Aiyana had butterflies in her stomach as she sat still, as her mother wove her hair into the traditional squash blossom hairdo. It was a signal to the young men that she was an unmarried eligible women. Her head hurt as her mother pulled out the carved piece of wood that shaped the blossom. She was of age... marrying age. She sat and looked at the young men of the village wondering which one would ask her to be his wife.
Her eyes rested on Ituha... such a funny name for a boy. Ituha was traditionally a girls name. Aiyana watched him closely as he helped the other men lift some dirt clay onto the wall they were building. His small muscles glistened in the sun and she saw he lived up to his name of "Sturdy Oak". Even if it WAS a girls name, the name suited him just fine.
She blushed as his eyes caught her looking at him. He gave her a smile. He too would be eligible for marriage after he passed THE test in a few days. She would wait for him. He was her favorite of all the young men in the village. They would play together when they were little. His mother and her mother were friends until the day Ituha's mother died. That was a somber day. Aiyana remembered the warmth of Ituha's hand, under hers, as she tried to sooth him and tell him that he and his little brother, Chepi would be o.k.
THAT one was a strange one... Chepi... Always saying that their world was coming to an end. If she hears one more time about his dream of how the rain would "fall too hard and too long" and of how it would "wash away their home, and bury them in it" she would scream!
WHAT did he suppose they were to do? Leave the comfort and protection of the cliffs? They were not a people that liked change. Moving, was out of the question even if the land WAS drying up, and their crops yielded smaller food supplies. Aiyana had heard all the stories when she was little... of how their ancestors had moved from the big waters where the land flooded constantly and washed away their crops. How it took years to find these cliffs and and how the elders had deemed them safe and sound.
And now Chepi.. with his predictions. How did HE think he knew better than the elders? They were soooo high up and the big water was far away. The thought of them being washed away made her laugh.
Her head tugged as she laughed. Her mother yelled at her to quit moving, so she could finish the last bit of weaving her hair. Aiyana felt a drop of water fall on her nose. Great... it was starting to rain. Her new hairdo would be ruined if she stayed outside. She quickly helped her mother pack up and move to their home inside the cliff walls. She wished she could see what she looked like with her new hairdo.
The rain was coming down hard as she and her mother brought the last of their things inside their cliff home. Aiyana looked around at their home. She touched the walls just to be sure they were sturdy. "Silly girl.. of course they are strong.. nothing can bring these walls down." She smiled and when on with her chores.
It rained for days, and at times, long and hard. Aiyana kept herself busy with her chores. Today she was weaving a new basket. She was lucky she had brought enough reeds in before it had started raining. She was happy to have something to do. As the thunder boomed it's voice she jumped, and when the sound was of just rain again she could hear shouting coming from outside the walls. She put down her now finished basket and went to the door just as Chepi, and then Ituha rushed by.
Ituha was yelling for Chepi to stop, but the boy was too fast for him and down the cliff walls before Ituha could stop him. The rain was pounding harder and Aiyana could barely make out the words that Ituha yelled after his little brother. She saw Ituha throw up his arms in disgust. She grabbed her shawl and ran out to Ituha. She begged him to come inside out of the rain but he yelled to her that he needed to go after his little brother. He grabbed a water sack and started down the cliff wall.
She was still begging him to turn around when she realized she had followed him down the cliff. The rain hurt her shoulders even through the shawl she had grabbed. NOW.. how was she going to get back UP the cliff??? The rain had washed all but a little bit of the mud stairs away. She was sure she could NOT make it back up by herself... and Ituha had no intentions of helping her back up. He was still chasing after his little brother through the bushes. She ran after him until she finally caught up with him. Her new hairdo was drenched and the squash blossoms were soaked with rain.
They reached the taller bushes, the boundary for boys Chepi's age, when a giant flash of lightning blinded them both. Neither one of them could see Chepi sitting in the distance just a little ahead of them. When their eyes cleared they could see a great gush of water flowing over the top of the cliff that was their home. Big chunks of rock and sand broke off as they watched, and crashed to the ground with such a might that the ground shook. After moments of staring in horror, eyes wide, they realized they were at the bottom of the cliff. Instictively they grabbed hands and started running through the bushes into the woods.
They ran for hours only stopping to grab a few sips of water from the sack. Chepi's trail had been long washed away by the hard rain and now they were lost. They found themselves on the top of a high hill. In the distance they could see the cliff they called home... now with a big hole in it. Chepi's warnings rang in their ears, like the words of the ghost he was named after. He HAD warned them and now they felt foolish for not listening to him.
They held each other tight. They were the last of their people. Their family and friends all dead. There was no turning back. Only a foot foward. Would they find Chepi??? Only time would tell.