I can't tell what my uncle's doing to me. James doing a very good job of distracting me. He plays images in my head while my uncle does what ever he needs to to fix me. I keep starring at his eyes, not wanting to look away. The memories never get old even when we see them a thousand times. He plays some from his time, when I wasn't there, about what life was like back then. I finally understand why Selena has the Indian get up, it's because they were actually an Indian tribe! They had teepees, wood fires, animal hides, beaded clothing and bags, hand made everything, and their skin, oh their skin, was rust color and ultimately perfect.
I watch a typical day in the Cocaina tribe, James' tribe. The men and boys go off to train in the morning leaving the women and little girls to stay to clean up and weave clothing. I don't get to see what the women do because James goes off to training. It's in a big field, clear of any rocks and grass, just a open red field. His teacher had patterns traced on his skin black, and if I remember correctly that's because he's a true warrior. They paint the previous Heromen's marks to show respect for them.
They were perfectly done, just like everything else, and he steps up towards us.
He makes a loud grunting noise and every boy lines up side
by side. The teacher goes out of James' view, but he starts speaking to the
"You are being trained to become Warriors, true protectors of your tribe.
You will each be tested individually and in large groups next month. Your
training will start now." he says and I hear his footsteps crunching the
soil near us. James lets his emotions flow through me freely and experience
what he experienced. Pride and haughtiness fills him up. He puffs out his small
chest to look bigger than the rest of the kids.
"You will be trained in groups first. Each group will visit different
types of environments, fighting skills, and learn something new. These groups
will be the groups you'll be tested in." the teacher drones on and on.
James zones out and relaxes his position.
"Powers!" he snaps out of it and stands at attention. He looks back
and forth for the teacher. The teacher comes in his left and leans close.
"Are you getting tired already, James?" he says.
"No, Dad." James says and I breathe in the new information.
"Here you will address me as sir." the stern look still on James.
"No, sir." James says and feels ten times smaller.
"I can't hear you." the teacher says and moves away. "Without
courage you will be dead within minutes in the field of war. You let yourself
down and you die inside yourself when you feel powerless. This is the first and
most important lesson you will learn. Without this you will not complete the
training, alive." he says omniscient. A ping of fear starts in James
stomach but pride and eagerness replaces it quickly.
"NO, SIR." he says louder than before.
"Yes, that is the sound of a true Warrior, only I did not ask you to
speak." the teacher says. James, feeling stupid that he spoke out of line,
looks at the ground and prepares for the punishment. "You will be in the
first group along with Zelda, Tenis, Carter, Jarred, and Selena." James
muscles tense up at the name I know who it is without explanation.
His father moves away from James and lists off names of the other groups. James
doesn't catch the rest of it because he's too focused on the news that the
Heromen in training will be training, with him. When his father can't see him,
James leans forward the tiniest bit and looks to the left of him. Selena's
there a few boys away from him looking at him too. She looks like to be about
13, maybe 14. James must be the same age too by the looks of the boys around
him. He immediately looks away and returns to attention. I feel a blush rising
in his cheeks and I smile myself in real life. I feel James chuckle and his
laughter shaking our hands grasped in one another.
I keep watching the scene play in my mind and go along with the emotions. James
cuts the physical tie between us when the training starts, but keeps the
emotions. Good thing too, he endures multiple beatings during the fights.
The instructor pairs them up for the strength session first. James gets picked
on and gets paired with Selena knowing that he doesn't stand a chance. James'
dad takes the group to a tree circle close by with a hand drawn ring in the
middle. There are tree stumps used as seats around the circle and each boy, and
one girl, takes their seats besides their partners. James sits besides the boy
named Zelda who seems to be friends with him and Selena sits next to James. He
squirms uncomfortably in his seat and stomach is uneasy.
The teacher explains that they'll be learning hand fighting first. He doesn't
go on about how hand fighting works; instead he picks a pair first to
demonstrate. Of course, he picks James and Selena. The nerves in James are now
erratic. He steps in the circle first, confident in his place and watches
Selena as she walks to the opposite end. He tears his gaze away from her and
pays attention to what his father is saying.
"Come closer, it's a fight not a gathering." he says and pulls them
closer. "Now, since this isn't a real fight you must first bow to each
other." he says and takes a step back. James looks at Selena and bows
first. When he stands back up it looks like she hasn't bowed yet, but he must
trust that she did and pays close attention to the directions. "You may
begin." The teacher says taking James by surprise at the lack of
information given. He stares at Selena in confusion and takes the ready stance
I've come to know.
She doesn't move and his confidence builds. She doesn't know what she's
doing. he thinks to himself. This will be easy. He takes his first
swing and she flinched her head to dodge it. James' balance is lost temporarily
but he's right back on his feet. He takes another swing with his other arm
which she dodges just as easily. Frustrated that he has to work harder than he
thought originally, he plants his foot down and uses all his might to try to
hit her. She moves to the side and grasp his wrist. His mouth hangs open and
can't prepare for her to push him to the ground. His face hits the ground and
gets dirt in his mouth.
The boys laugh at him and shame over comes James. However he forms a plan in
his head and he gets up with his confidence restored. He plants his feet firmly
on the ground and waits for her to move. Selena catches on and brings her fist
to her chest. She steps to right so James steps to the left. She throws the
first punch and James blocks it with his arm. She sends a series of throws so
fast that I can't tell what's happening, but somehow James blocks each and
every one of them. Their breathing stays even and they synchronize their
movements to each other. Finally Selena is the one who messes up first and
punches empty air. James kicks her legs out from under her and Selena falls to
She's momentarily confused about where she is and looks up at him. The boys are
wide eyed and point at the fallen Heromen. She shakes it off and gets up. The
instructor butts in and tells them to sit down. James looks away from her but
he can still feel her eyes on him. When he sits down his body Zelda asks how he
did that and they chat. All the while Selena's stare is on his back. Finally
when it's Zelda and his partner, Carter to go up James has no one else to avoid
Selena. He sits forward and tries not to notice her staring at him with those
big emerald eyes.
When he can't take it anymore and turns to face her. Selena looks away from him
and pretends to watch the ongoing fight. Is she crazy? James thinks to
himself. Why is she acting so strangely? He ignores it and focuses on
the fight too. The moment her eyes are back on him the hairs on the back of his
neck prick up. He sighs and looks at her again. This time she doesn't look
away. The anger built up inside James is washed away and he scoots away from
Selena. She had moved closer to him than he had thought and he can’t stand to
have her that close. She extends her hand out to him and speaks in a high
“I’m Selena Detrivous.” He looks at her hand like its poison
and takes it out of sign of respect, not because he wanted to.
“James Powers.” He says and is still confused by her
behavior. She smiles and he pulls his hand away. He goes back to watching the fight and Selena's eyes never strayed from James.
James brings me away from the memory and back to reality. He has a smile on his face and kisses me.
"What was that for?" I ask and can't help but smile.
"That was the first time I met her." he says.
"Oh, that must mean a lot to you." I say my smile faltering a little.
"But, it's not the best memory I have. Not even close. Those I've shared with you so there's no point of showing them to you again." he says and my smile returns.
"I love you." I say and mean it deep down in my heart.
"Me too." he says and kisses me again.