introduced to us. We invited him to play of course and he did but no one paid much attention to him until all of them decided to chase me.
I started running and in no time all the boys had fallen behind, way behind. I stopped for a moment and looked behind me to see Helaku charging toward me, he was only a few yards behind. I laughed and kept running, I was sure I'd outrun him though- I always out ran them all. But I couldn't shake him, I just kept running and he stayed right with me. I put on a burst of energy as my last resort, I was getting tired but that did nothing. All the sudden I felt a pair of strong arms grab me around the waist and stop me. I yelled and struggle but he didn't let go,
"Struggling won't help, I could hold you here forever." he said. I yelled and fought even harder but it was no use- he could hold me here as long as he wanted.
"Let me go!" I growled.
"I know!" I replied angrily.
"Then say it,"
"Say that I beat you."
"Then you're just going to have to stay here." I struggled again but I didn't really even try. Why did he want me to say that? I knew he beat me and he knew it, why humiliate me by making me say it out loud?
"I'm not going to say it."
"Why are you still holding me?" I asked as I tried to pry his arms off me- but it was no use they were wrapped so tightly around me that I couldn't budge.
"Maybe because I want to." He answered.
"That makes no sense!" I cried.
"It does to me."
"Ahh! I hate you!" I cried as I tried to shake his arms off.
"What?" He said, sounding shocked.
"I said I hate you!" I repeated, he looked at me in horror and practically dropped me.
"Why would you say that?" He whispered, "You don't even know me, how can you hate me? Hate means that you wish you had never met me, that you can't stand the sight of me, that you wish I would just die…"
"Well, I do!" I said crossing my arms and glaring at him. He looked down at the ground for a minute then darted off back towards the camp, so fast he was already out of sight before I could register what had happened. I watched him go in awe, he was so fast- he had let me win for a while because I could tell he was fast enough to have caught right away. But he didn't…
I made my way home and when I got there my mother was going crazy,
"Where were you?!" She demanded.
"Running? From what? Are you okay, baby?"
"Yes mama, I'm fine. I was running from a boy."
"Which one?" She laughed.
"Baby, that's not a nice thing to say."
"Well he's not a nice person! I hate him!"
"Why's that honey?"
"Because he's mean! He caught me! Nobody eveer catches me, mama! And then he grabbed me and wouldn't let go til I said he won but I wouldn't say it…I didn't like the way he held me!" I said and sat down in my mother's lap.
"How did he hold you?" She asked, sounding a little like a mama bear, "Did he hurt you?"
"No, he was just confusing me and making me feel stupid and I don't like it."
"Honey, I really don't understand you."
"Mama, he held me like the world was trying to kill me and he was somehow able to protect me…but I don't want him to protect me! I want to protect myself!" My mother looked down at me and shook her head and laughed.
"Baby, no one can understand love- not even the Shaman himself." She laughed.
"Love? Eww, who said anything about love? Mama, what are you talking about?"
"You'll understand when you're older."
"I want to understand now!"
"Go play, honey!" I sighed and got up. The boys were out by the river and I went to see them, Helaku and his father had left a little bit ago.
"He came back all red and out of breath!" Laughed one of the boys.
"Yeah, and we asked him where you were but he said you had beat him and that he hadn't even gotten close." Said another boy. I froze,
"He said I won?" I asked cautiously.
"Of course! Just like you always do!" The first boy answered. I nodded and walked away, now I was even more confused. Why would he go through all the trouble to try to make me say it but then tell the boys I won? Why? I just couldn't figure it out.
The second time we met was 6 years later, I was 16- a grown woman. Father had been looking for a husband for me for the last year but I hadn't seen one who I truly felt something for. Thankfully, my father loved me and said that in the end it would be up to me to choose whom I would marry but he was starting to get a little worried. Most woman my age were married and had a child by now.
