Teresa Ovalle

Welcome to Me

Peata Riley

on December 14, 2015

I lived my entire young life in one hamlet. It was a good place to grow up, but I did not want to spend the rest of my life there. As other kids contemplated what public servant role they would support in the hamlet when they turned 18, I dreamed of traveling far away from my home.

I wanted to explore what was beyond the borders of places I had not yet heard. I wanted to meet new people, experience new things and learn all there was to learn about living outside the safety of one hamlet.

On my 18th birthday, I packed my knapsack and bedroll, said goodbye to my family and left the hamlet. It was a beautiful day and I was full of naiveness.

As I traveled during the day, I realized there were very few people on the path. I expected to meet many travelers moving between hamlets. I expected conversation and the opportunity to walk with others. That was not the case.

At night, however, people lurked along the path and in the shadows. They did not speak, only watched. It was frightening. I learned quickly to hide well, to use no flame and to sleep light so I could remain alert. During the night was when I first thought that I should learn to shoot a gun.

I learned about guns in my hamlet’s information hub. I found them scary and fascinating. I knew that if I could learn to shoot a gun, I would feel safer and I could protect myself.

In four day’s time, I arrived at the first hamlet; I went straight to the information hub to gather more information about guns. This information hub was vastly larger then the one in my hamlet and offered many more references. I read during the day and retreated quietly back to my hiding place at night. After many hours of reading, I felt knowledgeable. I felt that I understood the importance of proper gun handling and safety. I was excited for the opportunity to find someone willing to teach me to handle and shoot a gun properly.

After three days, I left one hamlet for the next. On one particular path, I met my gun instructor, Q. He was ahead of me on the trail. He was tall and massive across the shoulders. As he walked briskly through patches of sunlight, I caught a glint of steel through a hole in his knapsack and knew instantly that he was a gun handler. I had never seen a gun, except in pictures. I knew from my studies that only qualified gun handlers were allowed to carry guns.

“This is my chance,” I thought to myself.

I ran to catch up to him and asked abruptly, “Will you teach me how to shoot?”

He ignored me and walked faster. Although I was almost running, I kept his pace.

I spoke louder, almost a shout, as if he did not hear me the first time, “Will you teach me how to shoot?”

He stopped and swiveled toward me. He grabbed my collar in both hands, raised me to eye level and said, “Shut your mouth and leave me alone little girl. You don’t want no piece of gun handling.”

I was shocked and scared. Q was mean looking. Annoyance crowded his face like aged spider webs. I said nervously, “Yes I do.”

He dropped me to the ground and said, “Why? What do you know about guns?”

“I know guns are dangerous. I know people are afraid of them,” I stammered, and continued, “but I also know that if I learn how to handle and shoot a gun properly, I can take better care of myself.”

Q looked down at me, contemplating what I said.

“How do you know about guns? And how did you know that I could teach you to shoot?” he asked harshly, under his breath.

“I’ve read about guns in information hubs. I know a lot about them,” I said. “And I know that only qualified gun handlers can carry a gun. I saw the sun shine on the barrel through the whole in your bag.”

He looked surprised. He was careful man, but I caught him off guard.

He continued to look down at me, but I could see that he was thinking. If the gears in his head burned any hotter, his hair would catch on fire. He was contemplating whether to teach a kid, a girl no less, how to shoot.

After several minutes Q said, “Follow me.”

I followed him. I learned from him. And I became an exceptional gun handler, shooter and instructor because of him.

Peata Riley is a fictional character who lives in the future. Peata is the vehicle the author uses to spin a tale of common threads separated by temporal dimensions. Enjoy.