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After her mother’s death, the narrator finds solace in nature

My pale, bare feet received tickles from the short, lime-green grass. My chocolate-brown eyes didn’t shift their gaze. The burning, fiery sun bathed my back until it hurt, but I didn’t change my speed. The large golden orb began to fall down. I looked back and started running to the grassy hill. I began climbing, my hands grasping the boulders buried in the dirt. A sharp rock met my right foot, and I let out an agonizing squeal. However, I kept climbing, up to the top.

I lay down and stared up above at the infinite pink-and-orange ceiling, covered in white cotton candy. The sun was too bright to look at. I sat back up onto my knees and gazed at the tall trees, with giant green party hats resting on top of their branches. A flock of birds passed over the hill, and I smiled, letting the sun seep into my olive-tinted body before it left too. Then, my eyes grew to the size of the moon.

Frantically, I searched for a pebble. After minutes of pebble hunting, there it was. Gray and shiny, round and perfect. I cupped it in my palms and kissed it. Then, I held it up to the sky, as if offering it to a friend. “I have  a gift for you, Mama. I know you loved the sunset, and I wanted to give you another pebble for your collection,” I whispered.

The sun’s round body was barely visible now, and the sky was turning navy blue, speckled with tiny white dots. My eyes turned glassy. “I love you,” I quietly sobbed and threw it into the mouth of the sky.

I wiped the pool of tears from my eyes with my wrist, and stood up to leave. The stars were glittering together, like a family. Family. I took a deep breath and began sprinting back to an old tiny cottage with a red tiled roof and uncut grass, bushes and weeds sprouting out from every side and corner. I hurried inside my home and began supper. There was a note on the kitchen table.

I had to leave for the village. Will be back in a few days. Do all your chores.
Sincerely, Father.

I kicked a bronze chair leg with my bare feet, and even though the pain was excruciating, it felt good to let out all my anger. Every day, of every week, of every month, my dad would leave a similar note. I hadn’t seen him for five months, three weeks, and two days. I began to question if he even wanted me. I sighed, and added some vegetables and water into the boiling pot. I seasoned it by sprinkling some pepper, and let the vegetable stew boil for a bit. Finally, the burning-hot stew was ready to eat. After pouring a few ladles of the stew into my bowl, my belly was stuffed, and I washed my dirty dishes in the sink until they became shiny and spotless. Then, I stomped up to my tiny, bland bedroom. The only colors in it were my periwinkle curtains and my bed, draped in a soft, violet blanket. I didn’t even wash up, and immediately threw myself onto the bed. But no matter how hard I tried, sleep wouldn’t come.

They weren’t happy tears, but they weren’t sad either. They were just a mixture of everything.

The next morning, I combed my silky, shimmering black hair. Its tips tickled my waist. My eyes were puffy and red, and I yawned several times. My eyes blinked slower and slower, but luckily, the loud caw of the crows got me back up to my senses. I quickly put my hair into a plait and rushed downstairs and out the door to grab some eggs. The red, tiny egg pen was my favorite part of my home. The chickens clucked, and I laughed. I gently grabbed some eggs and placed them in the basket. This was always the hardest part. I looked down at my toes and left. Whenever I picked the eggs, it made me feel like a monster. It reminded me of the war that killed my mama. I rushed back into the pen and laid out the eggs safe and sound with their mothers. I wasn’t going to let their family be taken away too.

I strolled up my favorite hill. Our favorite hill. When I was five, me and Mama would come up here and gaze at the sky until the sun was down. We would dance on this hill, play on this hill, and even sleep on this hill. If Mama was anywhere, it would be here. Wait. That was it. I widened my eyes, and laid out all the pebbles I could find, until I finished my masterpiece. I had formed the words, “Mama Hill.” I buried my face in my hands as I hiccuped tears. They weren’t happy tears, but they weren’t sad either. They were just a mixture of everything. I sat on my knees. This was now officially Mama Hill.

Myiesha Jain, 11
Tokyo, Japan