A Hand to Guide You: Part One
"You really need to get up and get going, Anika. Those dishes
aren't going to wash themselves," called Bee from the kitchen table.
She was busily working on the month's bills,
which were in a stack several inches high sitting next to her. Not moving, I
pretended not to hear her from the couch in the living room where I was sitting.
This trick used to work when I was young, but she was getting fed up, I could
"Anika, get up. You have to do your chores. I'm
not going to let you sit there and ignore me."
Dang, I guess that one won't work this time,
I thought. This type of conflict was a normal occurrence in my house. My
owner, Bianca, was always scolding me for being too lazy. In my mind, laziness
was too strong a word. I just didn't want to do anything at all that could ever
possibly detract from my fun. That sounds reasonable, right? Bee didn't really
think so. To tell you the truth, I was afraid of growing up. I wanted to be
a perfectly normal little green Kougra, free and fun loving, forever. I definitely
didn't want any form of responsibility, and I would do anything to get out of
it. Even the "adorable widdle baby" move.
"Won't you help me? It's so hard to wash all
those dishes all by myself," I said in my sweetest singsong voice.
"Absolutely not. You are not a little kitten
anymore, Anika. You are old enough to do your own chores," said Bee, still not
looking up from the table.
I was running out of excuses. Surely bribery
will work, I told myself. "I'll give you a back rub if you don't make me
do the dishes," I proposed, hopefully.
Bee just shook her head. She then did something
unexpected. Getting up from the table, she walked over to me and sat down on
the couch. She put her arm around me, and quietly expressed her feelings.
"I know you don't like to do chores, but you
are growing up. Taking responsibility is part of that."
"But I don't want to have responsibility! I don't
want to have to do chores!" I interrupted, half-shouting. Then, quietly and
hesitantly, I said, "I'm just not that kind of person, to go be responsible.
I just can't do great and wonderful things."
This is what I had wanted to say for a long time.
I seriously doubted whether I could really do everything that was expected of
me. Bianca looked a bit concerned for a moment, but then smiled and continued.
"You have more potential than you realize, Anika.
If you will just apply yourself, I know you can accomplish great things. You
just have put your mind to it. You can do anything you are called to do."
One day over Spring Holiday, Bianca took me to
Mystery Island for a little vacation. After our discussion, I had worked a lot
harder. I think she felt I deserved a reward. We took the tour of the beach,
and visited the village marketplace. We even played a little tombola (although
all I got was a lousy bottle of black sand). The trip was a welcome relaxation,
and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. The weather was absolutely perfect for
exploring, and I soon had discovered many interesting secrets about the island.
Bianca and I took surfing lessons, and played a lot of volleyball with the local
Myncies on the beach. Whenever I wasn't out playing, I was simply lying in the
sun and sleeping on the porch of our beach house. Bianca, surprisingly, had
no objection. She often joined me. Our first twelve days on Mystery Island were
On the last day of our trip, Bee tried to cram
everything in that we had missed. She dragged me from the top of Techo Mountain
to the Rock Pools. I was utterly exhausted. Our last stop, thankfully, was the
Island Mystic. Strolling along the path, I gazed at the lush foliage that was
beginning to overtake the stone walkway. As my eyes passed over a nearby bush,
they caught an odd sight: two glowing eyes staring out, and fixed right on me.
Startled, I did a double take and checked the bush again, but the eyes were
gone with no clue but a faint rustle of leaves. How strange, I thought…
But I had little time to dwell on the peculiarities of Mystery Island, for we
had reached the Mystic's front step. As we approached him, having to duck under
the small doorway of his straw hut, we passed through the curtain of strung
shells and beads. There were all sorts of mystical objects decorating the room:
tall totems, masks with frightening expressions, little dolls that I suspected
were for voodoo purposes, and many other strange things that I had no clue to
what they were. The Mystic peered at me through the darkness. As my eyes slowly
adjusted to the dim light, I got a clear view of him for the first time. I must
say I was quite surprised at his appearance. His wild hair, tattoos, and bone
nose ring were unnerving, but I took a few feeble steps in his direction (mostly
due to the pokes in the back I received from my owner). He beckoned me to come
closer, and I reluctantly did so.
He said, in a quiet, but hoarse voice, "Ahhh…
I have not heard of one like you in many, many years."
This odd statement puzzled me, for I had not
the slightest inkling as to what he was talking about. I thought perhaps he
was this dramatic with all who came to have their fortunes told, just to liven
things up a bit. It must be a boring job, just to sit here all day and tell
the future. He probably isn't even a real mystic. This is all just some joke.
