A Friend in the Mountains By Safeeya Malik, age 10
I was climbing up the mountain from my friend’s house, and I was getting late for dinner. It was about six o'clock in the evening and the sun would soon be setting. I looked over at the sunset and my breath caught in my throat. My name is Amy Springer, and I live in the mountains. My parents have some notion that fresh mountain air is better for 10 year-olds like myself, rather than smelly city air, which is why we moved here. I turn back to look at the the sunset again. It is so beautiful, the flaming sun setting against a background of clear blue cotton candy pink and a magnificent orange. Then I remembered I had to be home by six for dinner. I ran the rest of the way home.
As I ate dinner, I thought about the time that my parents told me that we were moving to the mountains. “Amy,” my father had said, “we are going on a great adventure!” I had been excited and asked, “Where?” “We are going to move to the mountains,” smiled my mother. It turned out that my mother had gotten to know a couple of other families in the area, so I had someone to play with, but I had not met all my neighbours yet.
Later that evening when my parents were sleeping, I looked out of my bedroom window and made out the constellations. Orion, Scorpius, Andromeda, they were all there. I felt relieved. The stars reminded me that I was living in the same world, with all of the things I love. Living in the mountains wasn’t going to be so different after all, except that your neighbours live very far away.
The next day as I was eating breakfast, my mother asked if I would go over to help out a new neighbour named Mrs. Aisha. “Are you kidding? No way!” I said. "Why not? asked my mother. “Because she sounds like a Muslim,” I said. I had heard all about Muslims and didn't like what I had heard.
“So what? She is a person too,” my mother said. She wasn't going to budge. Five minutes later, I found myself climbing to Mrs. Aisha’s house. My mother can do that sort of thing to you.
When I arrived, an old but friendly-looking lady opened the door. Mrs. Aisha told me that she needed some help moving her plants inside the house. “Snow is in the air,” she said. I finished the job in the afternoon, just when a light snowfall began. Mrs. Aisha told me to come in for lunch.
I went inside and sat at the table. Mrs. Aisha came bustling out of the kitchen, carrying a pot of something that smelled nice. She put it on the table and brought another pot. She scooped something out in a bowl and placed it in front of me. “Why, it is tomato soup!” I said. “Yup”, Mrs. Aisha said, “tomato soup and crackers.’’ “I thought you would make an Asian dish,” I mumbled, feeling embarrassed. Mrs. Aisha chuckled. "I don’t always eat Asian dishes." I finished the rest of the meal in silent thought.
When I was done, I hopped off my chair. "I'd better go now,” I said. Mrs. Aisha went to the front room. “You aren’t going anywhere,” she frowned. I ran to the window. “Oh no,” I whispered. A huge snowstorm was blowing. Snow covered everything. It was dangerous to travel through the mountains during a snowfall. “I guess you will have to stay with me,” Mrs. Aisha said, “It will be nice to have company.’’
Later that night after a dinner of delicious salad, hamburgers and fries, and cupcakes, we watched a movie together. Mrs. Aisha smiled at me, “It’s not a so bad staying with me after all, is it?” she asked. “No,” I said, “not at all.”
The next morning, I work up early and set the table for breakfast. Five minutes later, Mrs. Aisha walked in, wearing a fluffy brown bathrobe and matching slippers. “Oh!” she exclaimed when she walked in, “you didn’t have to do that!” “I didn’t want to be a burden,” I replied. “You are not a burden,” she said, “why, it feels like the old times, cooking for my children. By the way, how was your sleep?” She glanced pointedly at the light white shirt and pants that she had given me to sleep in. “Oh,” I said, “they were very comfortable.” After breakfast, and for the rest of day, we did a lot of things such as reading, drawing and knitting.
A couple of days later, I stared at the calendar. “It’s been a week since I left and it is still snowing.” “Yes,” Mrs. Aisha said. “Maybe another week or so and you will be able to go home.” “Another week!” I thought numbly.
We settled into a routine. Eat breakfast, do activities, eat lunch, do activities, eat dinner and do activities. The activities were fun, like exploring the basement or playing a game. The days passed. One day, it stopped snowing. "You can go home tomorrow," Mrs. Aisha said.
On the last night there, I found myself blurting out how I didn’t want to come to her house because she was a Muslim. She listened closely and when I finished, she went out of the room. I thought she was trying to get away from me, until she came back carrying a small blue box. “What is that?” I asked. “Nothing,” she said. She told me that I should never be afraid of her and she would always be there for me.
“That is very nice of you, but if you don’t mind me asking what is in the box?" I asked again. “Oh,” Mrs. Aisha said, “I used to have a neighbor just like you. She was Christian too, but one day she left me because her friends were making fun of her for being friends with an old Muslim lady.”
I was horrified that someone would do such a thing. Mrs. Aisha sadly continued, “In the box there were some momentos of her," she hesitantly pushed the box towards me, "I was hoping that you could fill it with your momentos instead?" I promised her I would. “I would never leave you like that,” I said. “Good,” she said, and she smiled. I was glad that she was happy again. The next day, my father came to get me. “Me and your mom missed you, Amy!” he said. I smiled, glad that I was going home, but sad that I was leaving my new best friend.