Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2018 finalist, Jacquelyn E. Lo Bianco! Jacquelyn finished 8th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “Our Beginning.” One of our judges said, “I enjoyed the development of unusual characters, and especially liked how each had intriguing characteristics and personalities. I was swept up in Jacquelyn’s descriptive language, as well.” Enjoy!
I saw the world I was standing on, but the color and scenery suddenly changed. A beautiful woman was looking down at me with a tall man next to her. The woman looked tired and was drenched with sweat.
The woman looked at the man and back at me, then she said, “Our precious Rain.”
“She is as beautiful as you, Nature,” the man replied, giving her a small smile, and his hazel eyes shone with pride and love.
They looked at each other and the woman started crying. The baby named Rain started crying with her mother. The scene faded away and a new scene appeared. Thousands of years had gone by. I was that baby named Rain, and now I am a young girl about eight or nine years old.
“Rain? What are you looking at?” a small girl asked as she came up beside me.
“Oh, you scared me Solar,” I replied, frightened at how quiet the little girl was.
“I am just watching the people on Earth,” I added, looking back at the little puddle in front of me.
Solar, one of my younger sisters, looked at me like I was crazy. Solar sat down on my lap and watched with me for a minute or so.
“Rain, Mama says that she needs you. I do not know why. She would not tell me,” Solar commented to me, tilting her head up to look at me with her reddish-orange eyes.
“Mother wants me? Interesting, normally she comes and gets me herself,” I mumbled, giving Solar a hug then moving her off my lap. After she was off me, I sprinted off to find Mother.
It took me two minutes to find Mother. When I found her, she was sitting by herself. No siblings or anyone. Strange, I thought, Mother never sees me without someone with us. I quietly closed the door to her room as I entered. Slowly walking into the room, it took her a minute to notice me.
“Rain, where did Solar find you? I could not find you when I was looking,” Mother said, turning towards me in her chair.
“I was looking upon Earth again,” I muttered, looking at my bare feet on the marble floors. I only looked at Earth if the little ones were being noisy or I was bored, which never happened with eight siblings. This was the only time that I have been bored.
“You wanted to see me, Mother?” I questioned to break the silence between us. As I asked it, I looked up at my mother.
“Yes. I have noticed that you have been observing Earth a lot lately, Rain,” Mother Nature spoke quietly, looking sadly at the wall. “Why is that, Rain? Are you not enjoying being here anymore?” she added, facing me again.
“What!? No! I love it here, but I am just curious what it is like down there,” I answered, in shock that she asked me questions like that.
“Oh, Rain, are you sure? I would be happy if you want to go to Earth,” Mother stated, getting out of the chair.
“And leave you alone with the little ones and the other on the way? Never! Mother, I can dream, right?” I protested, moving myself in front of where she was standing.
“Rain, I can feel the love of adventure you have in your heart. Both you and your father have it,” she confessed as she held her stomach in a cradle. Mother was seven months pregnant with my next sibling.
“Mother, I would love to go, but I can not. There is no way to get to that world with my gifts,” I argued, and right way I could tell it did not work because of the look on my mother’s face.
“You just admitted that you wanted to go, and yes, dear girl, there is a way for you to go with your gifts.” Mother smiled a sneaky grin that I normally gave her.
“There is!?” I asked so loudly my siblings could hear it. “Mother, yes, I want to go! Please only for a little bit. I will be back in time to meet my new sibling,” I exclaimed, holding her hands in my own.
“You can stay as long as you want or need to, and you can also visit us anytime. Now go get yourself ready for me to help get you to Earth.” Mother responded, calmly compared to my excited outburst.
“Thank you, Mother Nature. Thank you,” I called as I rushed to pack my things.
“Rain, we are going to miss you so much,” Roxanne cried from behind the group of our siblings. It was an hour after Mother agreed to let me travel to Earth. My brothers and sisters surrounded me to say goodbye. My sisters were all wearing something similar to my traveling clothes. I was wearing a white dress that was held up by straps around my shoulders. I designed and made these dresses for my sisters, except Galaxy, who was born after me and wore a strapless dress like our mother. The difference in our outfits was the color of the sashes around our waists. Mine was seafoam green. I also had a cloak that Mother just gave me to hide my face when I was traveling. The cloak was also seafoam green with silver trim.
“I will be back when Mother is having the baby,” I assured my siblings, trying to calm them about my departure.
“That is going to be months!” Jade sighed, giving me a sad pouting face that every sister seemed to have.
“Everyone please finish their goodbyes. Rain needs to leave before dark,” Mother announced, which ended my siblings’ complaining session.
