When I was a girl, I didn’t know people stole people. I used to sneak away from my village and go to the edge of the ocean, my ocean. I was very young and a little foolish then. I thought that huge body of water belonged to me. A big, knotty tree with twisted branches stood alone on a hill, where it watched over my village on one side and the water on the other. My favorite spot was a cove hidden among tall boulders. I went there whenever I could. All kinds of reptiles, insects, and sea plants clung to rocks, slipped into cracks, or hid in shadows to get away from the sun and wind pounding the beach. Sometimes, I took the small creatures home, but usually, I left them where they were so they’d be there whenever I came back.
Even if I was supposed to be tending chickens, cooking, or watching my brother, I’d sneak down to the water. Sometimes I could only stay a minute, but sometimes I stayed for hours, digging my toes deep into the cool sand. Warm sea wind brushed my cheeks while twinkling blue water hurried to the shore and curled into white, foamy ringlets that pulled the sand toward the bottom of the ocean. When the sand drew away with the water, I dug my toes in further, because I could feel it tugging my feet, trying to take me with it too. But I thought I was going to stay on that land forever.
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