The Girl in the Wind

March 3, 2012
Her village woke at dawn, but for her the days began much earlier. Each night, when the moon still shone cold and bright in the sky, she would rise and sit by the river that ran near her village. She would sit on its rocky bank and watch the silver moonbeams dance on the dark, swiftly flowing water. She would watch and she would listen. She was drawn to this place, the girl who was to become the wind, for she was certain that she could hear whispers from the water, the trees, the earth itself. Most would never have heard these whispers, they were so soft, so hard to pick out of the other night sounds. But not her, not Wind, she heard them.

One night she sat listening to these whispers, as she did every night, while the river turned her toes numb from its cold. “You are not like them,” the voices were so soft, she wondered if she was just imagining them, “You are one of us. Come sister, come be free with us as you are destined to be.” The voices fell silent. Wind sighed, for she had heard this whispered message many times. She knew she wasn’t like the others of her village. What she didn’t know was who she was like. No one, she supposed.

Not that she cared. She had stopped doing that a while ago. She had also stopped wishing that she was like her people. Once she realized that no one wanted her, she had planned to leave and make everything easier. She probably would have too, if not for one thing… her little sister, a girl with hair the color of smooth, sweet honey, and a personality to match it. Her eyes were huge and clear blue like the water that ran over Wind’s feet now. When she smiled it seemed that the sun shone brighter, that the trees stood taller, that the birds sang louder. Breeze was her name. That little girl was the one reason that Wind remained in the village.

She sighed again before pushing herself up and heading away from the river, her toes still tingling with cold. Pink streaks of dawn light had shot up across the sky behind her while she had been sitting, and the village had begun to stir. For other kids her age this might have meant that it was time to run and play, but for her it just meant that another day of torture was beginning. You see, even in the ancient time, people didn’t like things that were different. Things like her. They hoped that she would leave; they tried to make her miserable so she would. They gave her the hardest chores, and made her do them alone, they gave her only the smallest amounts of food, and the coldest place to sleep, only just inside the village.

She probably would have starved or frozen, if not for her sister. She would share her food and her blankets with Wind and, when no one was looking, she would slip off and help with Wind’s chores.

Naturally, when her people would torment her she would torment them right back. Of course, she could not hurt them in the ways that they hurt her, but wind was a clever girl, and pain comes in many forms. Her people loved secrets. Everyone had them, and tried to keep them. So Wind would find the deepest darkest secrets of her village and spread them. If they weren’t to her liking she would lie to make them more interesting. And while people didn’t like Wind, they listened to her.

That day, as she walked back to her village, she saw a strange person come up along the path. Frowning, she hurried to catch up with him. He stopped to wait as he saw her approaching. “Who are you?” she asked. In this ancient time people were few and far between, and travelers as rare as purple rubies.

“My name is Areli, I am a traveler,” the man had a deep, powerful voice. It was like the world stood at attention when he spoke. The name Areli sent shivers down Wind’s spine, she felt as if she had heard it somewhere before. “Where is your village?” the stranger asked. Had it been anyone else from the village they would have pointed east, to the rising sun, and said, “Not too far down that path.” But it was Wind, and years of secrets and lies made her respond instinctively. The idea of telling him the truth never even crossed her mind.

“There is a path by those brambles at the edge of the woods,” she said, pointing to the patch of thorny vines. What really lay there was far from a path to her village. For tucked away, just behind those brambles, was a nest of vipers. This strange man, wholeheartedly trusting Wind, walked over to the brambles and began searching for a path. It only took an instant for the first viper to strike, and suddenly the ground was alive with the squirming creatures. Any normal human would have died after the third or fourth bite, but as the snakes viciously attacked him, all Areli did was turn his strangely silver gaze on Wind. A cold sinking feeling churned Wind’s stomach. She had remembered why the name Areli had seemed so familiar.

She knew the myths of her village, who didn’t? The myths about Gods creating the earth, and about Mother Nature harnessing the elements. And the myths about Areli. Areli, the man with the silver eyes. Areli, the curse giver. She stared at him in horror. He raised a hand in front of him and closed his eyes. A word formed on his lips. Wind turned to run an instant before the curse hit her, knocking her flat on her face. She screamed at the red-hot pain that engulfed her. Fire. It felt like fire. She felt like fire. It was sweeping through her, igniting her whole body in a horrible mass of pain and screams. She lay, curled on the ground waiting for it to pass. Occasional whimpers leaked from her mouth as she cried silent tears. She wondered if that was her curse, unbearable pain for the rest of eternity. It was many hours before the pain eased, but it eventually died out.

Areli was gone, leaving no trace of his being. Wind wondered why he had been there. She pushed herself up into a sitting position, and was barely able to catch the scream before it erupted from her lips. Her long hair, usually as dark as a raven’s wing, was a light silver color. Had Areli aged her? No, aged hair did not shimmer the way hers did. She raised a hand to stroke it, and this time was unable to retain her shriek. She could see through her hand! It was shimmering like her hair, and wavering in the twilight air. Was she a ghost? It seemed likely enough. She hurried back to her village, not wanting anything else to happen. She would go to the healer…he would help her.