“Thank you,” I muttered to myself so none of the little ones could hear.
What should I do first? Who am I going to meet? This is too exciting to be real, I wondered while waiting for Mother to give me the cue. I suddenly felt a wave of fear go through me as my siblings backed away from the spot they were standing.
“Well, here I go,” I told them all, giving one last warm smile.
“Thank you. Goodbye,” I added as swirls of blue engulfed me. The last face I saw was not a sad face, but the angry face of Galaxy covered by her blue hair. It was not a pleasant vision to see when leaving home for the first time.
When the swirls stopped, I opened my eyes to a huge tree in front of me.
“It is huge!” I yelled with excitement as I ran to climb it. If I can get to the top, I can see the whole area, I voiced in my head as I climbed the tree.
When I reached the tip-top of the tree, I could see over all of the land. In the distance, I saw a small village nearby and a boy in dark armor looking up the tree.
He looks lost, maybe I should go introduce myself to him, I told myself as I held onto the limb. I measured how far the village was from here, then I navigated my way down the branches below.
When I was out of the tree, I made sure I did not have leaves in my hair. After I was all clear, I walked around the tree to meet the boy.
“Hello!” I greeted as I got closer to him and gave a smile.
“Oh! Hello! Were you in that tree just now?” he observed, returning the smile that I had when I approached him.
“Yes, I was in the tree,” I answered, and he gave me a curious look like he did not understand me. “What is it? First time here?” I joked, not expecting that my joke would be on point.
“Well, yes. I came from a place that people here dream about being when they die if they have good souls,” he muttered, looking down at his feet and trying not to make eye contact with me. I opened my eyes wide, surprised that he lived there too.
“You live there too?” I whispered, getting close to him to make sure only he heard. When I backed away and he looked at me with huge eyes.
He must be as old as me, and who are his parents if he lives in the Heavens? I wondered.
Breaking the silence, he said, “Let’s try this again. Hello, I am Eli, the oldest son of Father Time. And you are?” He gave me another smile and waited for my response.
Shocked that he was a son of Time, I did not notice he asked me a question.
“Oh! I am Rain, the water goddess and the oldest daughter of Mother Nature,” I explained, returning the smile and continuing to process who he was.
“Well, it is nice to meet you, Rain. Um, did you see anything when you were up in the tree?” Eli asked, sounding a little anxious to get on his way.
“Yes, I saw a little village to the south of here and I think I might travel to it,” I responded, looking to the south.
“Do you want to come with me?” I offered as I looked back at him.
“Sure. I am going to stay the night there and head out the next morning. Time is precious to me so I am going to spend it wisely and explore as much of this world as I can,” Eli commented, and I noted that he might not have as much time as I did.
Do I want to travel like him? I pondered, noticing that he was already off to the village. Racing to catch up to him, I answered myself.
I want to help these people. It has been my dream, so I am going to stay for a while.
The two of us traveled south from the huge tree where I first appeared. As we approached the village, I saw that their farms were empty and none of the villagers were active.
I am following Eli to this village that I can tell is having a rough life, I told myself as I looked at the quiet roads. The only things that were making any sounds were the crunch of the road under Eli’s boots and the wind moving the nearby tree leaves. Something was out of place at this village. I could feel the lack of water in the area. Women peered out of windows glaring as we passed. Children stopped playing and whispered things to each other. Men watched us suspiciously, and I felt abnormal. Their looks made me feel different and nervous. I moved closer to Eli, and we both pulled our hoods over our heads. A man ran into me, causing me to lose my balance. I ended up falling on the gravel. I could hear laughter come from around me.
This is just perfect. The first impression the people of this village have of me is that I am a complete fool, I thought when a hand pulled me to my feet. Eli ushered me along to get away from the embarrassment that I experienced. Traveling merchants offered us food and supplies. I could see them rambling about the items they had to sell but I could not understand what they were saying. I shook my head to everyone and continued. As we explored, I could see the hunger on the villager’s faces. They strolled by traveling merchants begging for food with their eyes.
Eli and I sat in the shade of a house. The heat was unbearable with no form of water or moisture around. A pair of men approached us. They said something to us but all I heard was random noises.
“What are you saying?” Eli asked, and the men looked at him, confused. The man closest to Eli grabbed his arm and his comrade did the same to me. They dragged us to the entrance of a building that did not look friendly. They took our belongings once we got into the building. Eli and I were put in a room not knowing what was happening.
Time went by as we sat in the room. The men brought us bread and water in small amounts at meal times. According to Eli, we were in the room for almost three days.
