Where we last left Jonas and Gabriel:
Using his final strength, and a special knowledge that was deep inside him, Jonas found the sled that was waiting for them at the top of the hill. Numbly his hands fumbled for the rope.
He settled himself on the sled and hugged Gabe close. The hill was steep but the snow was powdery and soft, and he knew that this time there would be no ice, no fall, no pain. Inside his freezing body, his heart surged with hope.
They started down.
Jonas felt himself losing consciousness and with his whole being willed himself to stay upright atop the sled, clutching Gabriel, keeping him safe. The runners sliced through the snow and the wind whipped at his face as they sped in a straight line through an incision that seemed to lead to the final destination, the place that he had always felt was exiting, the Elsewhere that held their future and their past.
He forced his eyes open as they went downward, downward, sliding, and all at once he could see the lights, and he recognized them now. He knew they were shining through the windows of rooms, that they were red, blue, and yellow lights that twinkled from trees in places where families created and kept memories, where they celebrated love.
Downward, downward, faster and faster. Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below, ahead, they were waiting for him; and that they were waiting, too, for the baby. For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing.
Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.
- p. 178-79, The Giver by Lois Lowry
- p. 178-79, The Giver by Lois Lowry
Koyuki was jumping through the trees of the forest. Christmas was her favorite time of year. She glanced at the city folk, with the bright lights and carolers. But then she looked at the forest, and remembered her childhood growing up. She recalled when her old parents never bothered to give her a name. They just called me, "You disgusting little brat," or "You atrocious worm." And, when she turned 3, they started beating her for almost no reason at all.
Finally, the horrible time came. She was 6, and her birth father pulled out a gun and began to shoot at her. She ran away. Far into the forest. She remembered when she fell on her knees, humbly, looking towards Heaven. She remembered praying, "Dear God, make me a bird, so I could fly far, far from here."
God never did turn her into a bird, but he did send some of his angels. In the form of 3 women who brought her to the village, where she got her name, Koyuki.
And she decided she liked the woods better. A fawn was making its way to her. She petted its head.
But then she heard a sound. A cooing baby.
She rushed to the middle of the forest. She saw the hill on which she prayed to be a bird.
There was a red sled on the ground, and the cooing was coming from there. She saw the limp body of a boy, around 13, three years younger than her. She saw he was out cold, yet he carried a bundle. A baby, wrapped in a filthy blanket. It had tear stains on its dirty face.
She took the blanket out of the boy's arms, and headed back to her cabin.
She saw that Dororo wasn't there. He was probably with his friends.
She sighed, and carried the baby to the Hinatas' house. She considered going through the air vent, but then she thought it might harm the baby.
So she knocked frantically on the door. After a few seconds, Natsumi answered.
"Koyuki-chan? What's wrong?" she asked.
"No time for talk! Come with me!" she exclaimed.
She grabbed Natsumi's wrist, and then they were off.
They came to the clearing in the woods, where the snow was the thickest, and the hill was.
They saw the boy, still buried in snow. He was death-pale. Koyuki wasn't sure if he was alive.
"Oh my God..." Natsumi muttered. "How do we get him out?"
"I know how!" Koyuki said. "Hold the baby, please."
"No questions!" She thrust the baby in Natsumi's arms, and made a stretcher out of fallen branches and that cloth she always seems to have randomly that turn Natsumi into a ninja chick.
Natsumi sweatdropped, but without arguing, they both lifted the boy onto the stretcher, and walked to Koyuki's cabin.
"Come on, Little One," Koyuki told the baby. "You've got to make it...you've got to..."
Well, Dororo was (sorta) surprised when he came back to his home with a sick baby and an unconscious teenager. But he agreed to help.
And with Dororo's care, the baby was awake and smiling in a matter of minutes.
"He'll wake up when he warms up a bit," he said, referring to the teenager. "Koyuki, please put more wood on the fireplace."
Koyuki nodded, and did as she was told.
Natsumi was given the assignment with entertaining the baby until the boy wakes up.
