Chapter 6 – Leave Her Alone
Though it was sunny and hot, the women were sewing garments and cooking. When some of the men returned early from hunting afar, the women were confused. Yellow Feather sadly held Little Sparrow, who was unconscious, on his lap as he rode his horse toward the village. When he rode up to Great Eagle’s teepee, Red Sun became frightened and raced to meet them.
“What happened to the boy?” asked Great Eagle.
“He fell down the side of a hill. The hill broke from under him and he fell,” said Yellow Feather. Red Sun hysterically said, “Help my son! I cannot lose him too!”
Great Eagle examined Little Sparrow’s arm as Yellow Feather sadly said, “I think it is broken.”
Great Eagle shook his head, but still appeared concerned. “I must put it back in place. He will be in great pain.”
Red Sun cried out loudly, “Please help my son!”
Yellow Feather entered Great Eagle’s teepee, Little Sparrow still in his arms. Red Sun was about to follow when Great Eagle stopped her.
“Please stay outside. You will make it worse.” Surprised, Red Sun nodded, even as she cried. “Please don’t let him die,” she said.
“He will not die.”
Another woman walked up to her and consoled her as Great Eagle entered his teepee. Moments went by and suddenly Little Sparrow screamed within the tee-pee at the top of his lungs.
After a couple of weeks passed, and the men were about to go hunting again, Little Sparrow – his arm in a sling – ran up to Yellow Feather and asked, “May I come with you?”
“You must rest your arm or your arm will not heal.” “I feel better.”
“Your mother will be angry. I promise when your arm heals we will go hunting together, just the two of us.”
He smiled and patted the boy on his shoulder. As Yellow Feather walked away, Little Sparrow looked at the ground in disappointment, and then walked to his mother’s teepee. Later that day, as he was watching the children play, he stared at Ayira’s teepee, which was on the other side at the edge of the village. She stood in front of it and he noticed a spear in her hand.
When she walked into the woods, Little Sparrow excitedly told his mother, “I am going to the waterfall.”
Red Sun looked worried as she hesitantly replied, “Please – be careful. I do not want to lose you.” “Mother, I will be fine.”
She reluctantly nodded her head, and Little Sparrow hurried into the woods.
He darted behind a tree and some bushes when he reached Ayira at the waterfall. With her spear in her hand, she was standing in ankle-deep water and patiently waiting for a fish to swim close. When she finally threw her spear, she missed. As she yelled in anger, she looked directly at the tree Little Sparrow was hiding behind.
Surprised, the boy remained hidden. When he took a peek, he saw Ayira walking away from the water toward the woods. He followed her while still staying hidden behind trees.
Ayira stopped and kept her back to Little Sparrow, but shouted, “Why are you following me?”
She turned around and stared at the tree he was squatting behind. Little Sparrow hesitantly stood up and showed himself.
“Why are you following me?”
She walked closer as she waited for a response, but Little Sparrow just stared at her fearfully.
“If you are afraid of me, then why do you follow me? Did they tell you to follow me? If you do not understand me, then you will understand this.” She pointed her spear at Little Sparrow’s face, but he was too scared to move.
Ayira sighed, lowered the spear, and started to walk away. Little Sparrow followed her, but she quickly turned around and asked, “What are you doing?”
She waved at him to go away, but he just stared at her anxiously, and asked, “Can I come with you?” “I do not have the gift of speaking your language, like Imani. Go away... Go back to your people.” He pointed at her spear and said, “I have seen you hunt with that. I like the way you hunt with it.”
She looked at him for a moment, then pointed the weapon at him again and said, “Do you want this?” He held out his hand, but she pulled the spear back, and sternly asked, “Will you leave me alone?”
Little Sparrow stared at her, not understanding a word she said. Frustrated, she gave him the spear then stomped her foot at him. As he quickly ran away, Ayira watched until she could no longer see him.
Later that day, Ayira was hunting in a meadow. The grass was very high, so she crouched down to watch a couple of deer as they ate, and then carefully blew a poison dart at one of the deer. The deer ran away, but she followed its tracks until she came upon the dying animal, which struggled to walk. When it finally fell to the ground, Ayira hurried to it and cut its throat with her knife. She sat down and sadly stared at the deer, then put her hand on it as she whispered prayers to it. Little Sparrow slowly walked up to her. Startled, she quickly stood up and angrily said, “Did I not tell you to go away?”
Little Sparrow held out the spear to Ayira. “Can you show me how you hunt with this?”
