Prologue Changes

"Teach me how to fly." The girl demanded. "I know you know how."

The man pulled himself from his chair stiffly. "I used to, but those were the old days when the world seemed to be ending."

The girl folded her arms crossly. "You remember, you taught Opun a few years ago."

"But a man can forget," he said, smiling a bit.

"Not something like this!" she protested. "You can't forget this!"

Chuckling the man took the girl's hand. "Come then, little wildcat, I shall teach you to fly."

I was worried about my younger sister, she was very young, only seven years old. I was thirteen and already looking for a master to follow trade. All boys at my age became apprentices.

We lived with Uncle, who knew how to fly. No, I am not joking, its true. And I learned too, he had taught me the day I turned a decade old. Some of the nearby farmers and villagers when we go into town claim when they meet me that though I have a youthful body my spirit is wise and ancient. I am not exactly sure how to take that.

My name is Opun, which means wise in the language of the Mudpeople. My sister's name is Janglek and she has wavy brown hair and warm gray eyes and an infectious smile. Our pa had brown curly hair like Janglek but it was from Ma where she got her grin and eye color. My own hair color is light; angel-colored according to ma and my freckles are angel kisses. Figures, I got both of those features from her.

Uncle is my father's brother, a rough man with a soft heart. He took us in when our parents well… died.

At what seemed to be the end of the world, towns were burned and despair was everywhere. Ma and Pa were slaughtered while outlaws attacked our town. I remember that I stayed in the wreckage of our house, clutching Janglek who was sick with fever. Me, a six year old, all alone keeping care of a sick baby who was bawling for her mother. Who could explain to an infant about death? Certainly I could not have, I, who barely knew about death. So I didn't.

A kind old lady took us in and cared for Janglek's fever until she could communicate a relative. That was Uncle Tarkin and Aunt Mirv. Auntie Mirv died a year after we came to the farm. Janglek was only three summers old. She was left in the care of a man with many secrets and a broken boy.

I desperately wanted her life to be happy, so I doted on the child like a servant to a princess. Finally one day Uncle cried, "Spare the rod, spoil the child!" I learned that whatever Janglek wanted was not always the best thing.

The world, as you might have figured out, did not in fact, end. But it practically did for me. I was lost without my parents, and hung on to whatever I had left. That was Uncle Tarkin and my sister Janglek. Every time Janglek caught a cold I would run around crying, convinced that she was going to die. When Uncle Tarkin left to go to town I would make him swear on his left hand that he would come back.

I know better now, I think. In bad situations I overreact, not everyone is going to leave me. I also know that people break their promises. Maybe everybody is going to leave me. Of course not, Janglek would ever leave you even with her constant babble of life outside the farm. Uncle cares about you, he is not going anywhere. People break their promises, so what good is hope? Why can't things just stay the same?