When I went outside this morning, there were ten women waiting for me. I said good morning to each in proper order. Grandmother first, then her three sisters. My mamma’s oldest sister next, then Mamma and her two younger sisters, followed by Mamma’s oldest sister’s two daughters. All the women in my family were gathered. Waiting for me.
Today I was ten years old.
My grandmother touched my head, “Today we teach you something very important. Today we teach you to fly.”
The two youngest women went to the truck and brought back a bundle of skins that had been sewn together. As they waited, each of the others pulled her hood over her ears and pushed her hands further into her mittens. A strong wind had come up.
Walking together to the center of the street, my women family unfolded the skins into a large circle and stood around it while my aunts threaded curved poles into sleeves sewn around the outside edge of the circle, making a frame for it.
“Walk to the center, Natasha, ” my oldest aunt told me. As I did, each woman bent and picked up the portion of skin and frame in front of her. At a signal from Grandmother, each stepped backward, pulling the skin taut.
“Jump, Natasha,” Grandmother yelled. I jumped as the women raised the circle of skins. As I landed, they bounced the skin down then up. “Jump!” I jumped. Down, bounce, “Jump!” Down, bounce, “Jump!”
Each jump took me higher than before. I was flying, shaking with excitement. Then the women slowed and my jumps became shorter until I stopped.
Grandmother looked at me and smiled. “Now you know, Natasha, a very important thing. In order to fly, you need the help of your women family. But even more, you need their help to land.”