Chapter 8 – She Knows You
As Zuberi and Tapiwa waited for Imani outside of Ayira’s teepee, Imani glared at them and quickly walked by, heading toward Chief Coyote’s teepee.
“What is wrong?” asked Zuberi.
She ignored them and entered the teepee. She paused. Zuberi and Tapiwa entered behind her. Everyone stared at her as she said, with tears in her eyes, “I will stay.”
Chief Coyote nodded. Dogsun appeared disappointed, but Great Eagle had a stunned expression. “What did you tell them?” asked Zuberi.
“I am staying.” “Why?” asked Zuberi.
“Is it because of Ayira?” asked Tapiwa.
Yellow Feather and the other men tried to understand what they were saying. “Is she going to stay?” asked Tapiwa.
“Why – because of Ayira? What did she tell you?” asked Zuberi. “I will stay too,” said Tapiwa.
“You too – why do you stay?” asked Zuberi. He quickly looked back at Imani and continued, “Why do you listen to her? Do you want to die?” He looked at Tapiwa and yelled, “You said you wanted to go, and now you want to stay too!”
Tapiwa was speechless.
“You can still go,” said Imani. “I will leave.”
Zuberi walked out. Tapiwa stared at Imani, worried. “Is Ayira going to stay??” asked Great Eagle.
Imani nodded as Yellow Feather slightly smiled.
Ayira was lying on several animal skins on the ground in her teepee when Zuberi entered unexpectedly. “You want us to die? You want us to die with you?” asked Zuberi.
Ayira looked confused and quickly stood up. Zuberi walked closer and grabbed her by her neck and slowly started choking her. Struggling to breathe, she grabbed his wrists and tried to pry his hands off.
A tear fell down her face as she said, “You should have not touched me.”
Her eyes turned red from the pressure Zuberi was putting on her throat, but suddenly she started to smirk, surprising him.
She croaked, “If you want to kill me, then kill me – but I will not die like an animal.” Without loosening his chokehold on her, said, “If you want to die then you will die.
Though she was struggling to talk, she said, “This was a long time coming – Look into my eyes...
Who do you see?”
She smiled, though she was starting to lose consciousness. Confused, Zuberi let go. She fell to the ground, holding her neck and coughing and gasping for air. Zuberi was still enraged.
“Do you know whom you are speaking to?” asked Ayira.
Zuberi grabbed her by her hair, forcing her to stand up. “You are nothing... I should have made them
leave you on the boat to die with the white people.” “This time I will kill you,” said Ayira.
“Do you think you can kill me?”
“I had the chance once before, but I felt sorry for you.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked, pushing her to the ground. Ayira quickly stood and faced him. “Why did you kill me?” asked Ayira.
“What is wrong with you?”
“Do you not see it? It was not my fault – I did not want to fight you, but you attacked me.” “Have you gone mad?” asked Zuberi.
“You were going to kill me no matter what weren’t you?”
Zuberi stared into Ayira’s eyes and grew fearful. “Who are you?” he asked. “You killed me before – do you want to kill me again?”
Trembling with fright, he backed away and said, “Brother...” “Why did you kill me?”
“How do you know? You are tricking me?”
He grabbed her by her neck again. Enraged, Ayira grabbed his neck as well and used her legs to push him backward. They fell through the entrance and landed outside. Women screamed as Zuberi forced Ayira onto her back. Tapiwa saw them fighting and raced to them. Atop of Ayira, Zuberi was preparing to punch her, but Tapiwa grabbed his arm.
Ayira quickly pulled herself out from under Zuberi and then punched him in the face when he pushed Tapiwa. When everyone ran out of Chief Coyote’s teepee to see what was happening, Zuberi became even more enraged and struck Ayira in her face. She fell to the ground as Tapiwa held back Zuberi, but Yellow Feather pushed Tapiwa out of the way and hit Zuberi in his face. White Hawk pulled Yellow Feather back as Zuberi fell to his knees.