She got to her village, and tried to talk to the healer, but he ignored her. In fact, he just acted as if she wasn’t there. She left his hut and tried to speak to others. No one listened. No one was able to. She began putting pieces of her situation together. She could only whisper. No one could see, hear, or feel her. Unless she got to close to them, then they would shiver and say, “did you feel that? The air just moved! Did you hear that? I thought I heard a whisper.” She experimented with that. She could whisper words, and blow them in any direction she wanted. The harder she blew, the louder they would be and the farther they would go. She found that she could whisper secrets to the trees and that they would pass her words between their branches. Literally the wind in the trees.

Weeks passed and Wind’s feet slowly began disappearing until from her mid-calves down there was nothing. She would float and drift here and there, trying to make people hear her whispered words. She used her new powers to continue finding secrets, and spreading them. Life in the village continued as usual, with only Breeze caring that Wind was gone.

With nothing to do Wind would follow Breeze around as she did her chores, and whisper in her sister’s listening ear. Breeze was one of the few who could hear Wind. The two would whisper for hours, though to the rest of the village it just seemed that sweet little Breeze had lost her mind and was whispering to herself.

One evening, as twilight settled on the land, Wind made her way to the river. She spent a lot of time there now. As she approached the bank she saw that another girl already sat there, dipping her feet in the water. Perhaps it was Breeze, waiting for her. The last rays of evening sunlight were shining in her eyes, so she couldn’t tell.

She reached the bank and sat down beside the girl. “Hello, Wind,” it wasn’t Breeze. “I have waited a long time to meet you.” Something about her voice was hauntingly familiar, though. Wind turned to look at the girl, and her breath caught in her throat. The girl shimmered in the same glowing way that Wind did.

“Who are you?” Wind’s voice was shaking.

The girl turned her beautiful blue eyes on Wind and gave a sad smile. “Oh, Wind! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten me already! It was only yesterday when we last spoke!” Wind thought back to yesterday, confused. The only person wind had spoken to was Breeze…Except… she gasped. The girl smiled. “That’s right, I am the whispers you hear as you sit here at dawn. I am River.”

River. The girl who whispered to Wind each night that she was destined to be free. River spoke again, “Yes Wind, you have finally become what you are destined to be… one of us.” She continued when she saw Wind’s confused look. “Us, nature. Moonlight and Trees and Mother Earth herself.” Wind nodded. “But even freedom has it’s price,” River whispered. “Each of us has a job. I give life; the trees make the world beautiful… and it is time for you to take on your job.”

Wind finally spoke, “and what might that job be?”

River hesitated before replying. “To fight Rain.”

Wind felt as if she had been thrust under water. To fight Rain! She couldn’t! Rain was a terrifying beast that tortured all humans. He lived in the sky, and poured water down upon the world. He caused things to be swept away by his giant floods, and the very earth to move in his tremendous landslides. No one was safe, and many people died each year when he came. He began in mid autumn, and continued until spring, but each year he was coming sooner, and leaving later. Wind understood why someone had to fight him, but why her? Was it because no one else could? Wouldn’t a job that important already belong to someone else? Or was it because the last person who had tried it wasn’t around to try again? She turned to ask River, but the girl was gone, leaving Wind to figure it out on her own. She resolved to try. This was her life now. It was the beginning of autumn, and it would only be a week or two until Rain arrived. Only a week or two until Wind had to fight him.

Rain ended up coming earlier than that. On the third day after Wind’s talk with River, he was there. Huge masses of angry black clouds filled the air, and water poured down in abundant amounts. River’s banks overflowed and her fast flowing water swept away anything in its path. Mud slid down the hills, taking huts and supplies, and sometimes people with it. As the rain poured down Wind took to the sky, using huge gusts of her powerful breath to lift herself. When Rain saw her, he let his most powerful storm loose and set forward to fight her. Rain battered her back and forth with his buckets of water, spraying upon her and making her cough and sputter as she tried to breathe, and Wind blew him in this direction and that with her mighty breaths, forcing him in all directions, slowing him as he tried to consume the sky with his darkness.

The fight was nearly even, though it seemed that Rain would eventually win due to his vast size.
He was as big as the entire sky, and as powerful as Wind was, her blowing could not reach that far. No one will ever know if he would have won though, because right then Wind pulled out her secret weapon, given to her by Sunlight only a day before. Lighting. She threw the crackling bolt at the heart of Rain’s storm and it struck him with a tremendous crack, lighting up the dark sky. The air was charged with crackling electricity and the sky was alive and with power from the bolt. He let out a thundering bellow of pain that shook the world. The people below called the sound thunder for the enormous, booming, crashing noise it made. Again and again Wind struck Rain, battering him from all sides with her great gusts and her lighting. Again and again Rain bellowed and cried, his water spraying this way and that. Finally, after a countless number of hits, Rain receded, unable to fight any more. The water stopped pounding on the ground below, and the sky slowly cleared to blue again. Rain was not defeated, but he knew that this particular battle was lost.

The fight between Rain and Wind still rages today, sometimes for weeks on end. Neither have ever won or lost the entire war that ensues between then, but both have had their victories and their defeats. Wind saves her lightning bolts for only the biggest storms, and uses her own powers on the others.

That is the story of the girl who became the wind. Her sister, Breeze, eventually joined her as one of nature, becoming the soft rush of air that we all love. When Wind is not fighting Rain, though she often is, she is passing on her story, this story, to any who will listen. She tells of the sweet spirit, River, and of the dangerous Areli, and of the great beast Rain.

Few can hear her words, but they are there for those who will listen. Perhaps when the wind blows around you it is her, whispering in your ear. The question is can you hear her? Can you hear the girl in the wind?

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