Salt

A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

Helen Frost

Frances Foster Books

JAMES
 
Dang mosquito bit me right where I can’t reach it.
I rub my back against a hickory tree—up and down,

side to side. There—almost got it. Might look silly,
but nobody’s watching. Except a squirrel—I hear it
 
up there in the branches, and I get out my slingshot.
Ma will be happy when I bring home something
 
for the soup pot. Where is that old squirrel, anyhow?
Sounds like a whole family of ’em, laughing at me,

and I can’t see even one. What? Not again! It’s
Anikwa, laughing as he jumps down from the tree

 
and lands beside me. How long has he been watching?
I swear he can sound like anything! Squirrel, bumblebee,
 
bluebird, or bullfrog. Once, I heard my baby sister crying,
but when I turned to look—it wasn’t Molly, it was him!

 
ANIKWA

James looks
up in the tree like he thinks
there’s a real squirrel hiding somewhere
in its branches. I suck in my cheeks
to make myself stop laughing—
he shakes his head,
puts away
his stone and slingshot,
gives me a smile that means I got him
this time, but next time he’ll be watching if I
try that trick again. Come on, he motions as he heads
to the berry bushes. I’ve seen him out here picking berries
every afternoon since they started to get ripe.
Makiinkweeminiiki, I say, pretending to
put berries in my mouth and
pointing down the trail
toward the bushes.
He nods his head.
Yes, he says,
blackberries. As we walk
to the berry patch, he tries my word—
makiinkweeminiiki, and I try his—blackberries.
I roll both words around like berries
in my mouth.


 
Copyright © 2013 by Helen Frost