Earth’s Wrath: The Stillness of Air

It wasn’t meant to happen. This wasn’t meant to happen. I never meant for it to happen. I did everything I was told and I did it perfectly; there was simply no room for errors.

The temple of Aera was set on the edge of a cliff, its long pillars chapped from centuries of harsh weather conditions. The old tales referred to this temple as the birthplace of storms and of hurricanes. I knew what to expect but calling the place ‘windy’ would certainly be the understatement of the year. The wind shouted warnings that my partner and I continued to ignore; warnings that were simply overlooked knowing what treasure lies within.

Inside the temple, the wind sang its history. Its lyrics were of monks who had long ago turned into dust and of hunters whose dead bodies remained a mystery. In a line or two, the wind whispered locations of hidden rooms and trap doors but only those who have been trained knew how to listen and interpret. I was one of the chosen.

“Slowly…slowly…,” my partner murmured.

“I know what I’m doing,” I snapped. My palms sweat even though the air was cool. I took a breath or two to calm my racing heart. I was hyperaware of the treasure that was laid before me and of its replica in my hand. All I had to do was quickly replace the opaque Aera orb with the fake, taking the genuine one with me and scram. And I did. My partner and I got out of the temple safely, a little out of breath, but safe. I remembered looking into each other’s eyes, our success shining in our faces. Then it happened.

It started when one of the temple’s pillars cracked; a deafening sound of stone against stone. The wind blew harder—we had to fall on our knees just to stay on the ground—and after a moment, it suddenly stopped. I looked up and saw that every natural movement—the swaying of trees, the sound of the wind, the crumbling temple—stopped. Then my partner made a choking sound.

He was clutching his neck; his eyes bulged, his face growing purple with his mouth opened as he made gasping sounds. I reached his side and tried to pull his hands away and demanded what was wrong.

“I can’t…breathe…”

“What?” I was dumbfounded. I didn’t understand what was happening till the first bird dived to the ground. I tilted my head and saw that the sky shed birds as tears, all of them plummeting to the ground, some instantly died while some in the same state of my partner then went limp.

My partner grabbed my arm with fading strength, his face pleading for me to do something.

“Help…me…”

But I couldn’t. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what to do. My naivety had caused this catastrophe and as I watched my partner sigh his last breath, I became aware of a faint glow tucked in my coat. The treasure—the orb—was glowing and it was this, I realized, that triggered everything. I looked back to the temple only to find its remaining half, the other half now fell to the sea beyond. There was no hope.

Unintentionally, I dropped the orb to the ground. The instant I lost contact with the orb, my breathing was cut off, as if I’ve swallowed a cork to my esophagus. No, I thought, clutching my throat. Panic engulfed me as I frantically searched for the orb. The moment I touched it, air came rushing back to my lungs and it took every inch of me to stay conscious even as I heaved like a fish out of water.

What have I done?

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The Perfect Crime

I’ve committed the perfect crime.
I sit here, in the room they think is fit for me — a bed with a single pillow and blanket, bare walls with only one window barred from the world. I wrap my puppet in a warm embrace, the last remaining reminder of my daughter’s existence to everyone who knew her. No, I am not in prison. My door is not locked though I am advised not to leave the facility for my safety. They think I’m crazy. I laugh at the most inappropriate times and talk to my puppet like she’s alive. No, I am not crazy. This, and everything that happened after her death and everything that will follow, is all part of my plan.
“How are you this evening, George?” Martha, one of the many nurses in this building, asks.
“I’m fine. Thank you for asking, Martha,” I answer with a smile.
“Good, good. Dinner is ready, you might want to head to the dining hall.” She pauses, eyeing my puppet then adds, “You know what? You can bring Alice with you tonight, so she won’t be lonely.”
“Papa,” echoes Alice’s tiny voice, “may I kill her?”
Martha shudders visibly while I laugh and say, “Silly thing, no. We like Martha.”
The puppet slumps into a saddened heap. Alice the puppet is not a beautiful puppet. It is not meant for children who wanted sleep and dreams. Why? Because the puppet is the picture of my daughter’s last moments, injuries and all.
“Ex-excellent performance, George. Well then.” Martha escapes with hurried steps.