My mother didn't seem to mind, she had always told me it was practically evil to marry with out love. I would ask her over and over, what love was but she would never say. 'You'll know when you find it!' she would always say but I was scared- what if I thought I found love then realized it wasn't or worse yet, what if I found it but didn't realize it til it was too late? But when ever I told her my fears she would just laugh and say, 'there's no way you would miss it, honey'.
Almost everyday my father would introduce me to another man who had asked to marry me- my father would preach to the poor boy about my skill with the needle, my cooking, my voice, even how no one had ever beaten me in running. And each time I would hear him say that I would cringe inside because I knew it was a lie and it would make me remember back to when that by had held me in his arms. I actually thought of him a lot, I don't really understand how he overtook my mind but something always brought him to the surface. As the years had passed I had built him up into some kind of super human, I mean I attributed all these virtues to him but there was no way I knew that, right? I had only known him for a day so it had to be my imagination that built him into the ideal man.
Have you ever done that? You don't see someone for a long time but you're always thinking of them and then when you meet them again you realize that they're really not as good as you thought they were and have all these flaws you somehow forgot about…that's what I figured I had done with him.
None of the other men seemed to compare and that wasn't fair since he was mostly built of my dreams but even though I knew that I couldn't let myself settle for any of them- besides I didn't love them.
Then one day I was inside weaving a basket for my mother when I heard a lot of yelling and cheering. I rushed out, thinking the hunters were back but what I saw was the Shaman. He was on his horse surrounded by a crowd of people, it looked a lot older- if that was possible but he slipped of his horse and landed lightly on the ground just like a young man. I smiled and ran towards the crowd when I saw a tall man standing next to the Shaman and I froze. My mother, who was running behind me, crashed into me- almost knocking me over.
"What's the matter?" She asked looking at me with a concerned face.
"Nothing…I just remembered something." I muttered and turned, running back to the teepee. I rushed in and collapsed by the fire, staring at dancing flames trying to figure out what I had seen.
How could he have changed so much? Helaku? That boy was now a tall, proud man- I could tell it was him by the way he held his head and that half smile he always had on his face. He was huge now though, his shoulder came well above his horse's back and his shoulders were broad and muscular like his arms. He was a dark chestnut color stained by the sun and stood straight like an arrow.
I shook my head, trying my best to clear my mind. I wasn't sure how I felt about this- I had planned on never seeing him again, of just keeping him a fantasy that I made up as a child. Yet I had been hoping to meet some one who would fill me with wonder like this, I thought that the person who would make me feel this way had to be the one for me. But now that it was him I was scared- I'm not going to lie I was terrified. I didn't want to let any of my feelings out, to let myself fall for him then realize all the parts of him I loved were the parts I had made up.
And I was afraid of the intensity of what I felt, how could I feel so strongly when I didn't even know him really? I didn't understand it and that's why I was afraid- man always fears what he doesn't understand.
I don't know how long I sat there, staring into the fire hoping to somehow find the solution to everything, when one of the younger girls came in,
"Your father has asked for you to come to the meeting house." She said. I silently cursed and looked around for something to save me, I saw a spoon and snatched it up.
"I can't…I'm watching the stew!" I said pretending to be really interested in the pot of stew next to the fire.
"He said you had to come," She smiled, "No excuses! Besides," she bent down and lowered her voice, "I think you have someone else who wants to marry you- some one really good!" She winked and stood up. It took me a minute to process what she said, then I leapt to my feet- Helaku wanted to marry me? I smiled and ran to the meeting house full of anticipation. Maybe this is what love feels like! I laughed to myself.
I rushed into the meeting hall straight to my mother, I had the sudden urge to tell some one what I had just experience and I knew she would understand,
"Mama, guess what I figured out!" I said happily.
"What, honey?" I was about to answer when I suddenly realized the house was crowded with people and they were all silent, all watching me. I brushed and laughed nervously,
"Nevermind, it's not important." I said quickly.
