African American Coming of Age Adventure

Don't tell anyone here in Pathostan, but I don't make decisions the same way they do. As a secret archaeologist and a council member to the prime minister, I'm qualified to tell you. 75 years after my country's independence and on the eve of an agreement for diplomatic relations, my mother, the original archaeologist of our family, met my father after traveling to Pathostan to dig at the Buddhist ruins site. As soon as she and numerous, countless others were let in for the celebration, the leader of Pathostan initiated a lockdown. All airports were grounded. All waterways were blocked. Military troops were on the ground and barricading car and foot traffic exit routes. What made them make this choice? You see, he had a bad feeling.

Pathostan's president, Ayyubi Abbas, decided to lockdown his whole country based on a bad gut feeling. He wasn't sure he wanted to allow the diplomatic relations to proceed. Something told him another country digging in his country's temple ruins might not be a good idea. His whole world is devoid of logic. The quest was to bridge the gap between Ethotopia and Pathostan history and knowledge. To create a unified understanding. 

Pathostan has a bad rap for a fickle nature. Their descendants and all those living there developed a particular gene that only releases the growth hormone for the amygdala of the brain. You see, no prefrontal cortex for them. All emotions. Limbic system a go. It wasn't really emphasized, but my mother found out about it from a rich doctor wanting to study it. So she was on a team to see if any skull or body remnants could be found from the temples to harvest DNA and do some testing. They wanted to know just how the world's evolutionary order had deviated so much. 

And then my mother was stuck at the border. She was a beautiful African woman. She was Amharran and had olive-brown skin like creamy chocolate mousse. Her name was Berhane, meaning my light in our culture. I came to be because my father, Elaf, saw the light in her. He was blinded by her beauty and brains. Her decision-making didn't seem to hinge on her emotions but was founded on her knowledge of science. He immediately whisked her away and asked her to live in his home with him to get to know him better. Apparently a regular custom of the country, she said yes. Knowing she was safest being under the radar and appreciating such an illogical choice she would never have made otherwise. Avoiding jail or worse was her only motive at the time.

She and my father had an affair as he was already married but had moved out and separated from his wife. When he saw my mother walking from the border, he thought her a Pathostanian archaeologist leaving the chaos and he didn't want to see her taken by another. Eventually, she told him the truth. After she was pregnant. 

My name is Elane, a variant of Elene, also meaning light. As you can see, my parents thought me a precious combination of them both. They wanted me to secure a bright future. I wish they were here to see me now. Sitting behind a big horseshoe of a meeting table as one of the select few of the prime minister's council. My parents were killed in the battle for Ethotopian independence during the fight for my mother's home country when I was 14. I'm only 17 now. It hurts every day without them here. 

It's hard at times to pretend that my emotions rule my decisions. Other times, it's fun to let my wild and impulsive side free. They can't know until the time is right that I base my council on my comprehension, and my authority is related to my chosen pursuit.

Ten days until I'm 18. Ten days until I met up with the rich doctor's hired men.

I say little this meeting. Only one left, four days before the rendezvous. Unless we are called on emergency. My mind is elsewhere. We are to meet on the inner defensive wall of Vedana-Kama-Tanha, the main temple ruin.

"Elane, what do you feel about what Yusuf suggests?" quips Ayesha.

"Oh. Well, you know. I think he should go with his first plan" I mumble, without really knowing all the details. 

"You think... Since when are real decisions made on thoughts. Here in the high council, our sentiments take first and only priority" she retorted.

"Okay, Shasha." I vindictively call her a nickname I know she hates. 

"Yusufffff, she's doing it again"

"Council meeting adjourned. I have a choice to make and I can't feel all of my senses with you ladies bickering" says Yusuf.

With a raise in her voice, "You can't keep doing that" Ayesha throttles. 

"Ugh, I can and I will. Angers ugly on you, dear," flatlines Yusuf.

Well, I lucked out on that one.

Heading home, I grab a quick black espresso to go over the plan again tonight. There can't be any mistakes.

The last of my patience in my body's clock ticks by like a large swinging grandfather pendulum as I beg it to move faster. My final council meeting goes by without a hitch. Four days left. 

On the day we are supposed to meet at 2400, right as the clock swings to my birthday tomorrow on February 28th, I pack my bug-out bag around 1300 hours after grabbing a quick black espresso and a cream pastry for lunch. Money, fake passport, jewels, essential dig site and collection equipment, a change of clothes, rope, and my newly bought Pac-Z-9 handgun. 

