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“No,” answered Nakoma placidly. She had not had to think about it for long. ”I think we’re both following the path we were supposed to walk.” Nakoma was aware that it was time she was wed, and while she couldn’t help but be anxious - would she and her husband like one another, would he speak to her mother or her uncle about marriage - she knew she had paid dutiful attention to everything a woman her age should know: planting crops, preparing them when they came to the table, making clothing and baskets, taking care of children…especially since her father’s death. It would be a new experience, to be a wife and mother, but at least she was already prepared for the skills this would include.
She thought that Pocahontas, too, had accepted the role of sachem in Powhatan’s absence well. While nobody had expected the problem of the settlers, or that Pocahontas would have to act as sachem so soon, Nakoma didn’t doubt her. Nakoma might see things differently than Pocahontas did, but she had a good heart, an open ear, and clearly wanted to keep the peace. How could she fail? Nakoma looked sideways at her best friend. ”Why do you doubt that?…Is something wrong?”
Pocahontas smiled up at the moon, though the smile was directed at the girl next to her. “Meegwetch, Nakoma.” But she couldn’t help but feel the doubt still sit there in her mind, staring her down. Where was she going? There wasn’t a clear path, that was the biggest part of her troubles. Her path practically didn’t exist at this point; almost as if she’d drifted into the trees nearby her life path. However, her life wasn’t as simple as a small, straight path. With the settlers coming, falling in love with one of them, wanting to be part of their culture, her life was far from as simple as she’d like it to be. And now she was head of a village. She still hadn’t learned how to cope with it, the pressure of more lives than just her own in her hands was startling, and honestly, scared her to death. She was 19, already leading her people.
Pocahontas bit her lip at Nakoma’s question, and continued her gaze toward the moon. “No, it’s just…our people still aren’t content with the settlers, still more than you. Sometimes I’ll go to John’s home and come back, people glaring at me. What if I start an uprising from the people?” She swallowed in fear. “…What would Father come back to? What will he come back to?” She retracted her hand from Nakoma’s, wringing it within her other hand nervously at the thought of what may happen before her Father returns.
I look once more
Just around the riverbend
Nakoma gazed up at the moon. It looked back at her, the same kindly but blank face that it always wore - not her father’s. ”How could he stop watching?” she asked simply. ”If I were taken from my family…” she shuddered, and slipped her hand into her friend’s…”I would miss them as much as they missed me. I would want to protect them.” She dropped her gaze. ”I would wonder if protecting them would be as easy, as a spirit, as it was as a warrior.” She could still remember the day Askuwheteau had returned, with Powhatan’s victorious warriors, from their attack against the Massawomecks. Her father, and Kocoum - both alive, and the entire village happy. It was the same day the settlers had first been spotted by the scouts. So much had changed since then. ”But my mother says he was named well. I know he watches over us.”
Pocahontas squeezed Nakoma’s hand and smiled. She nodded after a moment, taking in what was said. “Sometimes I wonder if my mother is watching me. I know she’s with the spirits, but..” she took a pause, sucking in one deep breath, “..sometimes I worry that I’m not following the path she and the spirits want me to. Do you ever feel like that, Nakoma? Like you’re not following the path set for you?” She swallowed, trying to wrap her mind around it. Her mother hadn’t brought along many appearances as of late, though, usually her life was more busy. She’d caught herself in much idle time in this past year.
Nakoma let out a yelp as something collided with her shoulders, her arms flying out as if to steady her. Then it was a tumble of limbs and hair and suddenly she was lying on her back, winded and warm. But it wasn’t a settler or a warrior. Still panting and surprised, Nakoma raised her eyebrows, trying to be the serious one…which was hard, when your best friend was sitting on top of you.
“I haven’t seen the sun in days,” she exaggerated, propping herself up on her elbows to embrace Pocahontas. She inhaled, and let go, and laughed. ”At least that’s how it felt. I feel as though every time I turn around one of the children tears a shoe, or breaks a basket. So I came out to see the moon instead.” She squinted up, because Pocahontas leaned over her, silhouetted against the moon. ”I can’t see it with you in the way.”
Pocahontas pouted and huffed. “I understand your family needs you, but..” Pocahontas chewed her lip and looked Nakoma in the eye, “I need you too.” So gave a small smile before swinging her leg over to the right of Nakoma and watching the moon with her. “Blue Corn Moon tonight.” She glowed up at it, thinking of her mother.
“Nakoma…do you ever feel like your father is watching over you?” She chewed her lip again, wondering if he was with her mother. If they were both well-received with the spirits. She turned her head to face her, a genuine expression sitting on her features.
The sun had set, but the moon shone as brightly as if it were day. Blue corn, instead of yellow, mused Nakoma, and almost laughed out loud. Instead she smiled to herself. It was the sort of thing Pocahontas would say. Though the ground hadn’t thawed enough yet for them to sow more seeds, the night air was pleasantly cool where it rushed into her winter dress at her wrists and neck. It was at moments like these, when Nakoma was not worrying, that she understood how Pocahontas could wander where the wind took her. (Understanding how Pocahontas never seemed to worry at all was something different.)
She stopped - nowhere remarkable, no clearing in the trees, standing closer to two than she was to the others - somebody was watching her. Whether it was a warrior from the village or…one of the settlers, she could feel her neck prickling.
Pocahontas leaned against the trunk, closing her eyes a moment before seeing a figure in the distance. Nakoma! She smirked mischieviously, swinging up her legs and perching on the branch, her legs ready to spring down below her, Her hair gently moving inthe wind. Nakoma paused directly under herbranch and she gave a malicious grin before jumping down on her and rolling into the still-somewhat-warm ground.
“Nakoma!” She giggled, straddling her friend’s sides and leaning down over her. “Where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you in weeks!” She pushed her long hair out of her face as she studied Nakoma’s familiar features and bent down to hug her. “I missed you.”