Imani asked Zuberi, “What happened?” “He and I were enemies a long time ago.” Great Eagle said, “She does not look well.”
Yellow Feather pulled away from White Hawk’s grip and yelled, “He hit her!” “So – let them fight. It is not our concern,” said White Hawk.
Yellow Feather knelt by Ayira and lightly touched her face. White Hawk stared at him, annoyed, as Yellow Feather picked her up.
Tapiwa held his arms out and said, “I should take her.”
Yellow Feather ignored him and carried her to her teepee. “What happened?” Tapiwa asked Zuberi and Imani.
“I do not know,” said Zuberi.
“Why did you attack her?” asked Imani. “He deserved it…”
Stunned, Imani sadly considered his words.
“If they will let me – I will go with the other tribe,” said Zuberi. “Yes – yes, I will speak with them,” said Imani.
Zuberi blankly walked away. Worried, Imani walked to Ayira’s teepee and entered.
Yellow Feather knelt beside her, as he covered her with her blanket. He grabbed a pot of water and dipped a piece of cloth in the liquid, then washed her bruised and bloody face. Although Ayira could barely keep her eyes open, she grabbed his wrist and a tear fell down her face.
She whispered, “I know you – I know who you are.”
“Hush – do not speak... You must rest,” said Yellow Feather. “I know who you are – I have seen you before.”
Concerned, Imani watched as Yellow Feather sat, staring at the young woman. When she passed out, he said, “I want to stay with her – he will not touch her again.”
“He will not come back... I will stay with her,” said Imani. “You do not know that... I will stay with her.”
Imani nodded and hesitantly left the teepee. Yellow Feather sat across from Ayira on the other side of the fire and stared at her, rubbing his hands together to warm them in the cold air. When he walked over to Ayira and knelt to pull the blanket up to her neck, she suddenly started moaning and mumbling in her sleep. Yellow Feather could not understand her, so he returned to his seat by the fire and stared at her. After a while, he laid down and fell asleep.
Later that night, Yellow Feather woke up and noticed the fire was almost out, but Ayira’s blanket only covered her legs. He arose and pulled the blanket up to her neck again, causing her to mumble once more as he covered her. He lay down again and closed his eyes, but then quickly opened them again when he heard a noise. He looked around the room, and then glanced back at Ayira. The blanket only covered her head.
Confused and nervous, he slowly got up. He knelt beside her and covered her again as worrying thoughts swirled in his head. He turned around to the low-lit fire and relit it, then sat down again to stare at her and worry. Ayira moved around, mumbling to herself, as he cautiously laid down again. After a while, he was awakened by smoke filling the teepee. Ayira’s blanket was in the fire, so he quickly pulled it out and stomped on it until he’d put the flames out. Coughing and hardly able to breathe from the smoke, he threw water on the burning wood, then picked up Ayira. As he carried her out of the teepee, he heard whispers in the dark.
Yellow Feather carried Ayira to his teepee and laid her down on his bed. After starting another fire, he grabbed his own blankets and covered Ayira. This time, he tucked the blankets under her tightly. He sat across from her and watched her nervously. When she suddenly started snoring, he smiled in relief.
Ayira awakened at dawn, confused by the sounds of people walking and talking noisily outside. She saw Yellow Feather lying across from her, asleep, and nervously sat up.
When she moaned and grabbed her head in pain, Yellow Feather awakened and asked, “Are you all right?”
“I must go back to my hut. I cannot be here.”
Yellow Feather did not understand, but he softly grabbed her arm and said, “Stay here – you are safer here.”
She ignored him and quickly stood up. Her head started to hurt, so she grabbed it again. Yellow Feather softly touched her head and said, “Please – stay...”
Ayira squinted at him in pain, then sadly looked down. She pulled away from him and hurriedly left with tears in her eyes, disappointing the young man.