Just a few hours to kill. I will succeed where my parents have failed.

Just my luck, an emergency meeting is called at 1900 hours. As I open the towering, mahogany doors a bag is slammed over my head and my wrists are zip-tied behind my backpack. 

Is this Ayesha's doing? I hear Yusuf's booming voice, "I'm surprised you came, Elane, if that is even your name." 

He kicks me in the ribs. Disoriented, I fall to my left as I feel my side arguing and twinge. A bruise forming. I bellow, "More my real name than you would even be blessed with."

Men pick me up and trot me out. As we ride in what I can only assume to be some sort of box truck with all the room and bumpy ride. They left my backpack on. I pull my arms down and under me to reset my body. I brace myself against the truck wall and ram my knee into the center of the zip tie as hard and as fast as I can. It cracks under the pressure. My hands are free. The canvas bag was duct taped to my throat and hair. Even the knife I fish out of my pocket can't rid me of the remnants, so I chop off my long black, and curly locks. Oh well, some sacrifices need to be made I think as my mangled and bloody wrists come back into view. Now time to get out of this truck and finish this thing. I can't tell if there's a passenger with the driver, but I know as soon as I shoot the door on its lock, they will stop. Will others be traveling in different vehicles nearby? I wonder how many there are following.

Too bad. I can't just sit here and be taken wherever. I must take action. KAPOW. KAPOW. Time to see the moonlight. 

No one comes at first and I hear another KAPOW. I slide up the side of the box truck slowly and caution myself to be patient. I don't know if my partners found me and made that shot or if it's something else entirely. 

I see the driver slumped and no sign of a passenger. I go to open the door to dump him out and get in when Yusuf comes from behind and grabs me by the waist. 

"You like how I left your backpack. I knew you'd have a gun"

"What the hell, get off me!" I screech as I'm all arms and elbows. 

He manipulates my body as he has my mind and grapples me to the floor in an instant. 

"Don't worry, we've thwarted Ayesha's crew. That was all for show," his words ring in my unbelieving ears. 

He goes on to explain that the was my father's first wife's child and that he followed his every action. When he learned about me, he learned to force his prefrontal cortex online with growth hormones and a diet high in turmeric and greens, as well as a special method called patience. He literally waited out his emotions and then chose how to respond. He didn't want to let me do this alone. I do still have a chance at having a family. We do still have a chance at freeing awareness and knowledge for all. 

We join my partners right on time at our set location. Our plan goes off without a hitch. Come to find out, a diet high in salmon, turmeric, and yogurt along with potent chemicals called corticostressors that Pathostanians had inhaled for fear conditioning went too far. Their desire to stave off deep threats had activated brain pathways in the hypothalamus and brainstem that couldn't be turned off. What's worse is their effect on attention, working memory, and impulsive, sensory-seeking drives. Their noradrenaline and dopamine release then hyperactivated for 82 years leading to prefrontal cortex suppression. The amygdala was disinhibited and its functions strengthened, resulting in a vicious cycle passed down from generation to generation. 

My brother and I worked together and broke the curse. A cycle of ignorance shattered. Logic, credibility, and emotions are in balance again. Decisions are no longer solely devoid of logic. Thank you, Berhane and Elaf. 

November 19, 2022 02:48

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Azia Bradshaw
23:28 Nov 23, 2022

I like the fact that Pathostan's emotional responses are rooted in science. Illogical responses dictate the country, but their roots have a firm reason. The idea that diplomatic relations can be called off because "this place gives me the heebie-jeebies" is fascinating because I can almost imagine someone doing that nowadays. Elaine's brother helping her is a nice touch too. It's an emotional response but one guided by intelligence.


19:28 Nov 24, 2022

Azia, I am grateful for your analysis. Very true, when I was writing I was thinking about how it almost sounds like something that could happen nowadays and wanted that to be a part of it's essence. I'm glad that came through. I wasn't sure about whether I wanted her brother to help or hurt at first, but I liked the idea of family coming together even with decision making differences.


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Lonnie Larson
00:57 Nov 24, 2022

The pace of the story is fast. The escape ending took me back. Didn't see it coming. Nice to know that her parents didn't die in vain as well. It's a good read. Keep it up.


19:25 Nov 24, 2022

Thank you, Lonnie. I appreciate your comment. I was hoping the escape ending would be unexpected. I really thought about whether or not to have her parents have died in vain or not, but I just couldn't do it.


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