"Oh tell us now, daughter! What has made you so excited?" Asked my father with a smile. I swallowed and answered with the first thing that came to my mind.
"I found a new way…a new way to fix those moccasins we were having issues with." I said with a laugh.
"Ah, the young are so full of life, are they not?" My Father turned and said to the man next to him. I glanced up to see who he was talking to and almost stepped back.
Staring back at me was a pair of amber eyes so fierce that it felt hard to breath. I had never seen this man before and I wished I hadn't- he had the look of a predator. He looked at me like he was coyote or fox and I was a wounded doe, I had never felt so much anger and hatred coming from one person before. I looked away, trying to calm myself down but he was still staring at me when I looked up again.
My father said something and he looked away, I stared at him trying to figure him out. That's when I realized that he wasn't much older than me, he was probably 19 or 20 but the way he held himself made him seem much older. And he was quite handsome, he had bright eyes and sharp cheekbones but there was something cruel in the shape of his mouth and his eyes looked at everything with distain. He was coyote, a honor less scavenger so full of anger that he would destroy anything in his path for no reason. I shivered and looked away glancing at the crowd.
That's when I saw him, Helaku, he was staring right at me and just like that I was thinking of nothing but him. He stared at me for a few more moments then took a step toward me, like he was about to say something- but the evil stranger interrupted him.
"Chief Enapay," He said to my father, "I'm sure you know there is another reason I came here besides just seeing how your tribe been doing."
"I had guessed as much,Chief Kalisk." My father answered.
"Well, as I'm sure you've heard, I found a wife from the
"I had heard that." Confirmed my father.
"About a year ago, she got seriously ill and with in a week she was dead, there was nothing our Shaman could do for her. Not only was she gone, but she had left me without and heir. So this last year I have been searching for a wife. I have heard so much about your daughter that I had to come and see for myself. And I must admit I am astonished, I had heard about her grace and beauty but I never imagined that she would rival the moon herself. Now that I've seen her and heard her voice I don't think I could ever look upon another. So I am asking you for your daughter's hand, you know I am well able to take care of her in every way." He concluded.
I couldn't move, what was I going to do? My father was smiling at him with a look of approval then he turned to me waiting for an answer. An answer! What could I say? I knew just from looking at him that this Chief Kalisk was a proud man and would not take kindly to rejection but I couldn't say yes- I would die before I married that evil man.
"Dyani…" My father prompted. I cleared my throat and tried to form the words I wanted to say but my mind just kept saying 'no! no no no no!' chanting it like it was some sort of prayer.
"Chief Kalisk," I began, "I am flattered beyond words that you would travel all those miles to see me." I swallowed, trying to find the right words, "I really can't find the words to say after such a beautiful speech, you really took my breath away. No one has ever made me feel quite this way before, but before I jump into anything I want to get to know you more so that I know my heart is not mistaken in its conclusion." I let out the breath I had and hoped he would believe what I just said.
" How can one so beautiful and one be so wise too?" He laughed and bowed to me in acknowledgement. My father smiled at us both and I felt the urge to sprint out of there so I wouldn't have to deal with reality.
"Daughter, I have someone else I would like you to meet." My father said, bringing me back to reality, "This is Helaku, our beloved Shaman's son."
"We met as children, but I doubt you remember." Said Helaku in a deep musical voice. I smiled,
"Of course I remember!" I laughed, "You beat me."
"What?" Demanded my father looking flustered, Helaku looked straight into my eyes and grinned. I could tell by the look on his face that he understood what I was saying and accepted my apology for that day.
"He beat me in a race father." I answered.
"You never told me this before! Here I have been bragging about how you've never been beaten," Helaku stepped forward with a confident smile,
"Chief Enapay, I didn't beat her fairly. She didn't know I was there and stopped, that's when I catch up to her and nearly tackled her." He looked at me and winked, I couldn't help but laugh., "So don't worry, your daughter is undefeated." He continued.
