Rain. Everything was rain. Droplets streamed over my head, beading my hair, my arms, covering everything in a spray of diamond drips. Nothing could be as crystal clear, as perfect as the rain that fell that instant. Every diamond, no matter how expensive, no matter whose neck they are on or where they came from, is clouded and has a hint of murkiness. Not rain. Clear. Cold. Refreshing. Pure.
As I looked out across the bay, it seemed like a lifetime since the day the storm came. My storm. Like years had passed in the few days between that moment, standing on the balcony and the fateful night where my father had shattered my heart and my mother turned me away. The night that the storm inside had come out, raging in fury and whisking away everything I’d ever known. One day. One.
I guess that’s all it takes to change your life. One moment. One day. One desire. One storm. Since that night with my father, I’d discovered my powers, been whisked off to a desert, seemingly been deemed a goddess by two teenage girls, and went on a quest to seek out the “fourth element.”
Water churned below on the shore, ebbing and flowing in a constant rhythm as it pounded the sand. Crashing and splashing, waves crested out on the burning horizon, frothing white at their peaks like a rabid dog’s foaming maw. The sunrise was glorious as it reflected out onto the midnight blue ocean, fractals of fiery golden sunlight glinting off the water.
The pitter-pattering drip of rain and pound of the tide crawling up the sand and receding washed over my ears, and my mind drifted off into blankness. For the first time in weeks, my thoughts were still. There was no worries of what the kids would say at school, how drunk Dad would be, or what flaw my mom would criticize. There was nothing but the rain, the cool brush of mist on my arms and the sting of the wind’s kiss on my cheeks. Nothing. Just rain.
“Talia? You out there?” A silvery, melodic voice called from inside the hotel room, jolting me out of my meditative state. Flustered, my muscles tensed.
“Uh, yeah. Sorry, I- I got up early and-” I clenched my hands in frustration. Why couldn’t I talk today? Selene materialized at my side, and I flinched. She somehow managed to scare me everytime, seemingly to glide across the floor silently. With her pale, moondust skin white as death? It wasn’t hard to think you’d seen a ghost. Exasperated, I sighed.
“I’m sorry. What I was trying to say was I got up at dawn to watch the rain.” Selene nodded at this, and her waves of gold-flecked black hair bobbed around her shoulders, somehow falling perfectly back in place.
“Are you ready to find the fourth goddess? The earth drew us to here, to Positano, Italy. Right on the edge of the sea.” Her eyes sparkled, giving me a knowing glance. I grinned, looking out across the water. The journey from the desert had been tough, but the clues were all in place. Selene was right, it had been as if the whole world was pointing the way. The stars at night had aligned in a path, the wind blew along its course, even the rays of sun seemed to shine their beams towards Italy.
“You are Starlight, from rural Ohio. Embers, Kenna is from Manchester, Georgia. I’m Storm from London. I’d be willing to bet that this…” I paused, listening to the bells of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta chime in the distance.
“Goddess?” Selene offered. The word still sent pleasant waves of shock down my spine. I was a goddess! I had powers! Rich, daddy issues, only-good-for-her-money Talia. As though I deserved to be a hero, like life was finally rewarding me after years of drunken rage and scars. Fierce like lightning, banding together with goddesses, making… friends? The last time my parents saw me, I was crumpled on the floor, begging for mercy from the demons inside. From them. From the world. From myself.
I allowed a smile at how much I had grown in such a short time. Sure, I was still meeker than the other two girls by far. It wasn’t like I had changed over night, but my powers had given me a spark of hope in the dark night. A pinprick of light in the black, a small piece of tinder catching fire. Goddess. What a word.
“This goddess must be sea. Ocean. Water. Whatever.” I tried to imagine what she would be like. Beautiful, regal, queen-like like Selene? Brave, striking, fearless as Kenna? Or traumatized yet hopeful like me? No matter how many times I told myself, I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t like them, a born warrior or leader. I hadn’t thrown myself into battle like Kenna, been deemed worthy to be goddess of the moon and sky like Selene. I was just Talia Thorne, a girl who had let her anger take over. I was nothing, and yet, I had powers. An indescribable connection to the rain, lightning, wind. To the storm.
THUNK! A bashing thud and a shriek jolted me out of my musings. Thud. Thud. Thud. A single piercing cry. Scuffling noises, a muffled grunt and the sound of a heavy door slamming shut. Whipping around to seek answers in Selene, I was met with nothingness. Just an empty balcony and her strappy silver heels scattered on the wet floor where she had stood an instant before. No… no. She must have just had to ask Kenna something, or… or what. Dread and fear boiled in my stomach like hot motor oil searing my gut.
“Selene? Kenna?” My voice echoed in the empty hotel room as I stepped over Selene’s discarded shoes and pushed open the sliding french doors. Thud. Thud. Thud. The bed looked untouched and freshly made, the sheets a pristine white… with one drop of blood blossoming crimson like a rose on the wintry backdrop. No. This can’t be happening.
“Selene?” Silence. The only noise was the distant echo: thud. Thud. Thud. Like the heartbeat of a monster, the pounding footsteps of a killer. An overwhelming sense of dread rose up in my throat, choking me until I gasped for air. Panic flooded my senses, and a searing pain rushed through my veins, white hot, a million pinpricks jabbing my skin. Each step I took towards the door was a thousand years or a millisecond, the moments crawling along slowly then racing ahead until my vision was a dizzy blur.
As I neared the door, I saw another drop of blood. Another. Another. A trail of bright red blood spattered on the carpet, thicker with each new drop. Threads of Selene’s flowing silver dress dotted the floor, a strand of Kenna’s dark hair. My head throbbed as I looked at the wrecked hotel room. Thunk. Thunk. In the eerie silence, my footsteps rang out like gunshots, seeming deafeningly loud in comparison to the soft pound of waves outside.
Black burn marks dotted the walls, signs of Kenna putting up a fight. I wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t like her to go down quietly. Shards of carved silver punctured the walls, the pieces of Selene’s crowning wreath jutting out at strange angles.
Dread ran hot in my veins, sobs of panic and fear building in my throat, threatening to burst. Kidnapped. In seconds. One moment I was lost in thought, the next they were gone. The blood stains grew larger as I neared the door. Scarlet splotches dotted everything. The walls, the floors, even the ceiling. All of it.
Just as I was about to open the door, I saw it. A messy message splayed across the walls, spelled out in charred black burns. It said simply, “Find sea.”
The rest was a blur, rushing down the stairs, stumbling over steps. Blond wisps of hair flying around as I sprinted past the confused hotel worker. Rain speckled my loose cotton shirt as I flew down the streets, racing past colorful buildings and neon signs blazing in the dawn.
My mind churned as I pounded the cement. As much as I wanted to go search for Kenna and Selene, I knew what I had to do. I had to find her. Find Sea. Something evil and twisted was coming, and I had to act fast. As I sprinted down the slick streets of Positano, Italy, I had no clue where I was going. I just knew I had to go. Rain soaked everything as I charged ahead. In search of hope. In search of a goddess. In search of sea.