“Why is this happening? I could have explored the whole area by now!” Eli cried. All I could do was shrug.
“We have to be patient, Eli. There might be a whole reason behind why we are being kept here,” I explained, closing my eyes.
“I have a certain amount of time I was given and staying locked up is wasting it!” he groaned, pounding his fist on the table.
“How long are you able to be here? You know it is dangerous to stay long,” he added, and I searched my memory for a specific time period my mother gave me. You can stay as long as you want or need to, she told me. Mother is expecting a child and my sisters are not able to help her like I could.
“I only have months until I need to be back,” I answered, making my time on Earth officially limited.
We stayed quiet until the two men barged in. They carried our bags, and us as well, out of the village. They threw us into the dirt. They said something before going back into the village. I sat there for quite some time staring into the sky. I could not think about anything as my mind seemed to be blocked. I felt dizzy. The world started spinning but I knew I was not moving. What is going on? I pondered before seeing dark. My mind was filled with things that I did not understand.
“Rain, please open your mouth and drink water!” Eli said, and a cool feeling went through me. I opened my eyes to see Eli holding a canteen made of animal pelts.
“Thank you,” I said, sitting up. My eyes adjusted to see the outskirts of the village.
“What do you think we should do now? It is clear that they do not want us back,” I asked, turning to Eli.
“Make camp somewhere like the tree we met at?” he suggested, and I nodded. The rest of the day we set up our area to stay at under the large tree. The night came quickly but lasted longer than I liked. I laid on the grass listening to the night’s song and not able to sleep. The moon was in the middle of the sky shining like a candle. I dug through my bag, searching for something to entertain myself. I felt a cylinder shaped object and pulled it out. The object was made out of ancient looking paper. The moonlight was not bright enough, so I made a small water orb to give me more light. The orb reflected the moonlight towards me. I was able to see perfectly and gently opened the roll of paper. The writing I could read was about half of the paper. I dived into the words and processed what the roll was. An hour must have passed when I saw Eli turn over in his sleep.
If this is what I think it is, he needs to be up, I thought, and nudged him.
“Wake up, you need to see this,” I muttered, jabbing at him with my finger.
“It is the middle of the night,” he groaned, swatting my hand.
“Get up!” I hissed, and he obeyed. Eli rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
“You have been reading?” Eli questioned, and I gave him a look that said obviously.
“I think this paper is our way to understand the villagers,” I explained, and he peered over at the paper.
“How are we going to learn this? It is different from our writing,” he insisted and I sighed.
“It is like when you first learned to read. We take it slow and pronounce it as we go along,” I answered, and started teaching us how to speak the language of the people of Earth. More than once, I had to poke at Eli to stay awake or to focus him on the language.
By the morning we could understand most of the language and speak small sentences. We packed up and headed back to the village. It was early and the heat had not picked up yet. The village was not filled with people so we practiced communicating with the merchants. They brushed us off unless we bought from them. We tried speaking with villagers, but they responded similarly. I was walking along when someone tapped me on my shoulder. I looked down at a girl who crossed her arms.
“It is no use coming here. We have limited food and water,” she stated, and I looked at Eli.
That is it. We got thrown out because they could not care for us. They left us to survive on our own, I thought and I somehow knew Eli thought the same thing.
Weird. That is new.
“What are you kids doing back here!? We told you to leave!” a furious voice yelled, and the girl’s eyes widened. The men who threw Eli and me out were approaching us. A thought hit me.
“Do you know anyone we can talk to? To get more information about your situation?” I asked the girl, and she waved for us to follow.
“Stop! You are leaving this instant!” the voice commanded, but I ran behind the young girl. We twisted through people and houses until it sounded like we lost the men. The girl led us to a house and disappeared. I scanned the area for her or the men but found no one other than Eli. The house looked empty and mysterious. Eli started moving to the door and I grabbed his arm.
“What are you doing!? We do not know who lives here,” I whispered, and he shrugged.
“There is one way to find out,” Eli replied, and started again. I stayed close to him. When I raised my hand to knock, the door swung open, revealing a relatively young woman with sunken eyes, the sign of a lack of sleep. She was shocked and we stood there looking at each other.
“Can I help you children?” she asked, realizing that it was just two kids, not hungry villagers.
“Yes, we have some questions about this village and were wondering if you can answer them,” I replied, and watched the woman straighten up.
“You two came to the appropriate place. Come,” the woman stated. She gestured for us to come in and we followed.
Eli and I were standing in the home of this woman who was getting something out of the next room. The house had a sword above a small fireplace where two little rocking chairs sat.
