Where the Wind Blows: Part III

This is the third and final part of the short story “Where the Wind Blows.”

 

Where the Wind Blows: Part III

 

Isea flew down the stairs and ran into the kitchen, and there Todd was, sitting in the sink, with his gangly legs hanging over the cabinets. For the first time she noticed his silver boots which curled at the ends. He smiled impishly and explained, “I am a wizard, you know.”

“I know,” Isea said with mock flattery, “that is how you are able to transport yourself anywhere. It’s obvious that you have magic.” Isea grinned.

“You have decided to believe me!” Todd exclaimed. Isea watched him delightedly float up out of the sink, until his head bounced against the ceiling.

“Yes,” Isea beamed, laughing.

“Belief comes from within,” Todd said, his eyes glimmering. “Always remember that.”

Isea could feel herself becoming lost in wonder. Finally, she murmured, “Todd, what do wizards like to do?”

Todd thought. “Well, this,” he said, at length, his head bouncing against the ceiling. “We like to try to say wise things. And—!” he added, descending until he was standing in the sink, “since I am the only wizard alive in this world, because the rest are all unreal, I can do this!” He held out his arms towards her and jerked them up, and made his fingers twitch at the ends.

Isea thought that she was falling when the kitchen floor abruptly jumped down below her feet.

“Isea, it’s all right!” said Todd’s urgent faint voice. “Stop screaming, please!”

Isea closed her mouth. Somehow she turned herself upside-down, and landed crouched on the ceiling. “That was scary,” she mumbled. It was peculiar to see Todd’s head upside-down, and level with hers.

Todd said dismissively, “You’re just not used to it yet.” He twisted himself until his feet were on the ceiling, and announced, “Wizards enjoy walking on the ceiling.” Todd began to trot merrily off to the hall. Then he glanced back at Isea, and stopped. “Well? What are you waiting for?”

“I am waiting…” Isea trailed off.

Todd finished her sentence briskly: “to move. Yes, I know. But you cannot expect to move if fear is what is holding you. I promise that you will not fall.”

Isea slowly and carefully stood. The look in Todd’s eyes was knowing and bright. He believed in her, and this knowledge filled her with confidence. She stepped.

“There, you see,” Todd said as Isea walked grandly by him, “you should walk on the ceiling more often. You have great skill.”

Isea looked back at him, and fell into the chandelier, which swayed and rattled terribly.

Isea remembered everything that she and Todd had done that day. After they had walked on the ceiling through the entire house, she told Todd that she liked to walk on the ceiling very much, but she also liked to draw. She spent the rest of that afternoon carefully sketching his face, focusing especially on the stars in his eyes. Todd was very pleased with the result. He was convinced that she had performed a hidden magic skill, and tried to speak to the image of himself. Isea laughed when the image did not move to make any reaction, but Todd claimed to hear his voice. Isea forgot what loneliness felt like. She and Todd watched the sun set over the sea’s edge, and made up poems about the chirping bats that flitted across the pale twilit sky. Finally it was time for Todd to leave. Somehow, Isea knew that he was not really going anywhere. Todd made the ironing board appear wedged in the sand below where they sat on the hill. He waded out with it against the waves, jumped on, and paddled away with his hands. He was evidently still laughing about something. ‘Perhaps it was when Sooty sat on his head,’ Isea had mused.

Isea had sighed, stood up, and waved. Todd  had waved back until his ironing board was lifted by a wave, and slid down the back of it. He had gradually faded into the greyness of the tossing ocean.

Isea was curled up on her windowsill, slightly chilled by the night air as she watched the glowing moon. She thought about what Todd had asked her to do. As they had sat together on the hill, watching the sea, Todd had said, “Will you please come with me to the world where I come from?” Isea had turned to him, and was startled to see him turned towards her.

A few moments passed, before Isea said, “Where do you come from?”

Todd had looked away. “A land where dreams are free,” he had replied. “It’s just that I am afraid that eventually—” Todd had looked back at Isea, seeming to want her to just know what he was not saying.

“What?” Isea had said bewilderedly.

Todd had gone on gravely, “Your world is very unhappy. People are too serious to dream, with their aim to acquire the thing called money. Eventually, I will fade, and you will become one of them. Just another one of them. This will happen, because they are bossy, and they unfairly boast of their reality. There’s more to life. There’s more than this,” he had whispered.

Isea had asked, watching his self-assured face sceptically, “How will we get there?”

“We will fly.” He made his smile grow reassuringly. Isea had not felt very reassured. She remembered falling to the ceiling that morning.

“I don’t know what to do,” Isea sobbed, gazing at the moon. She sighed in a warm huff. Of course it was not going to answer her: it was just the moon. The stars twinkled unresponsively. Isea imagined Todd’s eyes twinkling unresponsively. His plan would not work in the real world. For it to work, she would have to forget the real world—forget everything that she knew. If she remembered that they were defying gravity for an instance, she would plummet, ceasing to believe that Todd could keep her in flight. There was a helpless feeling inside of her, as if she were all ready falling. As if the ground were rising toward her, to crush her. Isea went to bed and had a very confused dream in which the world fell away. She drifted in outer-space, until she was pulled to sink below the obstinate surface of a black hole.

The next day’s sky was cast with whitish grey clouds. Isea walked down the hill, feeling fragile and light. She felt, that even though it was an impossible thing to hope to fly, she had hope, nonetheless. Todd had said, “Meet me at the edge of the field.” Isea had to go a slightly different way than she normally went to get to anywhere. There was a sort of tunnel of tangled overgrown things, which hung down and tickled her. She heard the sweet and wistful “Twe-twoo”s of the birds, and saw their faint shapes dart under the leaves. The way ahead was shadowy and foggy. But she reached the end, and crawled through the small space where the underbrush parted into the field, and there was Todd, standing with his back to her. Isea went around and looked at his face. His eyes were twinkling the most that she had ever seen them before, and he was looking intently at the sky. He looked down at her, and she noticed his smile was nearly a hard line.

