What're Friends For?
by Katelynn Persons
2011-12 NEBADOR Writing Contest, second place tie
This story takes place in Book Two: Journey, just after Boro gets a marriage proposal from Josa and Ilika tries to reassure Sata that it will be a good thing.
Sata headed towards the rows of trees by camp. Ilika had said a lot, and she had a lot to think about. She knew she had an infatuation for Boro, but would he stay with Josa, or would he say no and let them get closer? The whirlwind of questions flooded her mind until she heard a voice behind her.
"Sata, wait up!"
She turned around quizzically to see Kibi jogging towards her, trying to catch up. She gave a small smile and waited for her friend. "What's up, Kibi?"
"You don't want to wander all alone, that's dangerous. Why are you heading out here anyway?"
Sata looked at her friend shyly. "I was just going for a walk."
"Oh, alright," Kibi said, not buying it. "Want a walking buddy?"
"Sure," the young girl said with a smile.
"Cool, let's go!" Kibi grinned as she linked arms with her friend and headed into the trees.
Sata kept quiet most of the way, letting Kibi talk about the camp and the people, not caring to mention anything about her conversation with Ilika.
She looked up to see Kibi looking questioningly at her.
"You're not listening ... what are you thinking about?"
"I'm not thinking about anything," Sata said as she and her friend stopped walking and looked eye-to-eye.
"Uh huh, right," she said disapprovingly, putting her hands on her hips. "Come on, Sata, we're friends, aren't we?"
"Of course we are, Kibi."
"Then why aren't you telling me the truth? Friends don't lie to each other." Kibi watched as a sad look came over Sata, so she did what she thought was best and put her arm around the girl. "If you don't want to talk about it, I understand."
Sata remained quiet for a long time, and Kibi stepped back, letting her think. "Ilika and I talked, that's all."
"You and Ilika?" Kibi repeated, raising her eyebrows. "What about?"
Kibi smiled. "About his obvious marriage proposal from the goat lady?"
"Yeah ... I don't want him to stay, Kibi. I know that's wrong of me, that I should want what Boro wants, but I just can't help it! I like him!" Sata threw her hand over her mouth as her face turned an instant beet-red.
Kibi tried to suppress a laugh. "I know you do."
"How did you know?"
"Sata, you and Boro have been attached to one another since you began talking to each other. You two have been getting closer as people, just as Ilika and I have."
"Yeah ... what would you do if Ilika had the chance to walk away?"
Kibi looked back towards the camp through the trees and saw Ilika helping the other students, with his seemingly-permanent smile. "I'd want him to be happy. If I'm not what makes him happiest, I don't want him to stay. It'd hurt for him to ever leave ... I like him just as you like Boro. But at the same time, if you like someone like that, you have to be ready for things to change, for someone to decide that happiness would be better found elsewhere. We all hope that it doesn't happen, but sometimes it does anyway, no matter what we try to do about it."
Sata looked down and thought for a long moment. "I guess you're right."
Kibi touched her sad friend's shoulder. "Boro is a good guy, and will make a good partner someday. But you may learn about him through this. Though I think he'll make the right decision.
Sata smiled gently. "That's what Ilika told me, only a little different."
"Great minds think alike," Kibi said with a shy smile. "I know you understand where we're coming from, too. I think Boro really likes you. I don't think he'd give you up at this point. But if he does, then I know you'll be just fine. You're a strong girl, and no boy can change that."
"I hope so!" Sata said with a grin, which slowly faded after a moment. "I've just been lonely, Kibi. I don't know how I'd keep being happy if Boro wasn't here."
Pretty Kibi looked at her friend with an expression Sata couldn't place. "Sata, if you don't mind me being honest with you, I think that you need to realize something."
"Go ahead," Sata said softly.
"Boro isn't the only thing that can make you happy. You need to be able to make yourself happy before any boy can take on the responsibility. You should be confident and content without Boro there to do it for you. I had to learn that the hard way ... there was a boy once, back when I was a slave, that I thought would make me happier than I could be otherwise. But I had to give him up to another girl, because that's what he decided would make him happiest. That was okay, though, looking back on it now. If he wouldn't have done what makes him happy, then I wouldn't be where I am now with Ilika, I'd still be thinking that only he could make me the person I am. After he left, I had to make the decision to be happy with myself, and to want to be who I am now."
Sata looked down and laced her fingers together, playing with her hands as she listened to her friend's words. "I understand."
"I have to make myself happy. I have to be happy with who I am. Once I did that, I was able to let myself be with Ilika and feel like I do for Ilika. I'm the happiest I've ever been, it all started with me."
"I know what you're saying, Kibi. Before anyone else can make me happy, I need to do it by myself."
"See? You're a quick learner." Kibi smiled.
"It's going to be hard," Sata said slowly, "but with friends like you by my side, I'll be okay no matter what Boro does."
"There you go! I knew you'd be able to do it!" Kibi pulled in her friend and hugged her tightly. "Come on, Sata, let's get back to camp before Ilika gets on both of us for being gone so long!"
"Alright, Kibi ... and thank you, for everything. I'm okay now, and I know I always will be, thanks to what you've done for me today."
Kibi smiled and linked arms with the young girl. "What're friends for?"