“This is a pleasant house,” I mentioned awkwardly, breaking the silence we created.
“Indeed. I think we should ask her if there is a place for us to stay after offering a way to help them,” Eli suggested in our native language at a low voice so the woman would not overhear us.
“Nice idea. I can form some clouds just outside of the town and bring them water in the next few days,” I muttered back at him, and noticed that the woman was finishing up what she was doing.
“Great. Are you capable of lying, Nature Child?” he mumbled with this hint of sass in his voice which meant that he did not think I could.
“Just watch, Time Boy, here she comes,” I said, throwing back at him the same amount of sass he gave me. Straightening up, the two of us watched her take a seat in a rocking chair.
The woman had her hair back in a bun and took her time to motion for one of us to join her in a chair. Eli, being a gentleman, let me sit in the chair across from the woman. She looked back at the two of us for a few seconds and seemed to shake off whatever she was thinking.
“You have questions about the village for me?” she said with her hands in her lap. “Oh. Sorry. I am Gabriella, the wife of our recently deceased lord and now lord of this village,” she added, putting out her hand for an introduction.
“It is nice to meet you, Gabriella. I am so sorry for your loss,” I replied, taking her hand and holding it for a second. Eli did the same.
Gabriella settled herself again before saying a small thank you. “It really has taken so many of them,” she muttered looking at the cold fireplace.
“Gabriella, I am Eli and this is my friend Rain. Is it accurate that your village is suffering from either a drought or famine?” Eli spoke up before I could.
“Yes, that is the exact problem. The whole area around this village and others close by have been in a drought for almost a decade now,” Gabriella answered.
How did I not know sooner? I would have helped them, I thought, my heart dropping. It was my passion to help the people of Earth as I observed from the Heavens for many years. Now that I am present on Earth, it is my goal to aid them whenever I can.
“We were just passing by and I was wondering if I could ask Mother Nature to help your village in this horrible time,” I lied, and as the words just came off my tongue I was surprised, as I learned the language last night. I did not make a movement to brag to Eli.
“Oh, if you can! Are your parents traveling priests?” Gabriella questioned with a bright look of hope in her eyes.
“Yes, my parents are. We were traveling with them and got separated. We saw that this village was having a hard time, so I thought I would put my parents’ teachings to use.” I continued, and the lie seemed to be working on Gabriella.
We cannot let her know who we are, so making this story up is for the best, I thought, giving her a small smile to show that I was confident in my parents.
“Please! That would be miraculous!” she cried, bouncing out of her chair. “My people are losing hope, so this would be extraordinary if you are able to help.”
I looked at Eli and he understood what I needed him to do.
“It would be an honor to help, but we just need some place that would be private. Maybe like an inn room?” Eli continued to lie for me, and he stepped closer to Gabriella and me.
The two of us are lying but we get to help this town in exchange for it, I told myself, standing up next to Eli.
“There is an inn on the north side of the village. I can give you some coins but you will have to get your rooms yourselves,” Gabriella stated and moved to the door. She grabbed a handful of coins from a pouch and put them in my hands.
“Take care, children. Thank you for the help,” she added, opening the door, and we left the house.
Walking through the quiet village made me feel terrible for these people. We asked two mothers who noticed that we were lost for directions to the inn. They told us which paths to take and to be careful. Eli and I entered the inn, and a bitter voice called out to us.
“Get out! I do not serve children and if you are here for food march your butts back out that door!” A stout, elderly man limped around the long desk in the center of the room.
“Sir, we would like to purchase two rooms for the night,” I started to explain, and he cut me off.
“I will not help you! Leave before I have to summon the guards!” the man stressed, and I sighed.
“Sir, please listen, we would just like to be customers at this in,” I continued, and he picked up a cane from the side of the desk.
“Out! Out!” he yelled, pushing us back with the cane. I looked over at Eli and he was fuming. The innkeeper shoved Eli with the cane. We were now outside and other people watched the scene unfold. Eli grabbed hold of the cane, causing the innkeeper to try and pull it away from him. In the struggle Eli’s strength overwhelmed the old man, pushing him to the ground. The crowd gasped. I turned my attention back to the innkeeper. Rushing to his side, I tried to help him up but he swatted me away.
“Sir, can we negotiate a deal?” I pleaded, but he ignored my statement. I pulled out all the coins from my bag and showed him them.
“Please, we can pay for the rooms.”
Two shadows now hovered over Eli.
“Let the innkeeper be and respect his wishes by leaving,” one of the men said, and I turned to him.
