Beyond the Cover Introduction
Past (1/6) (Optional)
Every day is the same. Me and Brother wake up and walk 45 minutes to the coconut trees just outside the village where I live. That is where the better and bigger coconuts are. Papa follows 5 minutes later. Brother says, “When you are 8, we can go together without Papa. But you are too small.” I say, “I’m not small no more, I can do it.”
Papa always says, “Small coconut are not good enough. When you are old enough, you and Brother must pick the biggest coconuts you can find that day.”
I watch Papa shake a couple coconut trees. 1, 2, 3 coconuts fall from one coco tree. Brother’s eyes become so tiny and I see him run to catch it and set it down in a basket near my feet. Papa turns to leave.
“Papa, wait! I see a big one! Do you see it? There!” Papa pats me on the head and shakes the tree but it didn’t move. I watched Papa climb to the very top and take out a small knife. He freed the coconut from the tree. It nearly hit Brother on the head. Brother needs to be more careful. Papa climbs down and we head home.
Today is a victory. We picked 4 nice coconuts and got to go home very early today. Papa says that we don’t need to pick coconuts tomorrow since we have 2 extras. On the way home I sing, “Coconuts, coconuts. You nuts for coco, I nuts for coco. Let’s go make some Coco Nutty Candy! Coco Nutty Candy!”
I wish Momma was here. She would be so happy to see how many pretty coconuts we brought back. But she not here no more, she died when I was just born. I imagine a nice smile on her pretty face. I don’t know what she looks like but Papa says she was very beautiful.
At home, I see Brother and Papa cut each coconut in half. They hand them to me and I use my hands to scrape out the inside and put it into a big bowl. We keep the shell of the coconut to make a pretty bowl and sell it with the Nuts for Coco Candy. They don’t let me in the kitchen where they turn the coconut into hard pieces of candy. My only job is to scrape the insides out and paint the bowls.
When I finish painting the bowls, I line them up, and pick my favorite. Papa says Momma is always watching us from above. I run to the highest hill in my village carrying the bowl with my two hands and sit at the very top. I show Momma my best work of the day. She listens. I know it.
I can’t wait ‘til next week. I will be 8. I am Nina. I live in a small village near coconut trees. I don’t go to school because there is no school. Brother said there was one, but no one wanted to teach us. No one has money to go to school. That’s okay. I have no time to learn. I have to help Papa pick coconuts. But I think I’m clever.
. . .
Today is my birthday. I am Nina. I am 8 today. “Papa, Wake up! I am 8 today! I’m picking coconuts today,” Papa’s eyes shot open. “Papa, you promised. I’ve been watching carefully. I can do it.” Papa calls in Brother and whispers something.
Me and Brother arrive at the coconut tree. I run to shake the tree like what Papa did. Brother yelled, “Nina!” and ducked away from the falling coconut. “Nina, that’s too dangerous! You have to be more careful and make sure I’m ready to catch it . . . Okay, go ahead.” I shook it again but nothing, I ran to another tree and shook it, but again no coconut fell. Brother said that he’s going to need to climb and I need to keep my eye out for falling coconuts.
“Can I do it? I like to climb.”
“No, you’re too small. It’s too dangerous.”
I watched Brother struggle. He grabbed onto the tree but couldn’t lift himself up to climb. I saw him try over and over again, but kept falling on his butt. I saw a huge coconut in another tree and ran over to start climbing.
“Brother, look! I can do it!” I am very good at climbing. I climbed very fast. But I didn’t have Papa’s knife, so I just pounded my fists on the coconut. “Brother, be ready to catch it!” I can tell that he was angry. I can see his tiny face turn red. Brother was so angry that I think he forgot to concentrate. That huge coconut fell on his head.
I see Brother’s body lying on the ground as if he were asleep.
Comment below if you wish for me to extend this short story. Or Comment below your theories on what happens next.