"I'm glad!" My father laughed, "Now in honor of our guests we will have a feast tonight." He added.
I turned to look at Helaku but he was already being dragged away by some men around his age, I happened to see Chief Kalisk cast on more angry look in my direction. Looking at him made me shutter- I could truly say I hated him. I didn't want to look at him or ever see him again and I prayed the Great Spirit would strike him down so I would have to constantly fight the urge to kill him myself.
As I left the tent I couldn't help but laugh to myself, today I had experienced love and hate for the first time within a few hours- how was that possible? Oh how I wished I had never laid eyes on Chief Kalisk. But Helaku, I had been weighting for him all my life, I just didn't know it.
"So what going on, honey? You seem out of sorts." My mother said as we were walking out.
"I…well, today…" I stuttered trying to think of the right words, but they all seemed foolish now, "I have never loved or hated ayone until today." I said at last. She grinned.
"I told you that you wouldn't miss it, and don't worry sometimes love can be strong you swear its hate."
"No, that's not what I mean- I mean I love one person and hate another."
"Aw, baby! Don't tell me you still hold a grudge again the Shaman's son! He's really a nice boy, well man now. Now go help get the fire started."
"Mama, I don't hate him-"
"Hush, run along!" I sighed and shook my head- how could she think I still hated Helaku? I mean I never really hated but still I thought it was obvious to everyone how I felt about him.
I was out getting firewood, I had a huge bundle and really couldn't see where I was going when all the sudden someone grabbed the bundle out of my arms. I stopped, startled and peeked around the firewood to see who had taken it- the coyote, Chief Kalisk.
"Someone as beautiful as yourself shouldn't have to carry such a heavy burden." He said in a smooth voice
"Thanks you." I managed to gasp, for some reason I couldn't explain I was utterly terrified.
"So Darling, tell me- what do want to know about me?" He asked and started walking. I followed but was too terrified to make small talk.
"I'm rich," He continued, "I'm strong, an excellent fighter and hunter, a fast runner-not as fast as you of course," He laughed and it sent chills down my spine- definitely not in a good way. "I have power and can give you all you ever wanted." He stopped in front of me and leaned in- his face way too close to me, "Most women would kill for a chance to be my wife! Don't forget that! And, my precious little doe, I always get what I want- always! Once I sink my teeth into something I never let go, not even in death." I took a step back, "You're mine, nothing can stop or change that now. My wife, my possession." I was boiling with anger, my whole body was shaking-I couldn't help it, I slapped him hard across the face,
"I'd rather die!" I screamed. He just stared for a moment, shocked then he threw the firewood down and grabbed my wrist before I could get away. He yanked me harshly back and locked his arm around my waist, crushing me into his hard body.
"You might be fast but I'm stronger," He whispered like a snake in my ear, "Do you really want to anger me? This is the man you're going to wake up to for the rest of your life. Do want to give me a reason to make your life hell?"
"Let go of me!" I said through clenched teeth. He laughed and pulled me tighter, I let out a little cry- he was mashing my ribs.
"Look at me!" He commanded, I didn't budge. He grabbed my chin with his other hand and forced me to look up at him.
"You really don't want to mess with me," He said quietly but full of warning, then he smashed his lips on mine. He bit viciously at my lips and forced his tongue into my mouth, I struggled but it did no good.
"You bitch!" He screamed and threw me to the ground, blood dripping down him chin from his mouth- I had bite his tongue. I crawled away from him, trying to scramble to my feet but he grabbed me and threw me on my back.
"You think you're going to get away with that?" He screamed, and picked up a thick banch, "How about we give you something to help you remember to obey me!" He laughed and raised the branch, I cringed trying to curl up to protect my body as much as I could.
"STOP!" a deep voice commanded. I couldn't see who it was but I saw Kalisk look away for a moment and I leaped to my feet and took off into the woods. I heard someone shouting my name but I didn't stop, I didn't even look back. I heard shouting but soon I was to far away.
