Anacanoa(ah-naa-caa-no-wah) ran swiftly through the forest, praying to Huitzilopochtli,(hoo-wit-zill-poach-ta-li) the hummingbird god of war and the sun, as she ran. Huitzilopochtli needed a sacrifice every year, or else the sun wouldn’t shine. I don’t care if the sun wont shine for the next thousand years, he will not be sacrificed,she thought. Anacanoa knew that if he was sacrificed, her heart would surely die at the altar along with him.
Tecocol(teh-coh-col) and Anacanoa shared a bond many Aztecs had never known. They had been playmates when they were just babies, and had grown to be best friends, and soon fell in love, unknown to their parents and the rest of the tribe. They joked that they had been chosen for each other by the gods, soul mates from the time they were born. Anacanoa was now twenty-five, and was determined to live the rest of her life with her beloved Teco.
Anacanoa ran barefoot through the forest, with her long ragged tan skirt slit up to her thigh, and tan sleeveless shirt, tearing as she rushed past bushes as fast as she could run. Her face was hard and determined, her green eyes focused on the horizon, and her long jet black hair that went down to her back whipping and tangling behind her. She could faintly hear the tribe’s drums, they were preparing for the sacrifice. She had heard from her little sister that Teco was randomly chosen to be the sacrifice of the year just that night, and Anacanoa had sped off as soon as she heard.
She was coming close to the temple where she saw the altar perched on top. The Chief stood with his mask on before the altar. Tecocol was painted blue, blindfolded, tied up, and held by two guards. Chief Acamapichtli(ah-cah-mah-peech-ta-lee) was starting to recite the sacred sacrifice words. Anacanoa gave a burst of energy to her legs, and started to push through the crowd of almost a hundred people gathered to watch the sacrifice. She was shoving people out of the way, her eyes still focused on Tecocol. The speech was finished, and Tecocol was brought to the altar and laid with his back arched over the tall rectangular stone, his chest facing the sky. Anacanoa was panic stricken, and tears were streaming down her hardened face as she ran faster. She got to the bottom of the temple and screamed as loud as she could
She started to climb up the stairs of the temple, and guards ran up after her.
Tecocol’s head perked up, “Ana?!?”
Anacanoa had now lost her hardened expression, and was now screaming his name and crying.
“ANACANOA!” he yelled, recognizing her agonizing screams, and tried to get up.
The guards pushed him back down, and said “It is for the gods.”
Anacanoa was halfway up the temple when the guards tackled her, and they all almost fell down the stairs, but was stopped by more guards. They held her wrists behind her back and started to bring her back down towards the crowd. Chief Acamapichtli raised the sacred white ragged blade, that had been wiped clean of blood every year, up over Tecocol’s heart with both hands. Anacanoa let out a last scream,
Suddenly, Anacanoa felt a drop of water on her cheek, and she stopped screaming to look up at the horizon, that had earlier been red and orange, but now started to dull into a grayish blue. Rain started to drip slowly from the sky, and now Anacanoa’s tears were of joy. Thank the gods, he is safe. Quetzalcoatl(cu-et-zahl-coa-tel), the feathered serpent god, son of Top Goddess COATLICUE, had come with rain to save her Tecocol. The Chief slowly lowered the blade to his side, and then handed it to one of the guards. Chief Acamapichtli spoke to the crowd,
“Quetzalcoatl has come to change Huitzilopochtli’s plans. He has come to tell us there is no need for a sacrifice this year, it will be a year of rain.”
The chief helped up Tecocol from the altar and a guard handed him a clay pot of water. The chief slowly poured the water over Tecocol, and along with the rain from the sky, the blue paint was washed away. Tecocol was untied and unblindfolded, and as soon as he could see, he ran to Anacanoa. The guards who had been holding Anacanoa let her go, and she ran towards Tecocol. They met halfway down the stairs, and grabbed each other in a deep, passionate kiss. Then Anacanoa looked into Tecocol’s chocolate brown eyes and whispered,
“The gods are with us.”
Tecocol whispered back into her emerald eyes,
“Indeed they are, my Golden Flower.”
I turn the key in the hole and twist the knob, opening the door to my small two bedroom apartment. I set down my keys on the table and drop my coat and bags on the floor with a huff. I was so productive today, but now I am paying the price. I am exhausted. After going to meetings, reading countless emails, and sitting for hours rereading and editing manuscripts, I come home looking and feeling like a replica of my mother. I sit down on my big fluffy couch and pull out the manuscript I’ve been working on lately. The author wants to call it Cosmic Paradise.
I look out my living room window at the city lights and I remember when i used to go to my mom’s work when I had a doctor’s appointment. My mom would still try to get in a few hours of work instead of taking the whole day off. She was so dedicated to her work. I remember thinking to myself that I would never get an office job like she had, it seemed so boring! Now that I have one, I have come to realize that the boring meetings and emails and office work is worth it because I am doing something that I actually enjoy. I enjoy being a book editor. Yes, the workload is sometimes heavy and stressful, but when a book is finished, the cover designed, the words grammatically correct, and the final manuscript is printed, bound, and mailed to my office, I remember why I chose this job. I get to be a part of creating novels like the ones I used to read, and hopefully they make as much of a difference in someone’s life as the ones I used to read did.
