It's quiet like a dream, the forest forbidden by the village. A girl wrapped in rags and an owl mask sits with the nocturnal creatures among the twisted branches. The overbearing trees slightly tilted over, intimidating any daring visitor.
They loudly hoot, laughing at me.
The girl's thin lips smile, but her eyes are dark and misty. She says, "Child of the wind, you have come by the wind's decree but I'm afraid you don't have a say."
The owls hoot, a mocking laugh but the wind moves and stifles their voices. The wind, it says to keep going.
"Child of the Wind," The girl calls me, "You may enter but you must give the forest something in return..."
As her lips move the wind rushes to steal her voice. And the wind picks me up from the ground and carries me away from the distant memory.
"You awake?" A redhead boy speaks. His clothes worn ragged and hair a bird nest.
I stand up from the dirty straw mat hidden by the trash in the dank alley way. I roll it up and use the attached ropes to tie it up and wear like a backpack. When I look up the boy is gone, so I go out with my eyes covered from the afternoon's sun.
Through the narrow streets of flowing crowds, I search for a job. Passerby and vendors watch me in a wary manner, wondering when I'll strike for their pockets of gold or goods. My bare feet hurt from the hot sand of this desert city. Ja, the city of sand and spiral, located in the west continent.
Climbing higher- the cluttered sandstone houses space out more, the people are less but more and more there are bright colors. The big houses are decorated with patterns and noble colors that are eye-catching like their owners' clothes. The streets are a little wider and stores stand on either side.
I walk into the bakery on the left. A pot bellied man with hairy arms and a mustache works behind the counter. Breaking, molding, rolling and flattening dough to put in a strange bowl. When he's done several dough, the owner finally looks up and sees me.
His tanned face breaks into a smile and tiny eyes under his heavy brows sparkle. He breaks into a belly laugh. "Are you here to work today my girl?" He asks me.
I nod my head before going behind the counter and grabbing an apron and the little broom in the corner. The broom made of a stick and peculiar leaves strangely works wonders. The sand that somehow entered the store is brushed outside.
The tables and counters are periodically cleaned. The guests are greeted. The day drags on slowly as usual but what makes the day are the chatting of the customers.
"Have you heard...the prince...party..."
The people talk and I quietly listen for information until the sun starts to decline and the sky bleeds dusk.
"Here you are girl." The owner hands me a bag of sweets and a little extra. "Are you sure about not coming back? There's not a lot of beggars who actually do work to get by here. Most have sticky fingers and some like to fight other beggars."
I simply nod my head. The wind brushes my cheek, reminding me that my time is soon over.
The owner gives a solemn sigh before saying, "Alright, you stay safe. A kid like you will be knocked down by the wind before you can even leave this city."
I nod in agreement but I cannot disobey the wind that calls. I smile and wave goodbye before the wind leads me onward, down near the exit of the city. The tiny houses shoulder-to-shoulder are dark but I enter the one by the right wall. The empty place is eerie as I walk further and by the stove in the corner, I tap a secret code.
A tan arm opens the door and I climb down the ladder to be greeted by a crowded room filled with people hidden by robes and masks. Only their eyes blinded by anger, envy, and righteousness can be seen. I squirm through the crowd to the round table where four men standing over a map.
The man in a black robe turns to me and says, "You are finally here, Owl. Come and write what you heard today at the bakery." He pats by a little scroll with ink sitting near and a dirty feather resting in the bottle.
At noon, the King's right-hand man discussed treason with an outsider. They plan to kidnap the only prince of Ja in exchange for the throne.
I write what I remember from the discussion. My handwriting messy as I write clumsily with childish hands. When I entered the unholy land, the things I should have I don't, and the time that should be is not. That includes my body, the time has changed and I'm not what I should be but one day I will grow up again, but not as it should already be.
The man grabs the paper as the feather gently rests on the table.
The man laughs and cries, "Yes. Yes, this is it! The break we needed! No longer will our people be oppressed by greedy tyrants. No longer will we be bandits to feed our family!" He holds the paper high. "Our people will be rich! Rich and full!"
The bandits in the room responds to their leader with a cheer.
"Tonight, we will be free!" Their leader proclaims boldly.
But the wind whispers in my ears a different story.