I finally stopped, and turned to see someone barreling towards me. I screamed and turned to run but tripped on a branch and fell. I closed my eyes and weighted for the blows I thought were about to come but nothing happened. I felt the person kneel down next to me,
"Dyani, are you alright?" My eyes flew open, it was Helaku.
"I…yes I'm fine." I stuttered, I couldn't help but stare at him.
"What happened?" He asked quietly, suddenly everything that had happened hit me and I threw my arms around his neck and started to cry. He hugged me tightly and pulled me into his lap and rubbed my back as I cried, whispering that it was going to be okay.
"We should probably get back." He said after I had been crying for a while. I groaned and burried my face in his shoulder.
"Come on!" He laughed and nudged me.
"Why?" I groaned.
"Because I said so, people are going to start to worry."
"fine." I mumbled and slowly go to my feet.
"I'll race you!" Laughed Helaku. I punched him lightly in the shoulder,
"You beat me! I get it!" I laughed.
"We'll just walk then." He said with a smile and reached out and took my hand- it sent tingles down my spine. I looked down at his hand,
"What happened I asked?" His knuckles were chewed up. He looked down,
"I don't really remember…but I might have punched a certain Chief a few times." I gasped then started laughing.
"What?" He smirked, "Some one had to do it!" I just shook my head and kept laughing,
"Come on, I'm hungry!" I said when I had finally stopped laughing.
As we got closer to the village I started getting worried, what was I going to do? I mean my father seemed to think that Kalisk was perfect for me and probably wouldn't believe me if I told him what happened and my mother thought I loved him! What if he was right and always got what he wanted?
"Helaku," I said quietly.
"I'm scared." He stopped and turned to face me.
"Of what? I won't let anyone hurt you." He said earnestly.
"Kalisk. He's going to be watching me now- and you too! No one will believe me when I tell them-"
"Shhh," He held his finger to my lips, "Stop worrying. I'll be with you all the time and I won't let him touch you. I promise. And don't worry, we'll think of a plan to get him out of here. Unless you want to marry him?"
"Helaku!" I cried and punched his arm, "You know I hate him!"
"You hate him too?" He asked with a smirk.
"Yes I hate him."
"Like you hate me?"
"Oh shut up! You know I don't hate you- I never did. But him I really do hate him."
"I'll help you get way from him, I promise." He said seriously. I smiled and started walking again,
"Alright, I believe you." I replied. He smiled and squeezed my hand to reassure me and didn't let go.
When we go back to the village no asked where we had been- no one seemed to realize that we had left in the first place. They were all laughing and eating and celebrating. I tried to join them but I couldn't really enjoy any of it, I was too anxious to eat hardly anything and was trying to keep a look out for Kalisk but I didn't see him until the end of the night. He was talking seriously with my father about something, my father looked happy enough but that didn't mean what Kalisk was saying was good for me…probably the opposite because father thought I should marry him.
There was one good thing about that evening though, Helaku stayed with me the whole time, not touching me but sitting so close I could feel the heat coming from his body and it comforted me. I was still scared but I knew he would be right there, next to me, if anything happened.
It was almost dawn when everyone started going to bed, Helaku and I were one of the first to leave. It wasn't that I didn't like being with him, it was just that I was deathly tired and needed some time alone to figure out everything that had happened.
"Do you want me to sit outside your door and make sure he doesn't come near?" Helaku asked as we got close.
"No," I laughed, "Mother left already so she'll be in there and father will be later- I'll be safe."
"Yes, thanks for offering. It's really nice…"
"I just want you to be safe, and not to be so anxious." He said and ran a finger down me arm, it sent chills down my spine.
"I know," I whispered and look up at him, I couldn't understand how I trusted him so much. But I did. I sure he would risk his life to protect me and I would do the same for him. Yet we had met today for the first time in years, maybe its true- our mates are chosen for us at our birth…
"Dyani." I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart racing. I hadn't noticed Kalisk standing a ways in front of my tent until he had said my name. I just stared, I could feel Helaku tense up next to me like a mountain lion ready to spring and I felt better.
