Boro and Sata
by Terri Snyder
2011-12 NEBADOR Writing Contest, second place tie
This story takes place during the last few chapters of Book One: The Test, and most of Book Two: Journey.
Back in the capital city, Boro thought Sata was pretty cute. He couldn't come right out and talk about it like Miko and Neti could, but he was looking and thinking, and liked what he saw.
Everything was pretty easy until they almost got arrested, and then had to creep under a building to get into the city walls. Boro noticed that Sata was a faithful friend to Mati. That made him smile.
It was the pool of cold, dark water under the wall that really made him take a good look at her. She was strong and smart when some people were freaking out. She could swim, and didn't start shivering just because of a little cold water. He liked that.
But he only had time to think about it once they got to the old shack and Mati was trying to ride her new donkey. He watched Mati and Tera, like everyone else, but he was thinking about Sata.
She was strong on the trail to Farmer Keni's place, and then on the hills west of there. Math was a little hard for her, but Boro couldn't complain, because he was worse!
She wasn't afraid of the blood when Shepherdess Noni had to deliver a lamb, and helped him and Miko carry the mother sheep back to the camp. Boro was getting more and more impressed.
Then came a big scare for Boro. At the hot springs, Sata got all religious, and started thinking the place was evil. For a while he thought she was going to go get a priest. He told her to stuff it, and she didn't take it too well. But then Ilika, and everyone else, told her the same thing. He watched her as she swallowed her pride, poked around the hot springs and steam vent by herself for a whole day, and finally got over it.
It was along the ocean when Boro got really curious. Every time Sata came back from the beach, especially when she had been sitting out there alone, it was like she had been talking to an old friend. He knew she had some good talks with Ilika, but the ocean seemed to be telling her things too.
She was nice to Kit, but let Kibi and Buna do most of the talking. That was ok. Boro could tell that the little kid got really antsy when too many people were trying to be nice to him at once.
He noticed Sata was pretty scared when the thieves surrounded them near Port Town, but he didn't worry about it. Almost everyone was scared. Him too, a little.
When she jumped into the water at high tide to help him with the donkey, that's when he knew she was the kind of girl he really liked. There was nothing really dangerous about that waterfall bowl. He knew it, and after she jumped in, he could tell that she knew it too.
Miko didn't get it. Boro kind of liked Miko because he was strong in some ways that Boro wasn't, like talking to girls. But Miko was carrying some deep, dark fear that Boro didn't understand. Somehow it made him change the waterfall bowl, which was just a little uncomfortable, into a deadly monster. Boro didn't relate to that, and he could tell Sata didn't either.
It didn't surprise Boro at all that she was strong and did what he said during the fire at Lumber Town. Maybe he wished she had been a little nicer to Toli, but not much nicer. She kept Toli moving so he could figure out which way to go, and that really helped.
All that day, he felt like he had a huge weight on his shoulders, responsible for saving not just himself, but Sata and Toli too. When they found little Tati, the weight became worse. But all during that day, Sata was there at his side, taking as much of the weight as she could. That's what made it possible for Boro to keep going. He was so glad when they got to the fishing village.
Boro could really see the frustration Kibi was feeling as she tried to keep everyone's spirits up while they waited for Ilika and his group. He knew he wasn't doing a very good job keeping his own spirits up, and neither was Sata, but he sensed it was a time to go easy on everyone, including himself.
When they walked back through Lumber Town and there were dead bodies everywhere, he kept an eye on Sata again. She used to be a little freaked out about people dying, because she hadn't been a slave. She frowned a lot when they looked at the smoking ruins, but was ok. Boro was glad.
Then they came to Farmer Koto's house, and there was Josa.
She was strong, pretty, skilled in many ways from growing up on a ranch, and ready to get married. She was everything Boro could have wanted. He listened to her bravely tell him all her desires as they walked in the moonlight. All he had to do was say yes.
While Boro walked with Josa, Sata cried with Ilika.
Something kept Boro from saying yes to Josa. It wasn't anything about Josa, and it wasn't anything about Sata. It was how he knew Sata that made him say no to Josa. He didn't just know Sata, he had already shared a chunk of his life with her. He had shared his entire life as a free grown up with her. He barely remembered being free as a little kid, so that didn't count.
He only shared a walk in the moonlight with Josa. That just didn't compare to working with Sata in the pool under the city wall, and all the other things they had done together.
Even before Boro put his bedroll beside hers, she knew Ilika was right. If Boro didn't stay with her, she didn't want him. It was just hard to admit it to herself.
I know. I am Sata.