I pull a pack of gummy bears out of my coat pocket and make a cup of chamomile tea. As I eat only the red, green, and white gummy bears, I realize I haven’t changed much since those times when I read His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, and Game Of Thrones. I have learned a lot about the world, about myself, and about life, growing as a person with each new lesson; but after all this time, I still sit down with my gummy bears and tea to read a book about some far off land.
I can’t believe I get to do this for a job. I used to get so worried about what I was going to do for a career after school. For awhile I thought I would be a graphic designer, but after years in high school and college studying it I realized it wasn’t for me. I thought about being an art teacher, librarian, even a wedding planner. When I thought of a book editor I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. I had always loved reading, and my spelling and grammar was so good that my friends, sisters, and even my parents were always asking me how to spell words. It was such a relief to finally figure it out after years of being unsure. I am now doing what I’ve always loved to do; read. I am out on my own, self- sufficient in my little apartment and happier than I’ve ever been.
After I finish editing the last page of the manuscript, I gather all the pages together, stand them up on the table and tap them so they shuffle into place. Then I clutch them to my chest and hug them tightly, like I always do after I finish a book. This is a weird habit I started after reading Evermeet, Island of Elves in high school. I loved it so much that I wanted to give it a hug, so I did. As I hug the manuscript of Cosmic Paradise I think about about how good it was, and how without books like this I wouldn’t be in my little city apartment, drinking tea and eating my red, green, and white gummy bears.
I couldn’t believe how real the fairy in front of me looked. It was like something straight out of one of my fairytale daydreams. And, in fact, there is where it had come from. I took a step back and looked at the whole thing. Did I really just draw that? I thought. Usually when I draw, my face is inches from the piece of paper, and I scrutinize every line I make, erasing and redrawing over and over. And when I pull back to look at the whole drawing, I see something completely different. Usually it doesn’t look how I intended it to, so I draw close to it again and fix everything I think is wrong with it until I have to stop drawing to go do something else. My drawings are never finished in my mind, but this time it was different, this time when I leaned back to look at it, my fairy came out almost exactly how I had pictured her to.
All the fairies I had ever drawn before were nothing compared to this one. The translucent paper I had drawn her on made her look even more dreamy; like she was actually flying across the page with her delicate, dragonfly-like wings and brown hair twisted up into a pixie bun. Up until this stage in my life, I had never really been proud of my drawings. The people I drew were always small with the same awkward, flat, unproportional faces, and stiff limbs. But now I was in college, and the art classes I was taking towards my Graphic Design degree were significantly improving my drawing skills. And, of course, whenever we were allowed to choose what we wanted to draw, because we mostly were instructed to draw specific things like 3-D spheres and squares and wine bottles, I chose to draw fairies and unicorns and such every chance I got. Ever since I had begun reading fairy-tales, I constantly had them floating around in my head, and drawing was a way for me to bring them to life.
Recently in my American Literature II class we discussed the experience of finishing a book and really enjoying it. You usually want to then go and tell someone about it, but not everyone is always interested because everyone likes different types of books. We came to the conclusion that it is hard to find someone who likes the same specific genre as you, and you are extremely lucky if you find them. I was fortunate enough to find such a person at the beginning of my high school experience. Her name was Annika, and to say she was a lover of books is a complete understatement. She was the first person who really got me interested in reading books. I had a class with her freshman year, and I noticed she always had a book to read with her. I was always interested in the book covers because they usually had either some sort of creature on it, or a fictional battle scene, or some fantastical magical being.
Unlike me, she was very talkative, but at the same time she was also very nerdy and awkward. Her social awkwardness actually made me feel more comfortable around her, because I knew she must feel the same way I did when talking to people our age. She began talking to me, and somehow, without knowing it, I had made a new friend; something that didn’t happen to me very often. I always asked her what the book she was currently reading was about, and she was more than happy to explain the storyline to me in full detail. Books were mostly the subject of our conversations, and soon enough she asked me if I wanted to borrow one sometime. She said she had the perfect book for me; it was something really interesting she thought I would like, and I decided to read it.
Vampirates, I believe it was called; a young adult science fiction/fantasy novel which was very much about what it sounds like: vampire pirates. It was a unique book unlike any I had ever read before (considering the fact that the only books I had really ever read were ones I was assigned to read for school.) It was adventurous, exciting, dangerous, enchanting, and intoxicating. I finished it in a week and was absolutely entranced and amazed at the impact a book could have on me. After I returned it to her she continued to lend me book after book; she was like my own personal library, and every book I checked out I loved. I began finishing all my school work early just so I had time at the end of class and when I got home to read another ten pages of the book I was currently borrowing from Annika. At one point I was reading an average of almost a hundred pages a day. I flitted through book after book and felt accomplished every time I finished one. It became a literary addiction for me, and I had no intention of going to rehab. As far as I was concerned, reading was good for you; it made you smarter, and it wasn’t interfering with my schoolwork, so therefore I could read as much as I wanted.