"Dyani, this is the thing you're rejecting me for? He is the one you would rather have? Instead of me? Me! You're willing to bring a world of pain on yourself for some cheap thrills?!"
"What do you want, Kalisk?" asked Helaku and in a strong, commanding voice. I edged closer to him.
"Her. But that's none of you're business, boy. Why don't you leave and let me talk to my wife alone." Kalisk said with a smirk.
"No, and it is my business because she wants nothing to do with you. So you should leave, now."
"Or what?" He taunted.
"Shut up!" I yelled at Kalisk, he turned to me., "Get away from me! You know I'm not going to marry you, just leave me alone! Nothing you could do will change me mind." I said angrily.
"Oh, I can think of a few things…" Kalisk answered threateningly.
"Come on," said Helaku, putting his arm around my waist and leading me to my teepee. "Don't worry, I'll stay outside until you're father gets back." I nodded. Kalisk just watched us from where he stood, strangely saying nothing.
I was ready to step into my teepee when I thought suddenly struck me,
"Will you be here in the morning?" I asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Last time you disappeared…I don't want to lose you again like that." I said quietly, he smiled.
"I'm not going anywhere, come wake me up the moment you're awake, my butterfly. I'm not leaving here 'til you send me away." I smiled.
"Good," I stood on my toes and kissed his cheek, "Sweet dreams!" He smiled and tucked my hair behind my ears.
"Sweet dreams." He whispered. I looked up him for a moment memorizing his face then stepped inside.
My mother was laying out some blankets and smiled as I came in. I said good night to her and crawled under my blankets, hoping for the peace of oblivious sleep. I had changed my mind, I didn't want to think of anything that happened today- I only had room in my thoughts for Helaku, the one I loved. And somehow with everything horrible that had happened, I fell asleep with a smile on my face and dreamt of Helaku and I.
Sadly, with morning came all the hopes and fear from the day before. I grabbed some food and rushed out to find Helaku. I rushed around the village, no one seemed to know where he was staying I started to get worried- what if Kalik hurt him to get back at me? My heart started pounding and I was ready to barge into every teepee in the village in a final act of desperation.
Some one put their hand on my shoulder, I gasped and spun around, pulling a small knife from my belt and holding it - ready to defend myself.
"Whoa! Take it easy, Dyani!" said Helaku with a surprised look on his face. I immediately relax and had to fight the urge to just jump on him and wrap my arms around him.
"Do you even know how to use that thing?" He asked with a laugh.
"Of course!" I said defensively.
"Well, that's good. You have great reflexes, no one stands a chance." I smiled and put my knife back.
"Where were you?" I asked curiously.
"Oh, my father wanted me to look for some different berries he uses for his medicines. But they weren't ripe yet. Why? Did you think I left?" He said half teasing, half serious.
"Not exactly…" I looked down, " I was afraid that…that Kalisk had hurt you. You know, to get back at me."
"Aw, I'm sorry I worried you," He looked genuinely upset and took both my hands. "Next time I leave I promise I'll leave you a note or something. I don't want you going frantic and doing something extreme."
"Like telling your father that Kalisk kidnapped me, or attacking Kalisk yourself." He said with a smile.
"Don't worry, I won't kill too many people!" I laughed.
"You want to take a walk."
"Sure." I smiled. We walked away from the village, as soon as we were in the woods he reached out for my hand.
"My father is going home tomorrow." He said quietly.
"What!" I exclaimed, stopping and turning towards him, "Take me with you." I whispered, my eyes pleading with him.
"I'm staying here for a while longer. I talked to him last night, he understands."
"So you're not leaving?" I clarified.
"Not yet, we have to get things settled."
"Settled?" I asked, my heart was beating fast- was he talking about getting married?
