Update: Princess Aine and her twin soul on Earth, Anya, have switched places. Princess Aine of the Stars has arrived on Earth and is traveling by bus to Chicago.
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Vocabulary: Please look up words or phrases, when you aren’t fully sure of their meaning.
It was a long and bumpy road before their first stop. Princess Aine stared out the windows at the tall, grey buildings and people walking the streets, bundled to protect against the wind. A few colorful flags flew but mostly they passed by grey and dirty streets and buildings. After some time they entered the countryside, with its waving fields of green and gold that moved under grey clouds. She tried to close her eyes and rest but felt the eyes of the others on the bus staring at her. She had tried to smooth her hair with her fingers and drape her torn gown over her skin suit. But she did not look like anyone else around, with flecks of gemstones still lodged in her hair and the remainder of her beaded gown clinging to her figure. She put her head against the window and wished for something better. “I wish I could meet someone who could help me,” she thought.
The driver slowed and then stopped the bus. “Stop for 30 minutes. Everybody — off the bus.” He called out loudly.
“Miss,” the driver spoke as Aine stepped down to the ground. “Miss, be sure you return in half an hour. Alright?” He looked worried with his brow in a frown.
“Yes of course, I’ll come back with the others. Can I get something to eat in there?”
“There, where it says, ‘Bar, Pool, Burgers’, that’s the best place in town.”
Aine entered at the sign and sat on the red stool at the counter. “I will have the bar pool burger, it’s been recommended.”
The waitress at the counter looked at her, snapped her gum and said, “Sounds like you want the special, honey. It’s $9.99. You got that?”
Princess Aine looked at her blankly.
“Oh God, these druggy types…” the woman complained. “Honey, money — in your backpack….” She pointed until Aine unzipped her backpack and found the dollar bills. The waitress nodded “Yeah, that. Listen honey,” she whispered, “Keep your money to yourself around here. You understand?” The waitress took the roll of money, counted out $20 and handed the rest back to her.
Aine looked around the room. Several men were playing pool at the table, drinking and listening to music. In the corner was what seemed to be the shadow of a man, very tall and yet Aine could perceive an energy around him that was lit despite the darkness of the room.
A man sauntered up from the pool table, “Honey, you look very pretty today.” He reached out and touched her hair.
“Layoff, Smack,” the waitress barked, “Here’s your burger and a bud, Honey. The pool is over there.” She slapped the plate on the counter, stood back and watched.
Aine turned around and came face to face with the man who began breathing down her neck. “So pretty today. Where are you headed, pretty girl?”
“Oh, Chicago, is that right? Seeking fame and fortune in the big city? Are you going to be an actress?” The man threw back his head and laughed. The other men playing at the pool table also laughed and came closer. “Pretty little honey-girl goes to Chicago. She wants to be an actress.”
“I don’t want to be an actress. I don’t even know what that is.”
“You don’t even know what that is… Well, I will tell you. That’s when you pretend to like certain things.”
“Just things…” He touched her face and his finger moved down across her chest. She pushed it away.
“I’m going to Chicago. That’s where I’m going. I have a map.”
“Oh, the pretty girl has a map! Let’s all pay attention.” A second man with rotting teeth drew closer as he teased.
“I don’t like you.”
The waitress snapped her gum, “Hear that, Smack? She doesn’t like you. Lay off… I mean it, I don’t want no trouble here.”
But the man did not stop touching Aine. “Oh, pretty girl, you need to learn how to be a better actress to make it in a big city like Chicago. You have to learn how to like certain things, things I can recommend,” he laughed.
“I will leave now.” Aine grabbed the hamburger and the beer and started to walk away, but the men drawing closer blocked her from the door.
“I don’t like you. I am leaving now.”
“I can give you a ride to Chicago. It will be easy. It will be safe. I will take care of you.
The waitress came around from behind the counter. “Smack! Stop it! She is obviously a runaway. She should go home. Not with the likes of you. Honey, just head for the door.”