The kitchen staff provides nutritious food for us deranged people five times a day though the food’s nutrition factor seems to contradict its taste. I don’t complain.
I eat in silence, occasionally offering some to my puppet Alice, which often gives others the excuse to laugh or throw confused looks at me. Some just ignores me, content in their own misery and bliss like me.
“George?” Martha hesitantly asks. “Dr. Martin wants to speak with you. I believe it’s important. Will you please come with me?”
“Of course,” I say. “May I bring Alice?”
“Su-sure, sure.”
She leads me to my personal psychiatrist. Dr. Martin is a formal gentleman who is too good at what he does. I do feel that sometimes Dr. Martin knows that I am not really crazy, that what I do is just my façade though if my hunch is true, it makes me question whether the true crazy is him and not me.
“Welcome, George,” says Dr. Martin. “How are you feeling?”
He always opens up our conversation with that question into which I answer, “Fine.”
He is uncharacteristically quiet this evening but I do nothing to break the silence.
“I am so very sorry to be the bearer of bad news but,” he hesitates, then adds in a morose voice, “your wife has died.”
A shrill laughter erupts from Alice’s open mouth, making Dr. Martin flinch.
I look Dr. Martin in the eye and say, “My wife has been dead to me since she twisted my Alice’s arm till it broke. She had me tied to a chair and made me watch as she carved my daughter like a fruit. Alice was a strong girl and I prayed and prayed that she were not. I shouted at the gods for my daughter to loose consciousness as that bitch dragged a knife across Alice’s pale stomach, spelling her own damned name.” I am breathing heavily now, clutching my puppet tight to my chest as the scenes of my daughter’s death flashes again and again on my mind. “I stopped feeling when the bitch went for my Alice’s eye.”
Dr. Martin grasps my hands in his tightly and looks into my wild eyes with sorrow and pity. “I understand,” he says. “You are safe here, George. Beyond safe. I just want you to know that I am here for you should you feel the need to share what you are feeling now.”
“I feel like it’s a dream come true,” I whisper.
“Alright. Why don’t you get some sleep first, Martha will take you back in your room, and we’ll talk again tomorrow.”
I nod and let Martha guide me.
I sit in my bed and lift my puppet to look at it straight in the eyes.
“Thank you, Alice.” Because of it, somewhere in a mound of earth, lies the bitch that killed Alice, buried deep into the ground. Because of my puppet, I will sleep without anyone suspecting me of murder.
The puppet’s arms move and envelop me in an embrace.
“I love you, Papa.”

Negation 

Tell me you’re not in love with her,
When you suppressed that smile upon a mention of her name
The way you look at her when you think no one else is looking
The way she makes you laugh like nobody else.

Tell me you’re not in love with her,
When you hold her stare like it’s a tiny fragile thing
The way you tease her and satisfy yourself with her gentle beating
The way you touched her—careful, longing and afraid.

Tell me you’re not in love with her,
When you try so hard to tell her more but ended up saying less
The way you talked about her and being unable to stop grinning
The way you care for her without realizing it.

How dare you tell her you’re not in love with her,
When it is obvious that you are
The way the look of your eyes changed when she believed you
The way you deny it upon yourself is admitting it to be true.

Plaything

“What happened to your human, Princess?” asked a servant faerie to its mistress.
“I think it is broken,” replied the princess who prodded the curling figure beneath her feet. “I do not understand. I feed it enough summer fruit and spring water to make its sanity last. I make it rest when it has to and perform only the simplest things within its capabilities. I do not let the hounds chase it nor expose it to other nobility for amusement. It is my plaything and now it would not move.”
“Should I get another one, Princess?” offered the servant.
“No. My prince brother gave it to me and I treasure it,” declared the princess, “I will find a way to fix it.”
The servant moved towards the figure and observed, “It cries.”
“At first it does not. It laughs and sings and dances but now all I hear is a faint whisper of a name on its lips,” said the princess.
“Perhaps we should return it to their world if only for a moment. You know what happens to humans who stay long in our realm,” reminded the servant.
“I do. They lose their value and become mere decorations on my mother’s ice garden,” answered the princess.
“They lose a piece of their sanity the longer they remain here and time is insignificant in Faerie. It’s a shame for your plaything to end up this way for I have seen other humans ending in a more…absurd state. Quite entertaining, if you ask me.”
The princess glared, “You speak too forward, servant.”
The servant bowed, “Pardon me, Princess.”
A thinking look settled over the princess’s serene face. A moment after she ordered, “Prepare the carriage.” She crouched over her human, cupped its face with the both of her hands and whispered, “You will be fixed.”

They stood just outside the forest’s outline; the princess in her blue-green spider-silk dress that swayed at the slightest touch of wind, her servant at her side and her plaything on the other. The princess peeked at the human’s face and saw realization and reason and awareness slowly creep in.

“You know where we are, don’t you?” the princess asked.
The human was silent for a moment, then, “Home,” it said that sounded like a sigh and sob combined.

Beyond the forest lies a cottage owned by an old woman whose once beautiful face now marred with time’s passing. The old woman sat on her porch, hummed a lullaby and looked to where they stood in the forest’s shadows. She kept turning a golden ring on her finger that was identical to what the plaything always wore.

“Go,” the princess ordered.
With struggling movements, the human stumbled and turned to her and cupped her face with its hands which caused the servant to gasp. “Thank you,” it said with tears running down its face.
“You do not thank a fey, plaything, if you do not want to be indebted to one,” she said with a straight face.
“Even then, I am grateful to you for bringing me back.”
The princess slowly separated herself from the human’s touch. “You should not be. You needed to be fixed so here we are.” She tilted her head to the side and regarded the human’s expression, “Perhaps if I find myself in need of amusement, I will have someone to fetch you.”
She stepped back and melted into the shadows, her servant silently followed, “Until then, plaything.”

