Day Ten: 1,278 words (13,638 total.)
Omoachel didn't get much sleep. The thunder and pounding of the winds kept her up most of the night. The light had finally come back and all seemed quiet and still. Although, it was too quiet. She would always hear a bird chirping or rodents squeaking, but today was silent and it worried her. She got up from her bed and walked into the main room to turn on the hearth. As curious as she was, she was nervous to look out the window. What if the village was destroyed? What if it were silent because everyone was gone?
While the water on the hearth heated, she readied the strainer and tea leaves. Omo wondered when her aunt would be home. Or IF she'd be home! What if she blew away in the storm? ...could that even happen? I mean, how much can wind even lift? The little girl ceased these silly thoughts. Her aunt would be home...eventually.
The water began to boil and Omoachel made her cup of tea. She brought it outside to the backyard. She noticed the tall bushes were disheveled and many parts were missing leaves and branches. This frightened her even more about how the village must look. She sipped her tea and burned her mouth. Throwing her cup she cried out, but no one was around to hear. Annoyed, Omoachel, walked back inside and out the front door.
It was as she feared. Laborers worked to restore the gardens of the other huts on the plateau. She descended the pathway. Laborers worked to restore roofs, fences, and walls. She descended further into the square. The awning was gone and laborers worked to rebuild that as well. She was curious if her school still stood, but a large palm blocked off that pathway. The village was in shambles...but where was everyone? Omoachel walked out onto the beach and found a fair-sized gathering. She approached the crowd and tried to make out what was happening. They stood around mounds of sand topped with a large stick of burning incense. There was a death in the village. There were five sticks. Five deaths.
Omoachel left the beach. She didn't want to think of who must have died. As she walked back to the square she noticed her aunt exiting the longhouse.
"Aunt Talau!" she called out and rushed to her.
The chieftess motioned for Omo to keep quiet and as she exited, a boy exited with her. His face turned red like a betelnut when he saw the girl. But Talau grasped his arm and pulled him with her up the western pathway. The little girl followed close behind, confused as to what was happening. When Talau reached the plateau she saw Mesaul and without thought, pushed Beroel into a bush to hide. Omoachel looked mortified as Talau whistled to cover up her odd antics. The banker stared at the conspicuous couple and just shook his head as he descended the pathway. Talau looked ahead and saw Imangel and her son exiting their hut.
She turned to Omo, "I'm going to distract them. Grab the boy and run to our hut."
"But-" before she could object, her aunt had already skipped over to the treasurer's family.
The little niece crouched into the bushes and found the boy. They stared at each other for a moment, equally uncomfortable. Omo looked over at her aunt. One could only beg to know what she had to say to them to pay attention to her for that long. Finally, the girl clutched his arm and yanked him out of the bushes and hauled towards the hut door. Beroel made a gulp that sounded like a snake devouring a porcupine. But at last, they made it inside without alerting anyone...somehow.
Omo turned to him, "What is this all about?"
He fidgeted, "Uhhh...well, it's a long story...but you know that woman?"
Omoachel crossed her arms, "Yes! And she's not 'that woman' she's the chieftess!"
Beroel would burrow into a hole if he were born a mole instead of a man, "Duly noted. Well, your friend, the chieftess, uhh, I'm helping her with something and uh-"
"With what? Fixing the bushes in our yard?"
His heart sank, "...yep."
Talau rushed in and slammed the door behind them, "Dear spirits, if I have to pretend to be interested in her gossip again in my life it'll be the end of me."
She could view the tension in the room clearly, "So, Omo, this is Beroel and Beroel, this is my niece Omoachel. I hope you two will get along."
"Why do I need to know his name?" the girl asked, "He'll be gone when the bushes are hedged, won't he?"
Talau scratched her head, "I take it there was some confusion in the initial meeting of you two?"
Omoachel growled, "There's no confusion! You're all trying to be secretive but I'm onto both of you! Aunt Talau, how would you even know the bushes were all messed up unless you were already here! And why would you try to hide that you were having lawn work done unless you were trying to-"
"Omo, baby, you're really way off mark here." her Aunt said, confused.
The little girl groaned and ran out to the backyard.
Talau sighed, "Well, at least we don't have to worry about her telling everyone you're here."
Beroel didn't look up.
"What's wrong?" She sat down beside him.
"She didn't even remember me."
Talau thought for a moment, "But that's a good thing. She won't tell anyone if she doesn't remember you were the boy from the trial."
He groaned, "How does she keep forgetting me?"
Talau was not clued in to what was going on. And, to be honest, she was not trying to get into the dilemma of a young boy so she left him alone and went to the backyard to check on Omoachel. Her niece sat by the totems with her arms folded.
"Omo dear, what's wrong?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
She sat with her, "I know you do. Just tell me."
The girl's lips trembled and everything came out flowing, "I couldn't sleep and then I woke up feeling awful so I made tea but then it burnt my mouth so I walked around outside and everything's ruined and there's a funeral on the beach and then I finally found you and your acting all weird and you wouldn't even tell me you were getting the yard landscaped!"
Talau held onto her tiny niece as she sobbed, "Things will get better, Omo. That's what I'm trying to do, make things better."
The little girl looked up, "I just want you to be here."
Talau sighed, "My role of Chief keeps me busy," she held Omo's hand tight, "But there will come a day when our people are safe and I will stay home and read you bedtime stories."
Omoachel hugged her aunt tight, "That's all I want."
Talau smiled, but it quickly faded, "But until that day comes, I have much work to do."
Omoachel let go and wiped her tears, "Why isn't the gardener attending the bushes?"
The chieftess had a worried look on her face, "That...is another thing I need to talk to you about..."
The door opened and both girl looked up. Beroel stood with an awkward smile and waved.
Talau laughed, "This is the first warrior of the Zehnai army."
Beroel tried to join in with the chieftess's laughter but it was very difficult as he watched Omoachel stare at him and break every bone in his body with her eyes.