Writer's Wednesday!

WW Elementals–Finale Part 1

This is a continuation of the “Elementals” series. Comment which power you would like to have below for a shout-out in the next post!

“Her color is too pale. She needs a blood transfusion immediately.” 

Color, I thought, I remember color. My lips curled into a droopy smile. The sedatives were acting fast, rolling me gently into sleep, sliding me deeper and deeper into the calm, dark sea. The sea, the gentle sea, the sea that reminded me of Daria, who reminded me of gold, then of yellow by comparison.

Yellow. The dopey smile dripped off my face. I’d never liked yellow like others. Never liked how it felt, so…fake. Like it was trying too hard to be cheery. An artificiality, a toxic positivity that growled at you “everything is alright,” when everything was far from it. Yellow was sickness, negative thoughts masked by a bright facade. 

Toxic, jaundiced, and yet, a memory drifted to me then, a very mixed memory of my time as a human. A memory that I wasn’t sure was even real or a figment of my drowsy imagination.

“No, please, we can wait, just give her five more minutes!” A frantic voice. What were they doing there in my memory? I let the echoes drift into the oblivion, settling deeper into the recollection, welcoming the fragments of speech as they lazily wheedled their way into my mind.

A school day. My lashes grazed my cheeks again, ever so gently, feeling so downy and soft as clouds, so soft that I let my eyes rest with them. The white, beeping world was gone, giving way to the replaying of a moment in my mind. A moment the world would not long remember; a single flicker in any other person’s life, and yet, a precious instance all the same, one I would find pivotal to my life even lying there in that blank place. 

That place–wherever or whenever that was, that place. Somewhere with a bed. And a blanket. And white walls. And Talia, and Kenna, and Daria, all my friends, and a nice lady with sky-blue uniform and soft brown eyes. 

Yes, I would let myself rest my eyes, let my feathery lashes trail kisses on my cheeks. So I did. I rested there, then–whenever and wherever that was–and remembered an instance about color.

A school day, in autumn, when the Ohio breeze swirled and eddied and the leaves patterned a carpet on the earth, dancing in a breeze I could see but not feel. Inside, the cool wind could not tickle my nose, could only gust outside the window as I wistfully watched.

English class. My favorite class. I was Mira Casse, a student, a relatively normal girl with strange features and an even stranger set of parents. Parents no one mentioned, or was quiet about if they did. An unspoken agreement: the Casse family was not to be discussed; there was something wrong about them and their ‘daughter.’

“Okay, for this assignment, we are taking a break from our text analysis for a while,” the teacher announced, eyes wandering to the window, just like mine. I had the thought that she and I were very similar. We were both far away in our minds, both in a place beyond here, somewhere in that wide open expanse of sky and field and forest. 

A few students exchanged satisfied looks. Others outright cheered, chucking their books below their desks and tittering excitedly with their friends. Wide eyed, pleased to move on from endless compare and contrast, baby birds preening and squawking for a chance to leap from the nest.

The elation faded into a softer buzz as the teacher explained we were doing some free association and connotation work with colors. She would call on a few people with the first things that come to her mind when they named the color: emotions, objects, abstract ideas like freedom and wealth. 

“Blue.” The room shot up with hands, arms waving and protruding like blades of grass shooting from the dirt. Sky. Ocean. Water. Calm. Peaceful. Sad. Happy. And the responses bubbled, and tumbled, and crashed in with superficialities. The typical answers. 

The entirely unsatisfying answers that everyone else seemed to accept as their own personal truth–as though thinking that blue meant happiness was a personality trait. Something that made them special.

I returned my gaze to the window, thinking, wondering what blue really meant. Yearning, I decided. It was yearning, a soft yonder blue in the distance, painting the sky with hope. The promise of something greater beyond the horizon. 

As I thought this, a girl poked her fingers up and said, matter-of-fact, 

“Blue is bubbles!” 

 I sunk lower into my seat, frowning.

“Green.” Earth, eco-friendly, gentle, leaves, nature, envy, and I sunk even lower, frown deepening. Analyzing the yellowing grass beyond the glass, a great discomfort gripped my stomach as I felt something new grappling inside my body, twisting me all up inside, yanking at my core and tearing my being. 

Because I knew what green meant. 

Green was wistfulness, nostalgia, a warm, inviting tug that leads you to the meadow or the pasture or the forest. A reminder of a simpler time, an instinctual time when your heart knew the way through the winding path of life and guided you onward without hesitation. Purity. Instinct. Life. Nostalgia.

Yellow was even worse–happiness, sun, beach, I tightened my fists–red about the same, purple made my eyes squeeze shut and when it came to brown I finally raised my hand. Maybe I couldn’t explain the other colors, but I could explain brown, black, deep, dark shades. They seemed to me to be the most simple: pure and natural as tilled earth underfoot.

“Yes, Mira?” The teacher called. I drew in a deep breath, rethinking if I should answer at all, when I finally decided I had to. No one else could do this shade justice; no one in the school or the class or the world.

