When Jenna had been a child, her parents had left the island she lived on. They said they were leaving to protect her. So when they never returned, she had not felt discomfort because she had mused that they were still shielding her from whatever was beyond the island, trying to attack her. Of course, following year after year with no report of their homecoming, she began to display doubt for their reunification.
Her neighbor, Gramma Gina, had taken the young girl in. She was an old woman with curly, silvery-white hair and a dimple in her left cheek. She looked like most of the elders on the island, except for a golden stripe running down the side of her head. It was hidden by her wild hair, but Jenna and the other inhabitants of the house knew about it. They were commanded not to alert anyone of its existence. The other inhabitants of the house were Gramma Gina's real family: Her daughter Callie; Callie's husband Ken; Her grandchildren, Madison and Lora; her sister Meg. Jenna shared a bedroom with Madison and Lora because the three girls were about the same age. Over time, she had gotten used to Madison waking up early to do her hair, and Lora would wake up to go running on the beach.
Jenna didn't care about either. She wanted to wake up every morning and cook breakfast. She loved cooking, but because her parents had been the warriors, she, by birthright, must become a warrior as well. Her training was during ordinary school hours. Why learn math and science if you were going to ward off predators? She did learn basic communications and codes to use when in the battlefield, and history of the island was important to know, for their ancient enemies had never completely perished.
And even as she entered the complex, she felt as if she were missing out on the true life experience. Did her parents want to fight? Were they forced by their parents?
"Formation one, cadets," barked the Instructor. He was a tough and unforgiving man with a brawny build and rough exterior. Disappointing him was not an option. Jenna stood behind a girl with blond hair, the girl she always stood behind in formation one. Her knees were bent, spread apart, legs aligned with her squared shoulders, hands spread by her sides, aware of her surroundings. "If you practiced the maneuver we learned yesterday then the next lesson will be no problem. We will be learning how to disarm opponents." The Instructor's assistant walked around the classroom passing out batons. The blonde in front of Jenna twirled it in her fingers with expert awareness.
Jenna never felt nervous during combat training. She had lost many training sessions, but she kept her positive attitude apparent, determined not to let the winner have satisfaction. So later, when the blond-haired girl knocked Jenna off of her feet with the grace of a panther, she simpered and held out a hand to her. The other girl was competitive though and did not shake her hand. At the end of the day, all of the practice batons were returned to the Instructor, and they left to go home.
When Jenna stepped through the door, she could sense the unease crowding the small hut. Ken was sitting on the sofa with Callie; their daughters were not yet home. In between them was Gramma Gina, looking very pale.
"Jenna," whispered Callie, reaching her arms out. Jenna sat next to Callie, letting the older woman wrap her arms around her shoulders. "My mother has fallen ill."
"Take her to a treatment center!" Jenna exclaimed as if it were obvious. Ken shook his head.
"If we take her there, they will notice her tattoo." Ken sounded very distraught. Gramma Gina chuckled at Ken's words.
"It is no tattoo," Gramma Gina rasped. "It is gold. They put gold in my face."
"Who did? Who put gold in your face?" Jenna asked. Ken and Callie exchanged quick glances. They were both anxious. "Why won't you tell me?"
"It's a family secret," Ken said rather quietly. Jenna noticed they were looking around at the windows and the door. "Gramma Gina was a member of a tribe of Natives. They practiced energy healing, the ability to manipulate energy on Earth to heal people of their sickness and physical pains. And it worked because they had reached another level of consciousness.
"But when the government had massacred the Natives because they wanted the land, they brought along their new medicines. These medicines and prescriptions have terribly negative side-effects. They have all of these side-effects that could be fixed by either natural plant medicines, eating and living healthily or energy healing. Our government banned all of these so that we would buy their awful medicines that make you buy more medicines because of the outcomes they have.
"Gramma Gina survived the massacre. The Natives had implanted designs of gold in their face so that they could identify each other, but it was also their downfall, for anyone in the government could recognize them. That's why we have hidden her. Unbeknownst to you three children, she has used the healing every night to heal the bruises and scratches you come home with, or the aching legs and back the girls have after a workout."
"Can she save herself?" Jenna asked timidly.
Callie worried at her lower lip. Ken gripped his wife's hand and replied breathlessly, "No,"
"Then what do we do?" Jenna whimpered. She could feel the pressure of tears forming behind her eyelids, and the room started to become blurry. Gramma Gina was practically her grandmother. She was the only family that she had after her parents had left. When she was a scared little girl wandering her house, waiting for the arrival of her parents, Gramma Gina had welcomed her into her family, making a vow to minister to her needs.
But Jenna wouldn't have that anymore.