"Kalisk. We need to get rid of him. I feel like the village won't be safe if he's anywhere near it." I nodded.
"Then we can leave?" I asked quietly.
"You want to leave your home?"
"I have a feeling I'll be forced to, but even if I'm not forced to leave I want to be where you are."
"I could stay here."
"But I don't think you would be happy just staying here." I said looking into his eyes.
"I would if you were here with me." He whispered. I smiled, and looked out into the quiet forest. He continued walking in silence until we reached a stream and sat near it on the sand.
"Hmmm?" He mumbled laying on his back and looked up at the clouds.
"You father is going back alone tomorrow?"
"Yes, that's what we decided."
"I want you to go with him."
"What?" He sat up and stared at me, looking confused.
"I thought you wanted me here…"
"I do!" I said quickly, "I do, it's just that he's so old and something might happen to him. I don't want to keep you from getting him safely home- he's your only family!"
"I can deal with him until you get back," I said, hoping I wasn't lying.
"I won't risk it."
"I'll explain everything to my father tonight! I promise and once he hears how Kalisk treated me he'll kick him out! I know he will!"
"I don't think it's a good idea."
"You need to help your father! I know I was really scared yesterday and I still am but I know I can win. I'm surrounded my people who care for me, he won't be able to get near me if I tell him." I continued hoping Helaku would believe me. I was scared but a good night's sleep had helped me get a grip on what was going on…and I couldn't let anything happen to Helaku's father. I wasn't going to make Helaku choose between protecting him father or me- it wasn't right.
"Just think about it! It makes sense, really." He was quiet for a few minutes.
" I'll agree if you promise me one thing."
"You didn't ever hear what it is yet!" He laughed.
"I trust you- I know you wouldn't ask me to do anything that would hurt me." I answered, saying what was in my head. He smiled and kissed my hand.
"I love you." He whispered, I smiled shocked to hear the words even though I had known it already.
"I love you too." I replied.
"If I go back with my father and do what you say," He said leaning close to me, his eyes intense, "Will you wait for me- will you marry me when I return?"
"Of course," I answered without hesitation. He smiled and kissed my hand again.
"You've made me the happiest person alive."
"The second happiest!" I laughed.
"Hmm, I don't think so!" He laughed and laid back down, I laid down beside him with his arm around me and together we watched the clouds go by.
We laid there most of the morning, sometimes talking, sometimes silent. It was perfect, I have never felt so light, so free since I was a little girl who believed everything in the world was good and kind.
"We should probably go back now," He said quietly, making no move to get up, "It's almost noon and your family will definitely be looking for you." I groaned and buried my face in his chest, refusing to move.
"That is a good point," He said with a laugh, "But we really should. Besides now there's a million things I need to do. I need to get ready to leave tomorrow, talk to my father, ask your father's permission to marry you…" I smiled and look up at him.
"That's going to be interesting," I laughed.
"You think he'll say no?" He asked in a worried voice.
"No, he can't really I mean you're the shaman's son. But he's going to be really confused because he has it in his head that I love Kalisk."
"Who the hell-"
"I don't know!" I laughed, "Probably because he believes his act and thinks he's the good man he pretends to be."
"And you are going to tell your father how he hit you right?" asked Helaku.
"Yes, of course! He needs to know what kind of my Kalisk really is."
"Definitely. So see we do have a lot to do." He said getting to his feet, and giving me his hand to help me stand up.
"Thanks." I said then paused, "Do we really have to go back?" I asked. Helaku laughed and rolled his eyes,
"It's not gonna be that bad, darling! And I'll be right by your side the whole time." He promised. I smiled,
"In that case lets go," I said and held out my hand. He took it and kissed my palm before we started walking back towards the village.
We went to the shaman, Helaku's father, first and told him everything- he didn't seem surprised at all and said he expected as much. I wasn't sure what he meant by that but Helaku said his father had known that he had loved me since we were children.
