Slowly, I was woken from a peaceful slumber by the euphoric sound of my mother's voice. For as long as I could remember, after long nights of coughing fits and violent tremors, my mother would wake me up with a gentle hymn, and the delicious smell of a homemade meal and fresh picked fruits. Though today her voice sounded sweeter, and the smell was greater. Today was the 17th anniversary of my birthing day. The gods were smiling brightly on me for the entire fortnight as I waited in anticipation for this day! My coughing and tremors decreased with each passing day, which was always a good thing. Last night, I had not a single fit or chill.
"Dearest, it's time for your morning meal," My mother said, her voice like a choir of angels cradling my head with their beautiful, melodic utterances. I jumped out of my hammock, the crunch of leaves making me wiggle as it sent a strange vibe through my spine. I bowed to my mother apologetically as she gave me a worried look. She scurried through the flap leading out of my room, and I followed after changing from my night-robe into a loincloth. The day was bright, and the Gods were smiling warmly upon our humble Society.
I shoveled a spoonful of stew into my mouth.
"Don't forget to thank the gods for that food you are eating!" My mother scolded.
I scowled, but put my spoon back into its bowl and clapped my hands together, closing my eyes. When I was finished, I unlaced my fingers and yawned lazily, leaning back as I took another small bite of stew. I pushed the bowl away, rolling out my neck. My mother always fretted about how little I ate, telling me that I was going to fade away to nothing one day. I would laugh and hug her, kissing her cheek and assuring her once the gods dispelled my illness, I would eat anything she would make.
My mother sat across from me, mixing some herbs in a small stone bowl. She poured the pulverized vegetation into a cup of heated water, pushing it towards me. She gave me a look that brooked not complaints or whining. I smiled sweetly, not wanting to stress my beautiful mother out too much.
"Thank you momma," I bowed, wriggling my nose as I brace myself for the horrible tasting medication. Once it was completely down, I groaned and stuck my tongue out shaking my head vigorously, as if the taste would magically disappear. It never did.
I flinched and reeled around, my face merely inches from a short-haired boy whom I recognized immediately. "You are very irritable, Junuh," I scowled again, though a small smile soon graced my features.
He poked me in the forehead. "Seventeen. So old. You old man."
I scrunched my nose and bit his fingers, which he immediately pulled back, glaring playfully. "No fair," he said, pouting.
I waved to my mother as she quietly began to slip out of our home, holding a large vase steadily on her head. She waved back, smiling brightly as she disappeared.
"Are you excited for your ceremony? I am! You are finally old enough to be a man like the rest of us! King Milo is going to bless you! You lucky, thing."
"It's just because I'm so ill! I didn't do anything worth it. What will I be able to do, anyway? I'm not a warrior, and I'm not smart. I can't speak English very well, and I'm basically useless," I said, feeling a little more depressed the more I spoke.
"But you are great at creating amazing and useful things! We'd be very lost without some of the things you've made to make life here easier!" Junuh nodded, putting a hand on my shoulder. "So don't become sad."
I nodded back, smiling widely. "Once this illness is gone
I will be able to run faster than you, at least. Just like before."
He shook his head, "Nuh-uh, you liar! I am the fastest runner of my entire class! And I speak English the best."
I opened my mouth to protest, when I noticed a shadow out of the corner of my eye. I wondered if my mother had forgotten something. I turned to take a better look, my eyes widening when I saw it.
"Yad lu go nickh