Sonai says colors from the fire determine our people’s fate. Sonai says I am too young to light the wooden ring in our people’s colors from the fire celebration. I say, I am nine years old and that makes me a woman. Father says, “Kaika, you are too young. What if the arrow drops and burns you?”
“Well,” I say, “what if the arrow shooter misses and burns you to the ground?”
Suddenly Father’s smile turns to a scowl, and I am sent to my family’s teepee. Later that night, when the snow white moonlight pierces my warm bright eyes, Sonai tells us it is time for our fate deciding. My mother Javen goes first. “Ah, Javen, you will be expecting soon!” Mother’s eyes fill with joy.
Next, Akzir, my annoying older sister. “Akzir, you will have good luck!” She starts prancing around like a pony, until mother stops her.
And finally . . . drumroll . . . me. “Ah Kaika, you will go through an adventure.” What did he mean? I couldn’t ask because he had vanished from behind the ivy green flames. Besides, nothing ever happens to me.
AWOO! Huh? AWOO! Wolves. I look up. Father is awake too. “Kaika, stay here, with your mother and sister,” he says. I knew he was out there fighting the pack of wolves. But I was worried. Last time Father fought a wolf, he ended up wounded.
“Ahhhhhh!” What now?
“Ahhhhhhhh!” Father! Suddenly, there is Father, hovering from a wolf’s jaws, cherry blood spilling from his face. When the wolf runs off with the last of our winter meat, I run too. I run past the trees, and onto the fragile, icy blue lake until I see the wolf. Step . . . creak . . . step . . . crack . . . step . . . crack! Then boom! As I fall into the freezing water, the wolf falls with me. I open my eyes: pain. But I see the wolf.
The meat falls from its jaws as it falls into the darkness of the lake. I catch the meat and climb to the surface onto the icy blue frozen lake.
Whoosh! The flaming arrow goes through the hoop. My feather earrings sway along with my porcupine dress. “All hail Kaika the Great!” my father says.
That’s when it hits me. The colors of the fire don’t determine our fate. We do.
I look at my wooden medal. It says: To Kaika Lavfenta Khant, for extraordinary bravery. My new pet fox prowler lays on my leg. The sunset fades as winter ends.
Taylor, middle school, north summer camp