I was more nervous about going to my father and mother but I knew I would have to do it sooner or later so it was better to get it over with right away. My mother was shocked but she could see how much we loved each other and didn't argue with me. But my father was different, he was angry. He started yelling about how I had practically said yes to Kalisk, which was a lie, and how I was dishonoring the tribe…then I told him how Kalisk had threatened me and hit me and he immediately stopped yelling at me and started cursing Kalisk and saying what a good man Helaku was for saving me and stuff like that. I couldn't help but laugh in relief. But the problem still remained of how to get rid of Kalisk, because since he was a chief we couldn't just kick him out. My father said he would talk to him though and ask him to leave politely…but I really doubted that would work. As long as my father knew about this though then I would be safe, even when Helaku left because my father promised to tell his best warriors and have them keep Kalisk away from me.
I wish I could say it ended there, that every went perfectly after that. That Kalisk disappeared and never came back and that Helaku and I were married within the month, but that's not how it happened. Looking back now I wish I had seen some way to stop all of this, maybe if I had just killed Kalisk I would have saved everyone but I did…
So that evening Helaku and I clung to each other and it took all of my strength to let him go but there was this feeling of urgency inside my stomach begging me to send him away- I didn't understand it then all I knew is that Helaku couldn't stay with me, that if I wanted him to be mine forever I would have to send him away from a few days…
We heard nothing from Kalisk, he went around acting the part of the ideal man but I wasn't fooled, I kept an eye out from him and didn't stray away from the warriors my father had ordered to protect me. Helaku had decided to wait to leave with his father until the next day so we would have more time with each other. It was almost like some kind of torture- Helaku didn't want to leave me, he kept asking if I was sure and I kept having to say 'go! Leave!' when all I wanted was for him never to leave me side, but I knew he had to.
All night we stayed up, sitting huddled together by the fire whispering to each other until dawn. Then his father and him said their farewells and left- just like that he was gone from my life again. I was left to wait for what seemed like it would be an endless seven days for his return. But that wasn't meant to be either…
The next night, about an hour after midnight when the moon was a bright sliver of silver directly overhead was when it all fell apart. The whole village woke up to angry battle cries coming from all around the village. Before I could grab my bow, the village was full of hundreds of warriors.
Kalisk had brought his warriors and had them hide in the forest, when his plan to marry me and take over my father's land through me had failed he sent them to destroy us. And he did, fighting was useless- about half of us were dead before they had a chance to fight back, I started running when I saw Kalisk on horseback, riding towards my teepee. I wasn't joking when I said I would rather die then marry him so I ran.
He saw me though and tried to chase me down but someone shot his horse, I thought I had gotten away clean when something knocked me over. I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my right shoulder but I got up and kept running. It wasn't until I stopped running to chase my breath for a moment when I realized I had an arrow in my shoulder. It was deep and I pulled it out and wrapped my should the best I could, then kept on going. After a few miles I looked back but all I could see was the glow of a huge fire reflecting on the clouds- they had set fire to my village. I took a deep breath and turned around, Helaku was my only hope. I had heard rumor that the shaman's house was at the source of the river, the one I was running besides and I prayed to the great spirit that they were true. Because what could I do? I was just one girl, but I knew if there was anyone on earth who would help me save what was left of my tribe, my family, it would be Helaku.
I jogged on and on until I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open, then I climbed a tree and fell asleep. It took me two more days before I started getting close- I could tell because I was almost to the top of the mountain.
It was day three and I was getting worried- I was hungry and so tired, I had tried to find food to eat as I traveled but I was more focused speed then on my stomach. To put it simply I was spent, I managed to keep stumbling on and on. Then I saw it, a wood hut right besides the river with vines growing over it. I let and out a cry of joy and rushed forward, my body using the last of its strength as I crushed into the door and fell down inside.
"Dyani!" I heard as I fell to the ground, I smiled and reached out blindly for him, then it all went black…