I Will Fly Again: The Restavek tells a unique and chilling tale of a young girl enslaved by her own family members. Amid the chaos and carnage, she's compelled to find the mother she has never known. This poignant narrative produces a vivid document of the sad face of child slavery. I Will Fly Again is moving, sweet, turbulent and uplifting.
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I am walking slowly, very slowly on the large, flat, unpaved and rocky road. I feel the sharp stones under my plastic sandals. I don’t want to make any noise because it’s very quiet. I can’t hear a single sound. Not even the voodoo drums. Not even the cries of the children. The only noise I hear is the occasional chirping of a cricket. There isn't anyone else on the road. The only life visible – besides me and the little bird in my hand – are the glowworms. Where are all the merchants and their donkeys? Where are the fishermen and their horses? Where are the restaveks? How about the doggies? Why aren’t they on the street? It seems that the whole village is asleep. I begin to walk a bit faster. I can hear the sound of my plastic sandals going FLAP, FLAP, FLAP, as they rub under the bottoms of my feet. Walking as quickly and quietly as I can, I feel a sense of fear. I don't know what time it is. I don’t even know how to tell time. Auntie Nadelle said it would take me an hour to get back home and maybe some minutes too. I don't know what "minutes" are. I am hoping to get back on time so she won't get mad at me and possibly punish me with the cowhide whip that cuts my skin. I need to bring baby bird back to his mama. The road is very dark and spooky. The moon is hiding behind a large cloud and refuses to come out tonight. “Hi, Mr. Moon.” I lift my head to the sky and salute him. He doesn't respond. Maybe he‘s not in a good mood tonight. Is he upset with me? As I look around the large road and the dimness ahead, I can feel the hair on my neck rising as high as the palm trees. I am walking right in the middle of the road because all the vampires and werewolves are hiding on the side of the road. I feel safer walking in the middle. Auntie Nadelle said I had to cross three rivers before I reach my destination, a thatched mud hut near a large maple tree close to the third river. I am not even close to the first river. I don’t know how long it will take to get there. The elders say that maple tree has many vampires hiding in its branches at night, lurking and waiting to eat little children. I was told to purchase seven white candles with the one American quarter I am holding in my hand. It’s a lot of money. I have never seen so much money in my life! I hold the quarter tightly so it won't get lost. Tant Nadelle is having a big ceremony at Great-Grandpa Tida’s house to celebrate the arrival of the tall, beautiful young woman with the brown lips who just arrived from overseas. Candles will be used in the ceremony. Everyone admires the tall, beautiful woman. All the other women her age use dark pencil on their lips to simulate hers. She has long, dark, curly hair and big, beautiful dark eyes. I love looking at her just like everyone else. The woman brought sacks of rice, beans, sugar, and flour with her and she has been distributing them to all the people who have come to celebrate. Everyone calls her Belle. I wonder who this beautiful woman is. How is she related to me? I overheard Gran and Auntie Nana say she’s my mother. How do I know that? She didn't tell me. In fact, she didn't even speak to me except for a few unfriendly words about the school bag she brought me. I don't know what a mother is supposed to be like. I never had one before. Thinking about the beautiful woman helps to quiet my fears on the big road, but not for long. All of a sudden I hear a loud noise coming down the road behind me. I don't want to turn back to look; I am too scared. Even the little bird is nervous. The sound keeps getting closer and closer. I am petrified; I don't know what to do. Finally, I decide to turn around and look. Oh my God! A huge barrel is rolling full speed towards me. I have no time to think. I quickly jump to the other side of the road so the barrel won’t flatten me like a boukousou pancake made of cassava roots. In my haste, one of my sandals falls off. Hiding behind a huge palm tree, I watch the giant container rolling down the road by itself. When it disappears in the distance, I walk cautiously across the road to pick up my sandal. I bend down to pick it up, but there is only dark sand all over my hand. I take off my other sandal and walk barefoot carefully to avoid stepping on a nail or broken glass. I walk much slower without my sandals, but I can't walk with only one sandal. The elders say it is bad luck to wear only one shoe. Doing so, could hasten your mother’s death. I don't want Belle to die, in case she is my mother. I don't understand what happened to my sandal. As frightened as I am, I can't go back home without the candles. I decide to walk on the side of the road in case I encounter another barrel or some other unforeseen disaster. Ahead, I see the first river. My heart pounds. I am very happy because the river is shallow, and I can see all the maple trees where mama birds are nesting their little ones. “You are going to be home soon, little one,” I say to the baby bird with the broken wing in my hand. As soon as I put my right foot in the river, a light glows under my footstep. I put my other foot down and the same thing happens. Bright lights continue to illuminate each of my footsteps. I start running to the other riverbank. The lights follow me. I can't escape them. With every fiber of my strength, I run for my life.