by Chenice Louise Clarke
2011-12 NEBADOR Writing Contest, second place tie
Sata reflects on her life and values upon walking into the large bay in Book Two: Journey.
I remember when I would wipe tables and run errands for mother and father at the inn. I would be so happy if a guest would give me a coin, just one small coin, and I remember thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world -- well maybe not the world, but in the capital city at least. I would work hard every day to show my father that I was just as strong and able as my brother, even though I knew that no matter how hard I tried, my brother would still be given the inn. That's how it had been in the past, and my father wasn't about to change any rules like that any time soon.
When Ilika came to stay at our inn, of all the places he could have gone, I knew that I had a chance -- maybe only a tiny chance, but still a chance -- that I could do something like have an adventure and learn new things.
I was so scared when I asked Ilika if he would consider girls on his trip, and I remember I nearly dropped the plate I was holding, but was very happy with his answer. I think maybe he was shocked I asked him that question, but I had to ask -- I don't know any girls that are allowed to do the same things as boys, and that's not fair! I do miss the inn a lot, but looking at the bay now with my teacher and friends, I know that I made the right choice to leave, and I'm happy mother and father allowed me to go.
I remember during one of Ilika's lessons, asking him what I should do if two people asked me for something at the same time. I thought I would have to answer them both really quickly and not give a full answer so that I didn't upset either person. It reminded me when mother would ask me to fetch some spices and father would ask me to wash the floor. I would worry that one of them may be upset with me, so I tried to do both at the same time, which was very hard and often impossible. I wish I had realized then that sometimes you just have to choose the most important question first and answer it. Sometimes it's hard but I now know that even if another person is a little upset with me, once I explain why I answered someone else first, they will understand why I made that decision.
That's what I like about my new family -- we talk a lot. We talk about our feelings and our decisions and our hopes, and that never happened back at the inn. My brother would ignore me, and my parents were always busy helping the guests at the inn. I guess back home I always respected my parents, but I also feared them in the same way I feared the steam vent -- like I told Ilika when we were talking about the area in general. I was scared and Ilika told me that while I should respect and be careful of the steam vent, I should never fear it. I didn't know that before.
It was tough being at the steam vent, but I know that I had to stay that extra day to make peace with the land and myself so I could move on. I didn't want to be scared of another steam vent, should I see one again, or anything else I had never seen before. It's kind of like leaving the inn and my family -- it was scary because I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if Ilika would decide he had made a wrong decision, even though I tried and still try to be a really good student. I answer questions and make sure I do my share, like back home, so that's why I arranged for the pouches of salt, dried sage, and dried onions back at the farmer's cottage. I wanted to show my new family that I would be a good crew member because not only was working at the inn kind of like a crew, but I'm starting to think life is full of lots of little crews.
I get scared because even though I try really hard, I feel like sometimes there are other people who are better than me. That feeling upsets me because I want to do well and be chosen for Ilika's crew. I want to see if Ilika's ship has white sails because I like the color white. White is clean and it reminds me of when mother and I would put clean sheets on the guests' beds at the inn. It's like a new start and I like that. I like that you can make a new start, and even though I'm only 10, a new start is always a good idea ... sometimes. I think that Ilika gave me a new start when he came into the inn and he decided that I could come on this journey with him. Despite being scared of the stream vent, thinking I was going to die, I didn't. I think that I'm going to be okay now. Actually, I know I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be okay because I want to be okay, and if I want something enough and work for it enough, I can do it. I think that means I can be part of Ilika's crew.
I look at Boro and Mati, and all of my other new friends, and I see that even though they were slaves and dealt with terrible things, they all have hope and they're all strong. I think that one day I can be strong like them. Sure, I have strong arms from my hard work at the inn, but I want to be strong in my mind. I think I'm getting stronger every day. I mean I don't get scared so quickly now. Also, I trust more and I think that's important to being happy and being on Ilika's crew. Actually, trusting is very important which is why I trusted Ilika. More than that, that's why I trusted myself. That's why I still trust myself.