By: Sawyer Bennett

I refused to eat with utensils, even though I immediately remembered what they were. I didn’t do that out of any sense of unease, but rather did so to show Moira that I would do as I pleased. If I thought I could get away with shedding my clothes the entire time, I’d do so, but Moira put a stop to that by telling me there were laws against it.

So I had to make do with the little things, like refusing to use a fork and knife, instead using my fingers to bring food to my mouth. I even shunned the napkin I watched her use to dab at her mouth and wipe her fingers, instead licking my fingers clean and once, even rubbing my lips across the material of the shirt I wore just at my shoulder. I refused to cut my hair when she suggested it, but she merely gave me a small smile and didn’t say a word.

It makes me angry… that she is just so accepting of my differences. I fully expect her at some point to start “insisting” that I behave according to these new cultural norms. Instead, she merely takes her time explaining things to me, and only gives me the opportunity to try something out. If I refuse, she only says, “Maybe some other time.”

My feelings toward this flame-haired woman cause dark feelings to twist within me. I know she is not directly responsible for me leaving my home, yet I loathe her as if she were the person who came up with this insane idea. I know she is just doing her job… doing what my “godfather” asked her to do, but my contempt for her is as great as for this man named Randall Cannon. Two people that have put into effect a series of events, which led me from a peaceful and happy existence.

They are simply my enemies.

Yes, Moira is my enemy, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking at her the way a man looks at a woman. I have an unnatural attraction to the woman with red hair and green eyes. It was immediate the first time I laid eyes on her, sitting by the fire her first night in our village. So very different from the women of Caraica… who are tiny with brown skin and jet-black hair. When I walked into the village center, Moira had looked at me directly, no shy eyes hiding the way Tukaba would do unless I gave her tacit permission to gaze at me. Her hair is a glorious mass of flame-soaked waves and her eyes the color of jungle green. She reminds me of a wild and brilliantly colored bird of the Amazon, but she moves with the grace of a jaguar. So very different from what I am used to but immensely appealing, which I find causes me shame.

Because I don’t want to feel anything for this woman… my enemy… other than the anger I’m carrying for the way she has turned my life upside down. When we left the village, I was heartsick. Everyone had turned out to wish me safe travel, and I could barely look at Paraila for fear I would unman myself with tears. We started our hike to the Jutai River around mid-morning, and I did my best to ignore Moira, but that lasted only for so long.

We were getting closer to the Jutai as I could smell the tang of river water on the air. The red-haired woman, Moira, walked in front of me, with Father Gaul just in front of her, and Ramon leading us all. She stumbled every few feet over an errant vine or decomposing tree branch. She seemed enthralled with the rainforest, looking all around at the wildlife rather than where she should be walking.

She was an interesting woman, I admitted. Father Gaul explained to me that she was a teacher of some sort, her knowledge highly prized among her peers. Her expertise was in something he called “anthropology,” and she had made it her life to study the cultures of indigenous tribes in the Amazon. Father Gaul told me that I had a godfather who sent for me, and he hired this woman to be my teacher so that I could learn how to be a proper American when I return.

I snorted internally at the thought, vowing that I would never change a thing about myself… no matter how much they wished otherwise.