- Vol. 07
- Chapter 01
I grew up on this tiny little island. Mama pushed me into the world at high tide while Hurricane Odette was barreling toward us. Water was tickling the stilts of the house and she and Papa prayed that I’d come quickly. We wrapped you up and rowed away and that hurricane just lulled you to sleep, she told me. They named me after the storm. Odette means wealthy but when the clouds cleared, the house was gone and every other house along the water was gone. We slept on cots in the school, Mama says, and I was passed from auntie to auntie while she and Papa scouted out the sand-strewn streets.
Grandmere told me when I grew up I would either be wild like a hurricane or rich like Odette means, but not both. When I’d let out my braids and chase laughing gulls down the beach, she’d shake her head and tut-tut-tut and I’d know she was thinking about all those riches she’d be losing out on if I ended up wild.
The house I grew up in was perched up on higher ground so when the next hurricane hit, we could see the waves but we didn’t have to row anywhere, and no more babies were being born anyway. And Papa said that to Mama—the no more babies part—and she cried while we crouched in the bathroom, listening to the wind whip. I thought about the power of a storm and decided maybe I could be both wild and rich, but I didn’t tell Grandmere.
The first time I left the island was when the whole left side of my mouth hurt and Doc Pitard said I had to go get a tooth pulled. Mama held my hand nearly the whole boat ride across and I wasn’t sure which hurt more—my tooth or this feeling of how big the world was. But every time after that, it got easier and after a while it hurt more to stay home when there was such a big world to explore.
I grew up on this tiny little island and, compared to most people, I never became either very wild or very wealthy but when I come home, I feel a little bit of both, a little bit of Odette.