Jenna rushed into her room and sat on the bed, elbows resting on her thighs, face buried in her hands. She took deep breaths, trying to calm down as the Instructor had taught her. It wasn't working. She quickly grabbed her backpack with her training clothes and supplies in it and ran out of the door. She ran all the way to a treatment center where she finally stopped to breathe. Inside the rather small medical complex were two doctors. Upon seeing Jenna, one of them approached her.
"Is there something the matter, miss?" the doctor asked her.
"My grandmother," Jenna said, still out of breath. "My grandmother has fallen very ill." The doctor nodded, understanding. He went to talk to the other doctor, and soon, they were back at Gramma Gina's house with medical supplies. Jenna opened the door and welcomed the gentleman inside. Ken and Callie sat up, alarmed.
"Ken, Callie, I brought a doctor," Jenna announced. Ken got up and grabbed Jenna's arm.
"You shouldn't have done this," Ken whispered in her ear violently. Jenna was taken aback by the sudden anger apparent in the usually calm voice of Ken's. Madison and Lora walked out of the hallway, surprised at the guests they now had. Gramma Gina kept batting the doctor's hand away. She didn't want him touching her. As she raised her arm to dismiss him again, her hair fell back, revealing the gold stripe that ran from her temple to her jaw. The doctor stepped back, horror and hatred in his eyes.
Callie and Ken gave each other the same face: terror. The doctor ran out of the hut.
"Girls, pack a bag," Callie commanded. Everyone with the exception of Jenna and Gramma Gina sprang into action. Jenna watched them all scurry like ants around the house, packing away blankets and clothes and food. They were leaving the island. After a few minutes of Jenna standing next to the couch, not knowing what to do, three of the island warriors demolished the door from its hinges. Jenna protectively and instinctively pulled her baton out of the sheath attached to her bag. The warriors walked past her and Gina, to Jenna's surprise, and walked into the hallway, later returning with Ken, Callie, Madison, and Lora, all with hands tied behind their backs. One officer escorted them outside while the other two approached Gramma Gina. With a swift flourish, Jenna disarmed both of them and knocked them off their feet.
"Jenna Ramirez," said the first officer on the floor. "You have betrayed your fellow warriors. It is treason if you are to resist us."
"I will not let you take Gramma Gina," Jenna said fiercely.
"Your grandma is a witch," the other officer remarked snidely. "She must be executed." But they made no move to get up, Jenna held her baton squarely. Slowly, focusing on the officers, she helped Gramma Gina to her feet. They started to walk out of the door when one of the officers jumped up and attacked Jenna. She defended herself with her baton. Soon, that warrior was unconscious. She walked Gina out of the door as rapidly as possible. They speed-walked down the streets, trying to get to the docks. Several warriors blocked their path. Still keeping hold of Gramma Gina, Jenna parried their attacks, leaving them to accidentally strike each other.
Before any more warriors tried to prevent them from leaving the island, Jenna and Gina had made it to the docks. Gina coughed violently as Jenna lowered her into a rowboat.
"Jenna," Gina rasped. "Jenna, Jenna, my dear Jenna,"
"You're okay, Gramma Gina," Jenna said, though she was trying to comfort herself. Jenna was on the verge of boarding the rowboat when three warriors advanced upon her. Jenna did not notice until one of them clubbed her in the rib cage. She lost her balance and fell off the dock, scratching her cheek in the process. When she resurfaced, Gramma Gina was gone and so were the warriors. When she touched her cheek, her scratch was gone, only a faint scar.
Jenna had grown up on another island where she had a new family of her own. She had taught them the truth of energy healing and doctors and how a government can get exactly what they want by manipulation. She had embedded gold powder into the scar on her cheek as a tribute to Gramma Gina's sacrifice. She had also rescued Callie and Ken and their daughters. They practiced energy healing, starting their own hospital on their island for the inhabitants to come and be healed naturally.
While living on a neighbor island to the one she wished to escape forever was not optimal, her previous home never bothered her. They let her lead her life the way she wanted to lead it. And she had led it to brighten the future of the people of this island and her children.
One day, exploring the land for more places to build homes and markets, she found her parents who had been living there, hoping to find a way back to their previous home to find her. When they had reunited, Jenna had thanked them for everything they had done, even if they couldn't come back for her. Her parents were recruited as guards for the island.
Jenna's tragedy had paved the way for a brighter future for her civilization. She would not let her lessons be forgotten in vain. And Gramma Gina was forever viewed as a hero on the island, a memorial dedicated to her. Jenna is the peacemaker.
I did not have much help editing, other than a suggestion by my friend who would not enjoy being named. I would love to thank my mother however for the information and inspiration she had provided me in the process of writing this story. And of course a large thanks to all who read this!