Annika would always ask me how I was liking the book I was currently reading, and we would talk about characters and plotlines, and she would try not to give anything away about the stories, because, of course, she had already read every book she was lending to me.
Books had opened a door into an imaginative, wonderful world that helped me connect to another person similar to myself. I had found a friend with similar interests at a time in my life when I had been most alone. I wasn’t a social butterfly, so I was really only friends with people who I had been friends with since middle school, or people who were in my technical vocation (because I went to a technical high school), which was design & visual communications. Also, I didn’t talk much throughout the day; given Iwas talking more than I had in middle school. I had made two new friends that year, a girl named Annika, and the genre of books that became my very best friend: fantasy fiction.
I slowly and carefully take the books I need out of my locker and put them into my bag. The last thing I would want is to drop my books and have everyone in the hallway stare at me again. I have to be invisible. I can’t move too fast, or make any loud noises, or stand out in any way. My hair is long, straight, tangled, and parted straight down the middle. I wear a plain, unflattering shirt with a sweatshirt over it, simple straight-leg jeans, and beat-up sneakers.
I walk to my homeroom with the same vacant expression I always have when I walk through the halls at Nissitissit Middle School: with my head facing downwards and my arms clutching my books to my chest. I sit down at my desk which is clustered with four others to make a square. Griselda and Brooke, my two friends, sit at the cluster with me and I softly say “Hey.”
Mr. Cullen, my homeroom teacher, was one of my favorite teachers in middle school. He was always cracking jokes in class, and was very understanding if you forgot to do your homework, or if you wanted to do extra credit to bring your grade up. I had spoken to him a few times, but only when I really had to. I usually did all of my work and did pretty well on tests, so therefore I was classified as a geek. Sometimes I was also called a suck-up because teachers were kinder to me than they were to the troublemakers. This was due to the fact that I was not loud and disruptive in class, and I did everything I was told.
Sometimes my classmates would try to talk to me, but I never knew what to say back and I didn’t particularly like any of them so I would just stare at them blankly for a few seconds and then go back to doing whatever I was doing. One time I thought I heard someone ask if I was a mute. I just don’t want to talk to you. I thought. I don’t want to be friends with you, you all seem annoying and mean. Leave me alone. I was so shy and cynical of everything and everyone around me that I just sat and observed and decided who I did and didn’t like. I now look back on those days and I am ashamed of myself. I judged them all quickly without even getting to know them. My middle school years would have been much more enjoyable for me if I had just answered them when they had tried to talk to me, but instead I chose to not talk, and in doing so I isolated myself.
The bus goes over a bump and my head slams against the window, waking me with an unpleasant jolt. This was a normal occurrence for me; falling asleep against the bus window with my legs folded up against the seat in front of me, a book in my lap, and the lower half of my body asleep from being in the same position for so long. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised I didn’t walk around with a bruise on the side of my head all throughout high school from the amount of times my head slammed against that bus window.
When I open my eyes I see my book closed in my lap without the bookmark in it.Damn it, I lost the page again! I think as I flip through where I think I left off. This was the time of day in my long high school days I hated the most, but it was also the part of my day I learned to love the most over time. I hated it my freshman year because it was a half an hour of my life I thought I was wasting. Most teenagers loved the bus ride; it was a time when you didn’t have to do any schoolwork, and you could talk and socialize as much as you wanted. My problem was I had no social skills whatsoever. Ever since middle school, I was the awkward, geeky, quiet girl . Therefore my bus ride was spent looking out the window or doing my homework quietly.
I finally find the page where I left off and I begin to read again, sitting up so the blood comes rushing back into my legs. As I read, the seat in front of me, the book, the words on the page, and the sound of my classmates talking on the bus all fade away and I am plunged into the dreamlike world of the book I am reading. The experience of reading, for me, became much like watching a movie; after a while, the television you are watching it on disappears and it is as if you are present in the movie, watching it unfold. I can’t remember exactly what book I was reading, probably because I read so many books in high school, but I remember the out-of-body feeling of being able to escape my dull teenage life to live temporarily in worlds with fairies, pirates, vampires, dragons, and anything that would keep my mind off of my lack of friends and social skills. I liked books because they wouldn’t look at you like you were a weirdo, they wouldn’t ostracize you, and they wouldn’t make you feel insecure about yourself. In fact, they did just the opposite for me. They made the bus ride my favorite part of the day because I had half an hour to read as much as I wanted. I soon found myself wishing the bus ride home was even longer, because in that half an hour, I was in my wonderland, and all I had to do to go there was open a book and read.