As Travelers in Sky Boats
by Kristin Janz
My sister blames the Travelers. Before they came, she says, we were content within the small world we knew. No one wondered what lay beyond the flat blue horizon where ocean met sky, or who journeyed between the stars. Children never complained that there was an easier way to mend fishing nets, that they did not like the taste of seaweed. Men did not abandon responsibilities to pursue the impossible fantasy of becoming Travelers themselves.
One rainy night, when both she and the water leaking through our roof were keeping me awake, I told her that she sounded like a Traveler when she spoke that way. Who was she–or they–to tell me how I should live, what I could know or not know?
She did not speak to me the rest of that night or most of the day that followed. I did not enjoy her silence as much as I had expected to.
“May I hold that?”
Traveler Jarrett hesitated before answering me, as Travelers often did. Unable to understand our words, they relied on their tools to tell them what we said and how to answer. But I did not think Traveler Jarrett’s hesitation came from not understanding, not this time. I had pointed to the tool on his wrist while asking and then held my hands out, palms facing up. How could he not understand that?
Traveler Tess murmured a warning in Traveler Speak, but Traveler Jarrett unfastened his wrist tool anyway and placed it in my outstretched hands.
Traveler Tess moved her finger around in the air in front of her, listened for a moment to a voice no one else could hear, then looked directly at me and said, “Please be careful with that.” As if I were a small child and might start bashing the wrist tool against the packed earth floor of the Travelers’ house! Traveler Tess tried to act like a mother to the other Travelers, like my sister did with me. I did not think they heeded her any better than I with my sister. (Continue Reading…)