The two faeries watched him stumble towards the cottage, watched as the old woman rose from her seat and welcomed her lover; once lost and now returned.

“Do you think it wise to return the human to its lover?” asked the servant.
“I do. I treasure my plaything and it is the best that I could do,” said the princess proudly.

Together they slipped back into Faerie but not without a last glance and a smile on their lips.

Fox Rain

The sun shone high that day.
The thin blanket of clouds never stopped the sunlight from reaching the earth. Neither did it discourage the two girls from taking a stroll on their countryside farm. They both wore dresses that swayed with the rhythm of the wind. Both their eyes were in shades of brown; one light and the other dark. And just as they’d glimpse the farmer’s small hut, it begun to drizzle and quickly turned to rain.
“Oh damn it, I’m almost soaked,” said the one with dark eyes.
“We’ll have to wait here till the rain stops,” answered the other. “No umbrella.”
They both sat down, stared at nothing and at everything, never talking, and just listened.
“It’s a fox rain,” she proclaimed.
“Mm-hmm,” was her only answer.
“We should make a story out of it,” like they always do.
A brief pause and then—
“Rain fell in love with earth, and in return, earth loved the rain too,” her response quiet compared to the sound of rain. It was always her most relaxing moment, when the sky cries out its day’s worth of frustration, ready to start another bright day.
“Yes,” she answered with the same quiet voice. “But rain was not earth’s first love. It was the sun.”
“It was always them.” Her retort was laced with bitterness as it was with rain that her bets lie.
“Since the beginning of time, sun embraced earth with his warmth and earth welcomed it. Even with their distance, sun was able to make earth feel comfort and love,” she proudly stated.
“But their distance proved to be the cause of a great rift that rippled their love. There were times when sun has to leave earth, and earth would fall into darkness without sun’s light. And as sun’s love for earth grew, sun’s warmth also rose. The days in which sun would bathe earth with warmth, no longer will earth be comfortable. Earth would crack and break under the sun’s intensity so much so that earth now looked forward to darkness, when earth would begin to heal the day’s worth of pain.” She pouted at her continuation but preceded the story nonetheless.
“One night, rain saw earth and all of earth’s withered state and…,” she nudged for her to continue.
“And rain helped earth heal with rain’s gentle caress. Rain’s downpour filled earth’s cracks and watered the withered plants. Earth returned to becoming what once earth was, vibrant and blooming. Rain had taken a liking to earth and promised to come again and earth looked forward to the fulfillment of the promise.” Her voice filled with triumph at how the story was progressing but it appeared she would now lead the story to sun’s victory.
“When the sun returned, sun knew that something had changed. Earth had changed and not because of the sun. The sun grew suspicious and because sun wanted all of earth, sun once more increased the intensity of sun’s heat, erasing all the unknown traces that now covered earth’s surface. Earth cracked and split once more that earth let out a pained cry. Rain heard it and came to earth’s rescue. Now that the sun finally drew what has caused earth’s change out, the sun fought with rain for the earth’s attention and noble as rain was, rain fought back.” She giggled at what she added that left the other girl giggling too.
“Earth tried to stop the fight but at what the sun and rain was doing, it was actually to the earth’s advantage. Earth was filled with coolness that soothed which rivaled the warmth that liberated. So earth remained silent whiles the sun and rain caused fox rains. Fox rains that symbolize rivalry,” her expression thoughtful as the fox rain slowed to a drizzle.
“Fox rain that represents ignorance and detachment.”
“Fox rain that depicts love and care.”
“Fox rain that’s now…gone.” She jumped and ran outside the hut. “C’mon! We should hurry back home before it rains again.”
Her movement was as lazy as a sloth but still followed the girl with eyes that see beauty with hers that see ruin. But not this time. This time, both the girls saw beauty and ruin at the same moment. And as they walked down the path, with the wind teasing the hems of their slightly soaked dresses, the rain, sun and earth were clapping enthusiastically after the girls’ entertaining story.

Uncertain

My eyes fly open to the sound of my alarm clock playing Justin Beiber’s ‘Baby’.

Quick as lightning, my left hand shot across my bedside table and fumbled for the demonic thing playing the devil’s song, desperate to turn it off. There were a lot of things on the table besides the clock and combined with my still hazy vision, it took me 20 seconds to find the source of my frustration and with a satisfying soft click, it stopped. I rubbed my eyes and looked closely at the digital display of my clock. 6:00 am, S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y. How could I set my clock so early on a weekend?! I grunt and fall back on my own bed made of fluffy clouds.

“What…the…hell..?” asked a deep voice that wasn’t mine.

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