When Ada’s mother passed, some of the other villagers had offered to take her in – poor thing was only a consequence of her parents’ actions, it wasn’t her fault. Her mother had betrayed them by taking in that traitor of a fisherman, not her. There was still hope for the girl. Ada refused, though. At fifteen, she’d rather have died than have been brain washed by the people her mother used to belong with. Giving in to their ideas would be like forgetting her father entirely and her memories were only few as it was. She preferred to keep them. Her days were a bit lonely, but company wasn’t necessary for survival. Ada never questioned why she kept going, why she didn’t just give up… that’s just how it was. Maybe it was to prove something to the villagers, or because somehow she knew there was more to this life that this little island, or maybe simply because she loved the smell of the ocean and the sun’s reflection on the waves. Whatever the reason, she survived on her own – taking each day as it came and filling her time as she saw fit.
Over time, the villagers forgot why they disliked her. They began to make up excuses – she wore her hair like a man, not short in the women’s style. She fished and climbed trees. She was always grumpy. When she fished, she used nets and slept on the ocean in a small boat for days; sometimes she used spears. Everyone knew that was dangerous but she managed to come back whole every time. She could weave like the other women because she made a basket she carried on her back when she climbed the trees – placing the fruit she collected there rather than tossing them to the ground. She rarely spoke, but she did occasionally trade with the village. Somehow, she found all the clams with pearls inside. Some say she’d made a pact with the sea serpent that controlled the waves to do this. Ada, on the other hand, just knew how to tell the age of things in the sea. A young clam, after all, hasn’t had the time to make a big beautiful pearl.
Most of what she did that the villagers considered foolish, dangerous, or suspicious, Ada simply considered common sense. She didn’t rely on anyone else, so she had to do things differently. While this began by her own choice, it began to feel more like a necessity the more the villagers would look at her with weary eyes. The only one she could talk to was Mamra, one of the oldest women in the village. Mamra had known Ada’s mother when she was a child. She always said Ada was as stubborn as her mother and as wild as her father. They didn’t talk much about her parents, even though Ada sometimes wished they did. Mamra wasn’t going to live forever, though. Whenever Mamra’s time came, Ada knew that would be the last time she’d go to the village. Then she would be entirely on her own.