Unable to understand him, she asked, “You want to give it back? I do not need it… I will make a better one.”
Little Sparrow mimicked the way she had thrown the spear, but she still looked puzzled. He turned around and threw his spear as hard as he could at a nearby tree, but it barely stuck in the tree.
As he hurried to retrieve the spear, Ayira watched him in disgust. She said, “You cannot balance well with one arm,” and snatched the spear out of his hand.
Placing her left arm behind her back, she spread her legs wider to better balance herself and then threw the spear at the tree with little effort. Little Sparrow smiled at her as the spear stuck deep into the tree.
“I want to throw it like that.”
She just looked at him and then walked back to the deer. Little Sparrow retrieved the spear as Ayira struggled to pick up the deer. When she finally lifted it over her shoulders, he asked, “Can you show me?”
She turned to him and simply stared, trying to hold back her sadness. “Leave me alone,” she said, and then walked away.
Little Sparrow thought for a moment, then caught up to her. As he followed closely behind her, Ayira rolled her eyes and sighed. When she had been walking ahead of Little Sparrow for some time, she quickly stopped. The boy stepped closer to Ayira and tried to talk to her, but she hurriedly put her hand to his mouth to stop him from speaking. Little Sparrow glanced around, but he saw nothing. When he looked back at Ayira, she was staring at a large boulder in front of them and was obviously scared of something.
A man was crouched by the boulder. Ayira crept closer to him, and then carefully peeked over his shoulder, only to realize he was cutting open a dead women’s stomach. Horrified, she stepped back and hurried over to Little Sparrow, pushing him to move away.
“What is wrong? I do not see anything? What do you see?”
The man got up and looked at Ayira and Little Sparrow. She turned and pushed the boy again, but he would not leave.
“What is wrong?”
Ayira shook as she whispered, “Go – go now, please.”
Little Sparrow shook his head, not understanding. The man walked toward them, so Ayira moved to stand in front of Little Sparrow to shield him. Little Sparrow kept peeking around the terrified young woman in an attempt to see what she was protecting him from. The man stood face-to-face with Ayira.
In a thick foreign accent, he asked, “Whose child is it?” Ayira was too scared to comprehend his question. “Whose child is it?”
Ayira was shaking and sweating profusely in terror. Little Sparrow tugged on her skirt to get her attention.
“Ayira, what is wrong?”
She put her hand behind her back and tried to push him away, waving at him to go. Confused, Little Sparrow started to slowly back away.
The man saw Little Sparrow and asked angrily, “Who does the child belong too?” He walked toward the boy and tried to grab his arm, but Ayira stepped in between them. Little Sparrow was startled and quickly ran away.
He ran as fast as he could through the woods and quickly arrived at his village. He bent over gasping for breath but kept looking back at the thick trees, hoping to see Ayira. He saw nothing.
Shaking with fright, he yelled into the trees, “Ayira – Ayira...”
Disheartened, as he stood to wait for Ayira, he suddenly heard something rustling in the trees. Ayira jumped out of the thick trees and fell to the ground. Relieved, Little Sparrow knelt down to assist her.
Trembling and short of breath, she got up on all fours and vomited. She rubbed her neck in pain and noticed the terrified boy. Grabbing both his shoulders, she said angrily. “Please do not ever go in that part of the forest again – please.
“Please – do not ever go in that part of the forest.”
She realized he did not understand her, so she grabbed his good arm and pulled him through the village.
“Something touched me back there and it was not you,” said Little Sparrow.
Ayira frantically walked through the village pulling Little Sparrow along until she got to Imani. Imani was stunned.
“Tell him not to go in that part of the forest,” said Ayira. “Why?”
Ayira yelled, “Just tell him – tell him not to go over there.”
Imani nodded and did as Ayira asked, while Ayira frowned at Little Sparrow. “He says something touched him. What was it?”
“Tell him to tell all of the children not to go in that part of the forest. Tell him it was me that touched him.”
Imani stared at Ayira’s neck, which was bruised and discolored. “How did your neck get like that?”
Ayira quickly covered her neck with her hand and walked away.
“Whatever happened in the woods, don’t tell anyone. They will not understand – please,” said Imani. “But she said to tell the other children not to go,” Little Sparrow replied.
“I will make sure no one goes there – but please do not tell anyone.”
He nodded hesitantly and they stared at Ayira’s teepee. Behind it, she had fallen to her knees. Rubbing her neck, she shivered in terror. She sat up and leaned against the teepee, and closed her eyes.