I know what it takes to make a storm. I know the exact chemistry of a hurricane, a misty day, a blizzard so cold my fingers are at risk just because I lost another pair of gloves. I know all of these things. But I know the most about wind. Wind is the force behind all that other stuff. It’s the transportation. It’s invisible but it matters more than anything else, and I’m not just saying that because it belongs to me.
It does, though. I’m a Zephyr. A wind Elemental. It’s all mine, my mom gave it to me, and my grandma to her. It’s the way of things. We each have our own piece of what makes Earth function the right way, from animals to the tides. Mine’s the best, though. It’s all frenzy and the freedom of currents. I can feel it from the chambers of my crimson heart to the tips of my pale fingers. It reaches for me like a fast moving net, always looking for clouds to chase and pull.
Storms need clouds. Clouds need wind.
I’ve been waiting on storms. I can pull clouds like nobody’s business but they don’t mean anything when they’re just cotton balls floating around in space. I need a Tempest. Someone to pull rain. No Tempest, no storms. I’ve been waiting.
“Ever?” Cameron’s voice has that you’re-on-assignment tone he reserves when he knows something we don’t. He’s two years younger than my nineteen years but he’s a do-gooder and the boss likes him best. He’s a flora, a flower boy. I try not to hold that against him, he’s a good guy even if his Element is lame.
“Over here,” I call from the depths of my bed. He rounds the corner and I ask, “Where to?” I’m going on assignment. A Tempest from another region needs help with an incoming storm. I was just waiting for orders.
“Chicago,” he says. The pack of papers he hands to me are crisp and still hot from the printer. “Dress warm.”
“You’re kidding. The Windy City? You can’t make this stuff up.” My bag’s already packed, but I need shoes. Boots, for sure.
He laughs. “No, we couldn’t. You need a ride to the airport?”
“Definitely.” I lace up my boots and tie my mass of hair back into a hasty bun, and follow him out the door.
The freezing Chicago wind bites at my cheeks, stinging hard. The wind is everything and everywhere and it’s all I can do to focus on their Tempest’s voice yelling above the gale. Norah’s a tiny thing, like a little blonde pixie down to her icy blue eyes, cute as hell but strong as anything if she’s kept this blizzard down without anyone to stop this windwar.
“You can see why we needed your help.” There’s laughter in her voice but desperation in the set of her mouth. Her eyes are tired and her shoulders are taught with exhaustion.
“Definitely. How long have you been fighting this?”
“A week,” she says. “I thought I could keep it under control.”
The fighting air pulls my hair from it’s tie and it whips my face, adding to the sting of flying snow. “Christ, you did a good job.” I like the way her mouth curves at the compliment.
“They said you’re the best,” she says. Her eyes flick from my own down to my lips and back up again.
I turn from her and into the storm, “We’ll see, I guess.”
I drop myself to the frozen ground to take stock of this monster of a storm. It’s huge and it’s got a good uppercut and no wonder she couldn’t handle it by herself. The wind is unrelenting, stymied by a front from the north.
It’s my kind of weather. It’s heavy with potential for disaster if left to it’s own devices.
“It’s bad,” I tell her.
“We can fix it.” I like the inclusion. I’m not used to it.
We get to work. My palms itch as I open myself to the storm. With eyes closed and palms facing upward the mass of power lurking in this beast of wind and snow is entirely clear to me. It sparks white in my Zephyr peripherals so that I don’t miss a charge. It freezes my veins instantly and pushes me back a yard with its strength, but I step into it. Norah is a force next to me, pinning down clouds and wiping them away, her blue guidelights blink and go out with each cut she makes to the blizzard.
I’m redirecting the wind that brings it closer and stronger every second. I push the currents into themselves so they twist once and die. There’s one bit that’s determined to bring the beast to Chicago’s doorstep, a gargantuan air current that I can’t push off. I try, and it pushes back. I try again, twist my hands onto fists, throwing a white net of light out into the abyss to dampen the current. It stretches, holds for a second, and snaps into nothing, blasting me with a wall of resistance. I stagger back, gasping with the force of it.
“Easy.” Norah’s hands push against my shoulder, steady me.
“Thanks,” I say. I roll my shoulders and step back into the storm. The wind screams down into the city, and if I can’t kill it I’ll have to steal it. Stealing is dangerous in Elemental world because bringing part of a storm into yourself can be massively bad. Or badass, if you’re successful.
“I’m gonna have to steal it,” I tell her.
I can almost hear her eyes get wide. “Don’t,” she says. She’s still blasting down clouds of snow like the energizer bunny but she’s not making a dent, and she won’t unless I knock out the wind.
“It’s all there is,” I say.
Her shoulders square to face me, and there’s resolve written all over her. She knows I’m right. I ground myself with a deep breath as she says, “Tell me how to help.”
“Get the clouds out of the way if you can, they’ll just make it heavier.”
“Okay.” She shuts her eyes and goes to work.
I shut mine too and the white and blue lights are everywhere. Norah’s snuffing out clouds faster than the wind can push them to us, and I open my palms to the gale, directing it home. I spin it, bundling it as small as possible, but for this storm small is a freight train.
Two miles, one, half a mile, 100 feet, and it hits me like a landslide. Like jumping into a frozen lake from fifty feet up, it’s a cold brick wall that gives into an enveloping mass of cold. It fills my lungs, freezes my blood, my eyes water, the stinging tears freezing on my cheeks in tracks. My body shakes with force and cold. I hit my knees and catch myself with my hands. My heart pounds and I remember what I am. The wind is mine. It belongs to me. My jaw sets and I tear the screaming force from my veins and my chest and my brain, crushing it to a ball of sparkling white until the heat in my ribcage melts it to nothing but a tide of silver running through my bloodstream.
Everything is still.
I open my eyes and Norah is kneeling next to me. Her eyes gleam navy with effort and her hands shake. “Whoa,” she says, breathless.
“Yeah.” My voice is thin and my heart crashes. The air is calm, the clouds light. Snowflakes fall gently to the ground, barely sticking.
“It’s gone,” I say. “It worked.”
“You did it,” she says. “Christ.” And her hands are on my shoulders and her eyes are locked into mine. I realize this is what it’s like, to Element with another. I wonder for a second if her lips taste like snow but my phone is ringing and she’s letting go.
“Ever.” Cameron’s voice sounds a million miles away and my heart still pounds out the weight of all the wind.
“We found your Tempest.”
For more poems by Anna Akhmatova, please read her collections online or at your local library. Poem © Copyright, Anna Akhmatova 1985. English translation by D. M. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Stay tuned for extra content this week from Julie. Return next Monday for Anne’s answer to this prompt.