dottylotti's entry into the Summer Prose Competition 2010
The sun was high in the sky and blazing down as Amira reached Port Cayaen. The walls towered high above her, stretching up towards the sky. Her heart fluttered with nervousness and excitement. This was the first time she had travelled outside her tiny coastal village and the capital city of Bayen looked enormous to her young country girl's eyes.
She saw the gates that would take her into the city. They were made out of strong wood and armed guards blocked the way into the city. Pulling her cloth satchel onto her shoulder, she approached one of the guards.
'What is your business here?' The guard demanded. Amira could feel her knees shaking under her dress but she stood tall, knowing she had the right to be there.
'I have come to stay with my aunt, Mistress Hatrian, a servant in the royal palace.' Amira gave herself a mental pat on the back for not crumbling under the first section of official scrutiny.
'Papers,' the guard barked, holding out his hand. Amira took out the bundle of papers her mother had given her before leaving home. Whatever you do, don't lose them, Mistress Rojas has said to her daughter, handing her the important travelling papers. 'Everything seems fine.' The guard said, handing back the papers and putting his hand back on the hilt of his sword. 'Welcome to Port Cayaen.'
Amira walked onto the first street and her jaw dropped. She had never seen so many people in her life before. Everyone was rushing around buying or selling any number of items from food to clothes. The brown coloured stone houses were built close together and the streets were filthy but Amira didn't notice. To her this was the best place on earth and the bright sun hid all the city's flaws. All Amira could see was the turrets of the royal palace emerging from the grey roofs of the city and she stood, transfixed at the sheer size of everything.
'Hey look out!' Someone collided with Amina, sending her sprawling on the ground.
'Sorry.' Amira mumbled, pulling herself up from the floor and brushing down her now muddy skirt. She carefully made her way down the main street, pushing her way through the crowds of people preparing for the royal festival.
Coloured ribbons were being strung up from house to house by men on ladders, the women supervising from the safety of the ground. None of them took any notice of Amira as she wandered aimlessly past, gawking at every new sight. Well not everyone failed to notice her.
'What are you staring at?' A large woman, sleeves rolled up over her elbows and built like a tree trunk, advanced towards Amira.
'Nothing,' the girl said. 'I was just admiring the ribbons.' Her face looked totally innocent but the woman moved closer, wanting to pick a fight, knowing that she would win against this small country girl who didn't know how to handle herself.
'I think you should move along and stare at someone else.' Amira felt fear rise up in her stomach and she began to back away from the woman who towered above her. 'That's right run away little girl.' The woman laughed as Amira made a quick get away down the street.
'Get back here Joan, we need you!' The man closest to Joan was looking quite unstable with no-one holding the base of his ladder but Amira didn't stick around to find out what happenned next. Instead she took a right turn onto a street with a familiar name. Jakson Street.
Seeing the dirty street sign, Amira fumbled around in her satchel for the crumpled piece of paper that had her aunt's address written on it. 58 Jakson Street. She was on the right street.
Jakson Street wasn't as crowded as some of the other streets, partly because it had already been decorated for the festival, and partly because it led away from the centre of the city. There were still small groups of people hanging around by doorways and in alleyways, whispering and talking to each other but it wasn't impossible to walk up the street.
Amira counted carefully until she reached house number 58, where she knocked on the door. A friendly face answered. Messy blonde curls fell out from under a white cap to surround a plump face, where sparkling blue eyes smiled at her.
'You made it! I was starting to get worried.' Amira was pulled into a tight embrace and led inside. 'You must tell me all the news from your mother, she hasn't written to me in an age.'
Amira felt instantly at home with her aunt. The house was small, with only two rooms downstairs, one of which was the cosy front room where Amira was taken. There were a few battered chairs and a small bookcase, but no other furniture filled the room. There was a fireplace against one stone wall but there was no fire lit there. Amira felt that she would fit in here very well.