Isea said, with unexpected emotion, “Here I am.” Her voice was strong with the meaning that she put into those words.

“Are you ready?” Todd asked.

Isea sucked in her breath, and held it for a moment. “Yes,” she breathed out. “If I ever shall be.”

Todd offered his arm to her. She took it, and Todd said, “Wait until I say that it is time. Then start moving your legs. Try as hard as you can to run. I can pull you, but you’ve got to try.”

Isea nodded determinedly, as she tried to ignore the falling feeling inside which was nearly crushed. She looked ahead at the pale dead corn stumps which ran along the field to the horizon.

Todd inhaled, looking at the field as well. “Now,” came his voice like thunder.

Isea found her legs moving. But not nearly fast enough to keep up with him. “Keep going!” he shouted eagerly. “I’m working up The Wind!”

All that Isea could think was, ‘I’ve got to try, for his sake,’ as she was pulled. Todd left the ground first, his feet hitting air. Isea felt herself thrusted up. “Oh! Todd!” she cried with terror.

Time seemed to slow, as Isea was pulled higher. Isea felt the wind blowing against her. She acknowledged that she was flying, however awkward that it was. And, for a moment, she was alone with Todd in the air. Slowly, they went, in long strides. Isea looked at the glowing clouds, which were growing nearer. Words came out of her, and she whispered them in Todd’s ear: “I think it’s dark, and it looks like rain,” she said, “and the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the world.” Then Isea smiled for a second, and felt herself dragged down, her hand slipping down Todd’s arm, her fingers curling around his. Todd looked down at her with anxious dilated pupils. “I won’t let go!” he shouted above the hissing breathing of the wind. Isea knew that he wouldn’t.

Isea uncurled her fingers. She fell back, or perhaps Todd went on without her. “Isea no!” Todd howled. Isea watched as the field rose to meet her. She had thought that if she let go sooner, she might not fall from very great a height. But it was too late. Her tears were sucked away from her eyes. ‘This was always the way that it was meant to be,’ was all that she thought, with a calmness that soon made her cease to believe that she was falling. She studied the way that the fields fit together like a puzzle for a while. Then she shut her eyes, and felt herself slow. With Todd’s gift of dreams, she imagined, willing herself somewhere else—

Isea awoke lying on something which rather poked her in the back. Isea groaned and sat up, putting her hand on the hard end of a corn stump. She wondered where on Earth she was. She looked about her, and saw people looking down at her. Their faces were peculiar: lines kept creeping across them as wrinkles, and then smoothing and going away again, as if their skin was clay.

“Did you hurt yourself, dear?” asked a woman kindly. She was in a wheelchair. Her hair was golden and it gleamed in the morning light.

Isea stared, muttering, “I don’t know. I really haven’t a clue…” Isea rubbed her eyes and wished that these strange people would disappear when she opened them again. But they were still there, watching her. Isea shivered and wondered why she felt rather like crying. Isea got up clumsily, falling over in the middle of the attempt. She felt weak and as if she did not belong in the middle of a field, surrounded by strange people.

Isea did not know why, but she shrieked “I’m cold!” at them.

One girl with deep green eyes said, “I know,” and came over and wrapped her arms around Isea. “I wish that you would tell us what happened to you. You seem shell-shocked.”

“I think that I might be dead,” Isea whispered.

“I do not believe that you are,” said the woman with gold hair, kindly. She smiled. “Sometimes, everyone has a bad day. Then, they wake up the next morning, lying in the middle of a field, with no memory of what the bad thing was!” She laughed softly in short breaths.

Isea nearly smiled as well. “What is your name?” she said.

“Gwendoline.” Gwendoline’s eyes flashed. Isea noticed that she was not looking at anything at all.

“You’re blind?” Isea murmured.

“Yes,” Gwendoline admitted, “but any fool can see the love inside of others.” Gwendoline glowed, and a halo of sunlight appeared around her head. The changing faces hardened firmly as young. “Now please let us be your friends.”

As her new young strange friends led her to her house on a hill by the sea, Isea could not help but look at the sky. She thought, for a second, that a shadow darted between the space of blue where the clouds parted. ‘Just a bird,’ she decided, and turned to begin to walk up the hill.

 

*

 

Todd did not ignore the great sadness that he felt. He hovered down dejectedly to perch in a tree at the edge of the field to watch as Isea imagined the old people around her as young. ‘At least now she will have real friends,’ he consoled himself ineffectively. He remembered Isea glowing with laughter when she told him that she believed him. He wondered how he even existed after she ceased believing that he was real. ‘Well,’ he reasoned, ‘there must be a small piece hidden deep inside, where she remembers me.’ Todd smiled with relief, knowing that he would always be with her. He darted up into the sky, spread his arms, and whispered, “I will see you in dreams; for what life joins, no more let death divide.”

 

*

 

Isea had a dream that a weird boy was holding her hand. She was running with him so quickly that they were nearly floating. The sky glowed blue and purple. Rain glimmered off of the dark stone path which reflected the sky. Their feet sent up small splatters of water, which sparkled in the light. Isea turned to look at him, and he turned to look at her. Many different shades of yellow and green—those found in a forest on a sun-lit day—revolved around his head as he turned, making the world seem to turn with him. “Who—?” Isea began. But the boy put a finger to his lips, and impishly smiled.

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