On her planet, they call their world the word that
translates to “sand,” because that is what the ground is made of. Instead of
being rooted, they speak of sinking, of time that flows like the ground, and
their comforts are not of solidity, but of movement. Even when she walks,
Ho̐/Ma:i has a lighter step, as if she feels a heavier tread would swallow her
up, as it might do at home.
For months since she landed she had been listless. Her
adoptive parents thought it was the forced relocation, or adjusting at school.
But I saw the way she perked up at the beach, and on the farms’ dirt roads. I
saw the doodles in her notebooks while Mr. Kennel droned on about irregular
So that’s how I knew to take her on the long trek to the
dunes one night. I should have suspected. Instead, we lolled on each others’
shoulders, hers a rest for my hand, mine for hers to lean on, her rail-thin
profile casting almost no shadow when she turned just so.
And then - oh! She transformed when she saw the dunes
It was as if she became a new person, a different creature
She turned and smiled at me, and winked.
“I wanna show you something,” she said. Her normalish feet
flattened out, spreading across the sand like fingers resting lightly in a bowl
of rice. Her lithe body seemed to spring, rocking back on her heels, her arms
and shoulders arching back, knees bent.
Then she tipped forward…and leapt into the air. My jaw
dropped as she flew above me, a graceful arc against the azure sky. She whooped
and I cheered as she bounced across the dunes again and again, forward, and
then back towards me.
Ho̐/Ma:i fell - no, landed like a feather - drifting down
twenty yards ahead. Seeing my stunned face, she threw her head back, and
I never knew she could be so happy.
Jayakumar lives with her family in the
San Francisco Bay Area. She has written for Honeyguide Magazine, Ab Terra, Vine
Leaves Press, and has an upcoming novella with Running Wild Press. Her writing
and self-published works can also be seen at okachiko.wordpress.com