Aine walked toward the door and the men surrounded her, touching her; touching her hair, her clothes, and feeling the fabric of her skin suit. “So nice, such a pretty girl. We can take care of you.”
Suddenly, Smack was up in the air and Aine had an open route to the door. She ran for it. She turned for just a moment to see the large man, who had been sitting in the corner, pushing them back towards the tables. He threatened the men, “The young lady said to leave her alone. She means it.”
The great-sized man pushed Aine out the door and walked with her back to the bus. “Get in. I will go with you for awhile.”
Aine found a seat on the bus. The great-sized man spoke with the bus driver for a short bit and then came and sat beside her.
“Thank you so much. You probably saved my life!”
He nodded. “I don’t think you know where you are. Are you on drugs? Are you a runaway?”
That’s an interesting concept, she thought, a runaway.… There are many ways to run. “I am going to Chicago,” she said.
“I heard that. Why? Where you from?” Why are you here?”
Aine longed to tell him the whole story. “I am from… Very far from here … as far as the stars.”
“If you’re on drugs, I cannot help you.”
“I don’t know what that is.” she took a bite of the burger. She frowned. It was awful. She managed to swallow the bite and pushed the rest away. “My question is, who are you? Why did you help me back there?”
“You’re young. There was a pause before he continued to speak, “You look like someone I know.”
He paused, lost in his own thoughts for a moment.
“Oh.” She waited to see if he would say more. “Well thank you for helping me. I really appreciate it.
My name is…. See, it’s right here with my picture.” She took out the wallet and showed him. “See. Anya.” She held up the picture. Yes, it was so very strange that she would arrive with a picture already, and her name, too… something was still confusing about all this. But she was drawn back into the conversation when she noticed him staring at her. “Um, What is your name?”
“You can call me Amitola.” She stared at him blankly. “It means Rainbow.” She just stared. “I am Oneida.” He could tell she did not understand him. “Native American.” Finally, he just held out his hand. Aine looked at it and eventually realized he was trying to take her hand as a friendship gesture, and she gave him her hand in return. “You seem familiar,” he said, “Who is your family?”
Princess Aine didn’t listen to his words, but she kept looking into his eyes. They drooped at the bottom as if he were sad. But those eyes were like warm ponds in which one might fall on a summer day.
Wrinkles formed lines across his face like tiny cracks in the desert floor; they decorated his eyes and his reddish-colored skin. She smiled at him. The smile he gave in return was from his eyes, alone; his lips were closed tightly as if to prevent himself from speaking too much. She cocked her head to view him from a different angle. Yes, there was something about him — something that seemed familiar.
“Do you really know where you’re going, or were you just play-acting?” He looked at her and tried to appear stern. Her long hair was whipped by the wind, her skin-suit was too tight and her dress was torn. What in the heck was going on with this girl? A girl like this was just a magnet for trouble.
“I have a map.” She opened the backpack, fumbled around and finally pulled out her map. She handed it to him. “You see? It says Chicago. Do you live there?”
“Are you going to see someone there?”
“Amitola, if I may be honest, I don’t really know. Mine is a very long story.”
Something about her was so familiar. She was quirky and kind of confused — probably a runaway. Fatherly concern swelled in his heart. He would watch over her just to make sure she was safe and well-fed.
She looked like she hadn’t eaten in awhile. Or bathed either. “Look, you can come to my home. Get some food and a bath. You can meet my family. We can try to find where you are supposed to be going.
You can tell me your story. Maybe there is a good reason for us to meet and for you to know my family. There is always a reason for things that happen to us. It is part of the Great Mind, even if we don’t always know what it means.”
- Discuss with a parent, teacher or friend what to do when you see someone being bullied or abused. Here is a website for reference:
2. List out 10 ways you can safely communicate that bullying and abuse are not OK when you see signs of them.