“Please sir, we just want to stay the night at the inn and we will be gone,” I stated.
The innkeeper laughed. “Children like you have no respect for your elders,” he pointed out and I thought I heard something growl.
“Sir, I will pay you with all the coin I have for the two rooms and I can promise we will be out by the morning,” I bargained, becoming desperate to end this confrontation. The innkeeper glared at the coins and his eyes widened.
“Alright, one night is all you get and you hit the road,” he agreed, and I released a breath of relief.
“Yes sir,” I said, forming the deal. As he limped into the inn, I saw the spectators go on with their days. Even the men left. I paid the innkeeper and he passed us two wooden blocks with the numbers of the rooms on them. Eli’s room was right next to mine, and when we arrived, we put our blocks on the doors.
“I will see you later, after my praying is done,” I remarked, giving a little wink.
“Do what you must. I will be waiting to see the results in my room,” he stated, returning the wink.
“And you handled that situation confidently. Thank you,” Eli complimented before walking into his room and closing the door.
Entering into my own room, I closed my door and surveyed the room. The room was small but cozy. The bed was next to a small hand-built dresser where I dropped my belongings. The only things I brought with me were a sword, my cloak, a bag to carry items, and a pair of black boots.
It was time for me to start summoning the storm. My heart started to race.
Why am I so nervous? I have done this before at home, I thought, and one word rang in my ears: home. I had made storms to help people from the Heavens, not Earth. The Heavens were safe for me, as I was a goddess, but on Earth, I was exposed. I was exposed to the people who thought I was a myth.
It is simple, Rain, just believe you can and perform the steps I taught you. Mother’s voice reminded me, like the time I created my first storm.
The water flows through me, so I just had to wave my hand and a wave of water would appear.
What would happen if someone found out? Could I be killed or lose my place in the Heavens? I am risking my safety doing this, but is to help. I need to believe that I can, like all the other times. This is a piece of cake, I pondered, trying to get the courage to do it.
Are you capable, Nature Child? Eli’s voice echoed in my head. That made me boil. I had to prove that I could do it and help.
You handled that confidently. Eli’s voice entered my thoughts again and gave me strength. I could be the light in the darkness of others.
Looking out the tiny window, I decided on an area to form the storm farther north of the village. Making a small bubble, I spun it faster and faster in my hands. When it was the size of an orange, big enough to be a storm that would bring water to this area, I made it float in the air.
“Go,” I whispered, throwing my hands in the direction the storm was to form, and the bubble disappeared. Exhausted, I fell on the bed. Using my gifts usually left me tired, so I took a small nap.
It was the morning after I summoned the storm. Keeping our word to the innkeeper, I had packed my belongings and was helping Eli prepare to leave. All that Eli brought was a sword, a cloak, a bag, and a small chain that he wore. On the eastern side of the village, Eli finished saying his farewell to me when Gabriella ran up to us.
“Hey! Why are you leaving so soon?” she questioned, looking tired from rushing to talk to us.
“I am going to try to find Rain’s parents. She is going to stay and see if rain finally comes or until I find her parents,” he replied. I noticed that he must have been waiting for that question.
“Oh, then take this.” She offered him a parcel and inside was extra bread. “I had spare food and my daughter suggested giving it to you,” Gabriella explained, turning to me and giving me a parcel also.
So that little girl who led us to the house was her child, I thought as I looked at the piece of bread wrapped in cloth.
Startled that I felt a presence of a storm, I turned to the north. Dark clouds were rolling in and I could see rain painting dark lines on the sky. Smiling, I saw that villagers were coming out to look at the sight.
“Look, clouds!” A villager cried, pointing to the north, and others looked that way.
“Is it raining out there?” someone asked while a woman who was on her knees cried, “The Gods have answered our prayers! They finally helped us!”
I did it! The storm will bring them more than enough water to overcome the drought, I told myself as I listened to all the cheers from the villagers. Turning around to Eli, I continued to smile. He winked at me, looking proud. Gabriella was just staring at the clouds, in awe that there was actually hope for her village.
“Eli, you might want to head off before you get stuck in a rainstorm,” I mentioned, trying to make sure his time here was the best he could ever have. Eli’s voice echoed in my head just like when my siblings talked to me.
You did it, Rain, he congratulated me for this storm.
Yes, I really did, I replied, and gave him another small smile before he left.
“Goodbye,” the two of us said in unison, which made us smile. Gabriella wandered around, talking to all of her villagers, who were overjoyed to have been heard by the Gods. As Eli walked away, I stood there watching him get smaller and disappear from my sight. But there is a chance we could meet again.
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