"Pīku Būingu!" she exclaimed, playing Peek-a-boo with him. He giggled and laughed at the game.
"Gay! Gay!" the baby exclaimed, and pointed to himself.
"Gay?" Natsumi questioned. "Is that your name?"
"Ohhhhh! I see! Your name's Gabriel!" Natsumi exclaimed, laughing.
Then the baby noticed the boy there, and waved his arms, saying, "Jo-na! Jo-na!"
Natsumi looked at the boy, and nodded. That kid definitely knew this boy.
Jonas looked up, and then he saw a girl. He had no idea how old she was. She definitely was old enough to being able to work. She would be...Herbal Specialist, or Gardener, perhaps, considering the flowers that grew in the windows.
He sat up, and got a closer look at the girl. She had dark green eyes and hair. He never saw hair like that at the Community.
But then he remembered his manners. "Hello. What's your name?"
"I am Koyuki. What's your name?"
Now Jonas knew that Koyuki was a very unusual name, but to mention it was to fall into the category of Rudeness, and he didn't want that.
"I-I'm Jonas." Then he realized what was wrong. "Gabriel! Where is he?"
"Yeah! Where's Gabe? Tell me right now!"
"Well, Natsumi took the baby to the Hinatas' house, if that's what you're talking about."
"Who are the Hinatas?"
"They are friends," said an unfamiliar voice. He swiveled his head to see a blue Keronian, boiling a strange-shaped pot. It was circular, and it had a spout in the side, and it had a handle on it.
Jonas also noticed the tree. It reminded him of the Giver's memory, with the family, where he learned what the word "love" meant. It had wooden and crystal ornaments dangling from it. It was different, though. Instead of the electric lights, from the memory, it had candlesticks, all lit and glowing warmly around the room. Jonas also noticed the...what it was called again...?
Instantly, he made out the word fireplace.
The Keronian handed him a cup so hot he almost dropped it.
"Here's something to warm you up," he said.
"Not until you give me Gabriel," he said.
"Okay, here's a deal. Drink it, and then we'll take you to Gabriel. Deal?" He held out a hand, and Jonas shook it. He was used to Keronians. Half the time the people who come from other communities are Keronians.
"Deal," Jonas said. "I apologize for being difficult."
"I accept your apology," the Keronian said in the same robotic way Jonas was used to; he got scared he was still in the Community. Then he chuckled. "Just kidding. If you want to see Gabriel, you'll want to warm yourself up."
Jonas nodded and sipped the whatever-it-was. He was surprised at what it tasted like. It was slightly bitter, but it tasted good. He made out the word tea. It felt good and soothing dribbling down his throat as he swallowed, warming him from the inside-out. The Community never gave anyone anything warm for fear of burning oneself. Another stupidly useless rule.
Before he knew it, the cup was empty. "Thank you," he told the Keronian.
"You're welcome, Jonas."
"Wait--how do you know my name?"
"Koyuki-dono told me."
Jonas glanced at Koyuki. "You talk when you sleep," she chuckled. "Who are Fiona, Asher, Lily and The Giver?"
The Keronian's eyes widened. "The Giver? Are you the Receiver of Memory, boy?"
Then he said to Koyuki "Fiona and Asher are my friends. Lily is my sister, and The Giver is my Instructor."
She nodded. "Well, let's go to the Hinatas'."
We went outside, Koyuki took Jonas's hand. They walked to a house, decorated with lights and red flowers.
Koyuki knocked on the door, and a girl with brown eyes and pink hair opened the door.
"Koyuki-chan, who is this?"
"This is Jonas," Koyuki explained. "He's that boy we found. He wants to see Gabriel."
The girl nodded, and let them in. In there was a group of four Keronians, and two Pekoponians. One girl had purple eyes and blue hair, and the boy had dark blue hair and the same color eyes. The girl was holding Gabriel.
"Gabe!" Jonas called.
He looked up from the girl, and held out his arms. Jonas picked him up and held him as tight as he could without hurting him.
"Thank God you're safe," Jonas whispered.