Friday, February 4, 2022

Microstory 1815: No Contact

My people have always been aware that the world is larger than just our one little island. We even have a history of trading with some of our neighbors. Many generations ago, however, we decided that we didn’t need anything from anyone else anymore. Our former trade partners accepted this, and moved on, but then my ancestors discovered that there were others who were less used to being told no. As our oral history tells it, one of the first major interactions we had was with an army of men who wanted to take everything that we had. They wore clothing made of rocks, and threw fire at my ancestors. They must have assumed that they were superior warriors. But this is our home; we will always defend it, and we will always be better. The survivors attempted to retreat, but my ancestors only let one of them go so he could warn all others to stay away. Apparently, some people did not get the message, so a few more attempts were made to conquer us. We lost a lot of lives to the wars, but we won every time. After that, a small group of men and women, who appeared to be a family, showed up on our shores. They had books in their hands, and they drew in the sand, and they pointed to the sky. We speak our own special language, so communication would have been rather difficult for them. After much time, the ancestors realized that these strangers were trying to convey the meaning of God. They showed images, and used other symbology, which my people did not recognize, so I believe that they had a very different idea of who God actually was, and what she could do for the world. They too left the island, but much more peaceably, for we are a reasonable people, and we recognize surrender.

The first interaction I remember was when I was only a small boy. I remember them being less hostile than the fighters, but less peaceful than the storytellers. They were trying to take something from us too, but they obviously preferred us to give it to them without bloodshed. I was very young, I don’t know exactly what the white men wanted. They seemed to think that there was something special about our land. We always considered it sacred, but that was no business of theirs. I think they eventually got the message...somehow. My mother led the battle that fought them off. There was less death than in past conquests. No one died on our side, and it was clear that some of the invaders didn’t want to fight at all. They actively tried to pull the more aggressive of their group away, and we let them. We are less violent than we once were. A few suns later, a single woman arrived on the shore. I remember thinking she was pretty, but we still couldn’t tell what she was saying. By her hand gestures, my father believes that she was attempting to apologize for the recent invasion. We let her go, hoping that she understood that it could not happen again, or we would kill without question. One morning many seasons later, after a storm, a girl I hoped to one day marry shouted from the shore. We ran down to find her hovering over a white man who was lying on his back. My mother tried to spear him, but my friend and I stopped her. This man was cold and blue. Pieces of wood and other things had washed up alongside him. It was evident that he did not come on purpose. We begged them not to kill him, and they eventually agreed. We were lucky. A few months later—after the man had given up hope on rescue—my wife-to-be fell into a deadly fever. He gave her some of his medicine, which he did not seem to think was a big deal. Today I’ve learned that she will outlive me.

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