But it was still very strange. My face had a look of bewilderment on it. He
seemed to notice, and so he continued, "Not everyday does one see a pet with
such a destiny. Your future has been written in the stars since before you were
born. You, Anika, will be the Guide."
This did anything but help to ease my confusion.
The expression on my face remained, and with one eyebrow raised I questioned
the Island Mystic on his strange words.
"The…Guide? The guide of what? Why me, why is
it my destiny?" I asked, with a hint of doubt and criticism in my voice.
He simply smiled and replied calmly "Innocent
girl, you have no idea what is in store for you. You will be the Guide of the
wandering, the small. You will protect those who are weak, lowly, and in need
I was still as perplexed as ever, although I
was getting more nervous by the second. The idea of being a guide to the "wandering
and small", not to mention saving the world, sounded like an immense task, and
just a little bit creepy.
How on earth am I supposed to guide and protect
the weak? I thought to myself. I've heard of Jeran, and those kinds of
people, but this magical-type of thing? Is it possible? Is this truly my destiny
or am I just listening to some crackpot trying to scare me? Could this even
be all just a weird dream?
These thoughts raced through my mind, each one
as likely as the next, but somehow my intuition left the impression that this
really was true. It seemed impossible, that anything this strange could be happening
to me, but yet it was. And something about the shaman's baffling speech had
rung true in my heart. Am I, plain and simple Anika the Kougra, really the
Guide of the lost and the protector of the weak?
I snapped back to reality, finding that both
my owner and the Island Mystic were staring at me hopefully. I gave a sigh of
weariness. Gazing out through the beaded curtains, I saw out the window the
pristine bay, typically serene. Nothing in the landscape was out of the ordinary.
It was perfectly average. With a sudden jolt of cynicism, my first thoughts
now seemed ridiculous.
More logic has to be used in this situation,
intuition will not do for such a crazy thing, I thought. It's preposterous
to think that I, a little girl from nowhere, could be anything as important
as a Guide, if there even was such a thing. I am far too young for such a responsibility,
far too inexperienced, I reasoned with myself. They will have to find
someone else. I can't do it, I won't do it.
These thoughts seemed far more rational, and
I convinced myself that this could not be possible. There was nothing at all
feasible about his words. I folded my arms and looked at the Islander, which
I assume he took as a signal to go on:
"You must be bestowed with the gifts of the Guide,
for it is your calling and you will need these gifts to carry it out," said
the Mystic. "The power will be yours to command, and no other can take it away
from you. Only you can forsake your powers."
With this last statement, I perked up. Although
I was very curious about my supposed "calling", I was seriously resenting such
a responsibility. If I really am the Guide, I can just wish it all away.
This is surely what I'll do, I thought. Absent-mindedly drifting off into
daydreams of my future, I planned out exactly how I would stay just the way
I was. I would be so very happy, with just Bianca and me living together forever.
In my reflection, I hadn't realized the shaman was still talking. I began to
"…you will not receive these powers right away.
The time will come when you will fully come to your capacity. You will know
when this day has come. But, for now, I will give you these marks as a reminder
of your calling. Be prepared, little Anika."
At this, the Mystic set into an unearthly trance.
His eyes rolled back into his head, and he started chanting. At first he was
quiet, almost in a whisper, but got progressively louder with each recitation
of the ancient words in such a strange tongue that it seemed to be from another
world. I stepped backward in fear, clinging to Bianca. A gust of wind rushed
into the hut and circled around us, snatching up loose leaves and twigs. I buried
my face in Bee's side, and she put her arms around me. I could tell she was
frightened as well. The howling of the wind nearly drowned out the shaman's
words, but he continued to recite the strange passage, so foreign I cannot find
characters to write in any human alphabet. The Mystic waved his arms wildly
above his head, still repeating word after word, and the wind was swirling around
us faster and faster, as if we were inside a great tornado. The islander continued
in his trance, nearly screaming to be heard over the storm.
Suddenly stopping, he reeled around and aimed
his long shaman's staff directly at me. A searing pain surged through me, surpassing
all I had ever experienced. It felt as if daggers were cutting my skin, drawing
painfully intricate designs. Writhing, I cried out in agony, and felling to
my knees. I lay on the floor, convulsing uncontrollably. Bee was at a loss of
what to do, the persistent wind throwing her jet-black hair about her face.
I could think of nothing but the pain running through me, my brain was throbbing
with it. The endless thudding inside my skull, and the white-hot searing through
my body would not cease. However there was one thing that diverted my concentration,
although only for an instant: the eyes, there again staring at me, lurking in
the shadows like a menacing predator. Yet a moment later they were forgotten,
my mind reverting back to the pain, and the horrible realization that I was
no longer a normal little girl.
To be continued...