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The High Five
My bare feet thumped against the sand, their speed accelerating with every breath I took. My heart rose with every step I ran, and a wide grin broke out on my face. Visitors were here, for the first time in my fifth year of life. My footsteps mimed my sister’s, eager to catch up to her and meet my new friends.
My eyes fixed onto Rosia’s sneakers, waiting for the moment when they would stop at the palm trees. Any minute now, I repeated to myself. In no time will I be with my new friends.
The wait was over. Rosia’s feet halted at a patch of grass, and I looked up to see the tall palm trees, their branches and leaves swaying in the wind. Heart flipping, I scanned the area for new people.
An older girl caught my eye. She was sitting on the platform in front of the trees, a coconut in her lap with a straw connected to her mouth. She looked about fourteen years old and had long chocolate hair, tied back in a sloppy ponytail. Her skin and eyes were light; a gray-blue color I hadn’t even known existed for eyes. It wasn’t until I glanced at the rest of the platform that I realized there were a bunch of other girls who looked like her.
They were the visitors.
My heart began to flip and my smile faded. I had never seen people like that before—especially not in my village. I walked backwards toward Rosia, holding her hand for safety. “Don’t be scared, Marini,” She smiled at me. “They are nice.”
“How do you know?” I wanted to ask her. “You can’t be so sure.”
One of the girls pointed to my sister, making my heart freeze. She spoke in a different tongue, a faster speed than I was used to. The girl next to her looked over at us and gave us a strange smile, with a soft look in her eyes and a tilt if her head. She spoke as if she were nursing a baby.
My heart rate began to increase, pounding wildly. I begged my sister to take me home, tears welling up in my eyes. Who were these people she took me to see? “Stop being such a baby,” Rosia rolled her eyes. “They are just like you and me.”
The girl who had cooed at us reached her arm toward me. I took a step back, covered in sweat and fear. Her fingers pulled back and forth, motioning me to go to her.
“Go, Marini,” My sister, pushed me forward, before I had a chance to run home. “There’s nothing to be scared of. Here, I’ll come with you.”
Rosia took my hand and led me toward the girl. Her hair was golden and glinted with the sunlight. She had brown dots on her face, scattered like small flowers in a field of grass. “What’s your name?” The girl asked me, the words sounding funny in her voice.
My throat clogged up. What did she want from me? Why did she want to know my name? Rosia nudged me, hinting that I was being rude, but I was too scared to care. The visitors could have been bad people for all I knew.
“Marini,” Rosia answered for me. I turned to face her and she shot me a dirty look for my manners.
The girl didn’t seem to care. “Marini?” she repeated, sounding funny again. My sister nodded for me, and a smile spread across the girl’s face. Many of her friends had turned to us now, some taking pictures with their rectangular devices. The girl held up a palm in front of me, saying something in her language.
I turned to my sister to translate what the girl wanted, but Rosia had just as puzzled an expression as I did. I faced the girl again, and she slapped the palm of her hand gently with the other palm. I stood facing her, confusion covering my face. She only repeated the palm slap, and motioned me to slap her palm.
I hesitated and turned to my sister, but she was talking to the other visitors. I faced the girl again; who had her palm held out awkwardly toward me. I took a deep breath. What was the worse that could happen if I slapped her palm?
I exhaled slowly and stretched my hand outward, hitting softly against the top of her palm. I pulled it back after a second, looking at her face to see if anything was different—but it wasn’t. If anything, she looked happier. They aren’t bad people, I decided, a slight smile forming on my face. Maybe we could even be friends.