It was late winter in Baie-Saint-Paul, in Canada, when my family and I first moved here. The frost-covered grass dazzled in the sunlight, like a thousand crystals beneath you. The trees’ leaves’ were all mixtures of beautiful colors. Orange, red, light-green, pink, purple, reddish-brown.. The forests were relaxing to run through, the creeks rippling water peaceful and soothing, the lakes and ponds so full of life. Refreshing swims through them at night. It was quite magnificent.
Baie-Saint-Paul was big, but felt small because of the low population, a little over 7,000. Yet, it was beautiful and comforting. It had all those things, yet the forests extend beyond measure, the creeks and lakes and ponds flow through other countries. It was a great place, but the habitats were mysterious and no matter how much curiosty one would have to explore them, none had the courage and bravery to do so.
The towns-people were very kind and we all helped each other when in need. My parents, Monaloew Barumanoa and Olfikuru Barumanoa raised me, my little sister Aoniawe and my older brother Rufiki in a medium sized, beautiful, colorful house.
We’re a typical middle class family. I clean the house when told to, play outside whenever I want, my little sister plays with her toys and makes messes that the others have to clean up. My brother looks for jobs, my mother works late to keep our money in range and my father owns his own business, so we keep a stable life. But then again, I can’t say that for everyone. That was then. This is now. Lives don't always stay the same. I knew that too well. Cause my life, was going to change. It did change.. Drastically.
I didn't know how it happened, or why, but it did. All I know is..
And here is my story.
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“Are we there yet?” My little seven-year-old sister’s high cheekbones scrunched up her eyes as she whined next to me in the middle-back seat (there are three rows of seats). I didn’t blame her. It was stuffy and the heat was on. Even though there was enough space, it felt tight from all the days we’ve spent in it.
“Don’t worry Aoniawe, we’ll be there soon.” My mother’s sweet American voice sounded from the passenger seat of the truck.
We had a black Ford Expedition. It was a big, travel-size truck that we used whenever we went on vacation. But this was no vacation. I’m talking about moving from St. Paul, Minnesota to Quebec, Canada. It took hours, days even. About a week, just to get closer and still, we weren’t there. We stayed at a bunch of rest stops and got plenty of gas to fill the car up. There was no need to buy food, we brought tons of canisters and containers.
My father sat in the front seat, concentrated on the road. My mother was reading a book, her expression happy. My older sixteen-year-old brother was sleeping, his muscular arm against the window, his head rested against it. My brother was a lean boy, with broad shoulders, long legs toned with muscles of a marathon runner. Even though I did gymnastics and currently danced, which kept me in good shape, I still admired my brother. We both have long legs, muscular from our father egging us on to run. My arms were skinny compared to his. His face structure was strong and handsome. Mine was a mixture of strong yet soft. I had rounder cheeks and bigger, bulging eyes. His eyes were narrower and had a gleam of confidence and power. I, on the other hand, am self-concious when it comes to others, but I always have something good to think about.
Some people thought of my brother as mean-spirited and very arrogant at the sight of him, but he was actually very patient, kind and wise. And also a little clown.
But enough about him. Let’s talk about me and what happens next.
Long story short, my name is Laerys. I’m a twelve-year-old African-American girl from Rockville, Maryland in the U.S. I left when I was seven and moved to Wisconsin. After a couple of years, my family started seeing the problems of the state and so we moved to Minnesota, which was a little better. We went to cool places and played family games outside, went on walks through nature. It was fun.
Until..someone stole money from my parents account and moved all the way to the other side of the U.S. Eventually, we got it back and the guy was sentenced to ten years in prison, still serving.
Then we heard of gang violence and burglaries happening near our neighborhood. That’s when my parents thought it was best for us to leave, for the sake of their children and our lives growing up. Now we’re driving to Quebec and apparently almost there.
“Dad.” I poked my father’s arm like usual whenever in need or want of something. He laughed and looked in the front-view mirror, right back at me.
“Yes, Laerys?” His tone was deep and his voice was hinted with a strong African touch. My little sister and my older brothers facial structure could be melted into one to make my fathers. Me on the other hand, I looked just like my mother.
“Can I have some of the leftover donuts?”
My father lightly chuckled. “Yes, you can. But only two.”
“Okay.” I turned my body and lifted myself up farther in my seat, making sure not to hit my brother, and fumbled through bags of food to find the donuts underneath. The box was still smooth and uncrushed by the heavy bags of food. I quickly grabbed it and opened the fold-over covering.
Without examining the different flavors, I grabbed a glazed one and started stuffing myself.
“And can you please turn on the A.C? The heat has been on too long.” My little sister whimpered in a high pitched voice.
“Yes, Aoniawe. Calm down, it’s just a little heat.” My dad informed her.
“Sure it is.”
My mom laughed and looked up from her book, turned around and gave my sister a warm, reassuring smile. “We’re almost there. Very close. You’re so impatient.” She joked and grabbed Aoniawe’s chin, softly rubbing it. “Ooh, my little sweet pea.” Then she turned back and continued her book, not noticing how frosty and crumby my mouth was.
I finished up my glazed donut and snatched up a raspberry-filled, chocolate frosted donut.
Next thing you know, my brothers mouth clamped down on the donut and took a chunk out of it.
“Hey!” I slapped his arm and curled my bottom lip in annoyance.
My brother smiled at me. “I guess my keen animal senses sprung out and I smelled the donut just in time. I couldn’t resist.” He said through a mouth full of my donut.
“Oh, be quiet. Since when did you wake up?” I turned back to my donut, holding it away from his face and started chowing it down.
He laughed. “To be honest, I was getting ready to wake up anyway.” He stretched and yawned in is seat. I felt his arm wrap around my neck. “Now, I get to joke around with my little sister.” He closed his eyes and smile brightly.
I didn’t have a choice but to laugh. “Well mom says we’re gonna be in Quebec real soon. After we get settled in, we can all go outside and play. The snow is melting out here, so we’ll be okay.”
"There she is. My bright little Laerys.” He rubbed my curly afro and looked out the window. “Wow, it looks so cool out here!”
“Yup.” My mom butt in. “We’ll be at the new house in about thirty minutes.
“Thirty!?” My sister whined. She made a disappointed aww sound and crossed her arms.
“Don’t worry Aoniawe. Thirty minutes’ll be done before you know it.” I tried to get her hopes up.
Thankfully, she gave me a look of possibility. “Well...okay..”
My mom gave me an approving nod through the front-view mirror and I smiled, turning my head to look out the window again. My brother was right. It was really pretty outside. The leaves’ on the trees’ colors’ may have been fading for the return of Spring, but they were still tainted with beautiful shades that danced in the wind. It was like the trees’ had their own language. The rhythmic sway of the branches created a melody, while others a harmony and the wind carried the beautiful, whistling notes to our ears.
I could hear birds chirping as they flew over tree-tops while we passed the forests. Lakes sat in the middle of habitats. Rivers ran through cities, under bridges and the unknown. It was all so mesmerizing. I felt the urge to explore it all.
When I get older, I’m gonna see the world through my own eyes. And I’ll make sure of it.