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Ikaia Wong: Dirt Boy

Ikaia Wong

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Dirt Boy


I always tried to make the effort to connect to my adoptive human sister. Our relationship often ran hot and cold. Sometimes, times were good and we’d genuinely enjoy each other's company. But there were times where she just couldn’t stand me. I wasn’t like the other human children she knew. I was the only Klingon in the bunch and an awkward one at that. To her, I was an embarrassment. Something worthy of her scorn on her worst days. On those days, she liked to use her words like a well wielded d’k tagh. She knew full well that physically hurting me was a difficult task. So she resorted to using her voice.


Dirt boy was one of her favourite insults. That one came about how our schoolmates thought unwashed Klingons smelled like. Naturally, she picked that one up and would hurl it my way when she wanted to get under my skin. I hated that one. I hated hearing it at school but somehow it felt worse at home and she *knew* it. 


But if she really wanted to cut down and hurt me as best as she could, she would say that she’d wished that the Night Marchers would carry me off so she’d never have to see me again. She knew as well as I did that the Night Marchers only allowed safe passage to families of Hawaiian descent of which I was clearly not. Those were the worst days where she wanted to hurt me the most. 


I remember one of those days. My mom was on shore leave and had decided to spend it on Earth with myself, my dad and my sister. We had gone up for a day’s hike to Diamond Head. It grew to be one of my favourite trails over the years. This was my first time hiking it as a little kid. My sister, at the time, was far older both physically and mentally than where I was at this time. I enjoyed my time on the trails. I had a chance to see plenty of wild life while I was there. It was a warm and beautiful day. Most of the hike itself, I don’t have the strongest memories of. What I do remember was towards the late afternoon.  We had hit up one of the rest stops and already we had lost sunlight due to cloud cover. I caught my sister wandering off towards the bushes and thought it’d be a good idea to follow her. After all, at the time I just wanted to be with her. She caught me and started trying to run away. She seemed to *hate* the idea of me following her. But I did my best and kept running after her. We were getting further and further from the rest stop. I did finally catch up and tried to reach for her hand. She surprised me by turning around suddenly and pushed me.


“Go away!” she shouted.


I didn’t listen. I told her that our parents would be upset if we weren’t with them. I don’t remember much of what was said before she started looking around. But when she did start looking around at where we were, I could see her looking really scared and then *furious.*


I remember her shouting at me. Yelling at me.


“You got us lost, Dirt boy! Mom and dad aren’t going to find us because of you!”


I yelled back pleading with her to stop calling me “dirt boy.” But she wasn’t listening. I should have seen the next words coming. But I didn’t. She was scared and ready to lash out at me any way she could and the next words she chose cut me deep. She screamed them at me with tears in her eyes.


“I hope the Night Marchers would just get rid of you! You’re NOT family!”


It hurt. It sliced into my heart and deep into my soul. I don’t remember what was said next as I took off running into the bush. Tears in my eyes and branches smacking at me like whips as I was running. I tripped over my own two feet and scraped my knees in the dirt. But that didn’t stop me. I popped back up and kept on running. I didn’t know where I was going. All I wanted to be was *away.*


I ran for as long as I could. It had already begun to rain when I stopped. I was so tired from running, I just flopped down under a tree. My legs were caked in mud and dirt. Rain soaked through my clothes. My hair was wet hanging in streaks from my head. I did what I had wanted to do. To get away. I was away alright. 


And completely lost.


I didn’t know where the trail was. I didn’t know if anyone was looking for me. What I did know was that along with the rain, it was starting to get dark. To make matters worse, I was completely alone.


I was crying before. But I really lost it then. Not just from the pain I felt in my heart and soul but also from fear. The idea of never being found and no one is looking for me. Both those fears were playing in my mind. I don’t remember how long I sat for. But eventually the rain stopped and I could just hear the wind in the trees. It was night by then. The air had a chill to it that seemed to sink into my rain soaked clothes and make its home in my bones. The forest had an eerie silence to it safe for the sounds of insects. 


But I could smell something. It was like volcanic sulfur. The smell almost made me gag. It was impossibly strong.


And then I heard *it.*


The sound of a conch shell in the distance. A sound that chilled me to the core. I could feel my heart in my throat. I knew what this was.


*The Night Marchers.*


I got up and started running.


The sound of the conch shell was getting closer.


Branches tore at my legs.


I could hear the drums echoing throughout the forest.


What if my sister was right? What if this was how I was going to die?


I kept running.


I heard shouting.




They were getting closer. I tripped over a stray branch and fell forward into the mud. I tried desperately to get up. But I just couldn’t get my legs under me. Everything felt impossible at the moment.




The shouts were like thunder in my ears. The smell of sulfur was getting stronger. Somehow in my heart I knew I couldn’t outrun them. Drum beats matched my heart beats in their intensity as they pounded in my ears. They were closing in. Tears in my eyes and panic in my mind, I struggled to figure out what to do next.




I tried to think back to what I’ve heard about Night Marchers. The only thing I could remember was that if I removed my clothes and got on my hands and knees, maybe they’d spare my life. I started with my shirt. I remember feeling the mud slick texture of my shirt in my hands as I tried to pull it off my head. I will never forget the feeling of it in my hands that day. I struggled with it. I tried to pull it off of me to no avail. The most I could do is pull my arms out of my sleeves. It just draped off my head in a wet muddy mess as it clung to my skull. The drum beats were impossibly loud as I heard the conch shell sound again.

I had run out of time. They were here.

I left my shirt on my head as I fell forward into the mud trying to bow. I was shaking. Scared. My hands were tensed up into little balls. I hoped this would be enough. I really hoped this would be enough. I could hear the sounds of bushes moving. There was the sound of feet as they splashed through the mud. I could hear my own heart in my ears. A cold chill settled into my chest. The sound of footsteps were right over me. I bit my bottom lip to avoid crying out in fear.


Then there was silence. As if they had stopped.


I didn’t dare look up. I didn’t want to know the answer if the Night Marchers were still here. The only protection I felt like I had was the shirt over my head. I didn’t know if this was the end of my current nightmare or the beginning of another one. The silence seemed to stretch on for an eternity when I finally heard a voice.




The footsteps moved on. The drumbeats were now moving further away until finally there was silence. I pulled the rest of the shirt off my head as I sat on my knees. I knew what that word had meant - “This one is mine.” At that moment, it had taken at least a little bit of my pain away. The Night Marchers made me aware of something. I didn’t have to be by blood or human to be a part of my family. They recognized me as part of my human family. I belonged. Out of a cold and miserable night, this was one small thing that gave me comfort


It didn’t feel like it was too long afterwards that I heard voices calling my name. With my shirt wadded up in my hands, I called out to them. I could see the light of sims beacons coming my way. I kept calling until my voice was sore. Coming through the bushes, I could see the park rangers coming to find me. I remember the gray blanket they wrapped me up in as they carried me to my mom. I was glad to see her face again. Her hug felt like the warmest thing on a chilly night.


There was something important I took away from all this that I still remember all these years later. That family isn’t always by blood. Sometimes it’s chosen and it’s bound together with love. As for my sister, her threats about the Night Marchers never hurt me again. Sure, she’d be able to find other more ridiculous things on the bad days. But I knew one important thing. 


This is my family. And I belong.




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