“Brown is humanity. Brown is the rich, dark earth that coddled our crops, the pools of honey that gifted us sweetness, the decadent truffles we extracted from our simple ingredients and harnessed into a unique experience of texture and flavor. 

Brown was when Prometheus granted us fire and lit the sepia kindling with flame, brown was when we smeared umber mud across our brows to protect us from mosquitos, brown were the feathers and fur of our game, brown was the mahogany that we built into thrones and homes and settlements. Brown is the reason we survived and the ways we thrived. It isn’t just a color. Not to me.”

The room was silent. Every set of eyes was staring at me in awe or disgust or confusion. But the teacher removed her gaze from the world outside the window and beamed at me, eyes sparkling with approval that loosened the knot in my core. 

“Brown is humanity,” she echoed. And with the kindness of her voice brimming over into the silent room, I recognized the twisting that had yanked my gut into knots. It was difference. Difference from the rest of my class, my grade, all of humanity.  

I realized, for the first time in my life, that perhaps I was not a normal school girl, couldn’t be a normal school girl. I was something more. And my gut knew it, my brain knew it, my heart knew it. I was something more. Something…other.

“We have to start the supplementation immediately, ma’am, we can’t wait any longer!” I startled from my memory, the fragments falling away but the tone of the reflection remaining. A mixed tone. Prideful. Bitter. Uncomfortable. Freeing. Overwhelming, and I…supplementation? Curiosity stirred within me, a feeling I wasn’t sure I could act upon. I was so, so tired, bone-tired, Atlas-with-the-sky-on-his-shoulders tired.

“Please, she can heal herself, just don’t give her any blood! It might hurt her!” Talia. I knew that voice. I had to come back, had to know what they were doing to me. A dull ache re-formed in my chest and I remembered the arrow, where I had ripped it from my skin. What were they trying to do to me? What was happening?
I tried to force my eyes open, but they were weighed down like a branch bending under snowfall. A prickle in my forearm–an IV. What was Talia fighting? What were the doctors trying…

“I can assure you, this will not hurt her…” 

The weight of sleep washed over me like a tidal wave, and I struggled for a moment, hearing Talia groan with exasperation. For a moment, I hung, suspended between the waking world and the unconscious one. 

Sleep overcame me at once and I drifted away into the deep, dark sea.

    Part 2 of the Elementals series finale is coming soon!

    Writer's Wednesday!

    Writer’s Wednesday… Escape!

    Image from Etsy

    *This is a continuation of Kate Paxton’s story, starting from the first ever Writer’s Wednesday.

    Some days were fine. So fine that I almost felt like a normal student as I sat at my desk, twirling a lock of sun-bleached blond hair around my finger. Other days the late-summer mountains looked like heaven outside the window. Today was one of those days.

    RIIING! The bell shrieked, ringing in the start of the second week of school. But my  thoughts couldn’t be further from first hour English. Soaring blue peaks lingered outside the window, tantalizingly close as they jutted out above the thick canopy of yellowing leaves.

    The trees were beginning to lose some of their summer luster, emerald greens fading to an ugly yellow-brown color that clung to the leaves like rot. It was strange to think that such an ugly color would transition into the crimson and gold tones of autumn.

    How could such a gross yellow-brown simply be the sign of beautiful things to come? I thought, staring wistfully out the window, watching the mighty willow sway in the wandering breeze. That sounds like something a philosopher would wonder, and construct from that some kind of glorious life lesson.

    I snorted at the thought, turning bright red as my classmates shot me confused and almost disgusted glances. The flush on my sun kissed cheeks quickly faded. Ever since I ran away, people’s opinions didn’t matter so much anymore. Things I would have been humiliated at before, things I would have obsessed over and tormented myself for now easily slipped my mind, a little silver fish leaping from the stream only to swiftly disappear beneath the rushing waters.

    “KATE! Are you paying any attention?” Jolting out of my thoughts, I snapped up my head that I hadn’t even consciously made the decision to lay down in the first place. Needless to say, I was shocked. Normally my teachers were very gentle and soft with me, since they assumed I was traumatized or mentally unstable. They were probably right.

    “Honestly?” Raising my gaze to make eye contact with the teacher, I stared her down, instinctively sizing her up. The teacher, Ms. Alba, was hawk-like in appearance, with sharp cheekbones and an angular nose that jutted from her face (and was usually upturned in a haughty sneer). She was thin and bony, with no fat to protect her and no muscle either. Perched on her chair, staring at me with those narrowed brown eyes, she reminded me of an eagle that came near the lake in the summer, scornfully surveying the land from a gnarled branch. Though she was taller than me, I was quite certain I could win in a fight.

    Nothing intimidated me anymore, especially not a scrawny English teacher. People were of no concern. Nature held both true beauty and true power that humans couldn’t even begin to imagine. I would know.

    “You know what? No. I wasn’t paying attention,” I blurted at last. The room fell quiet immediately, the noise and chatter of the classroom dropping off into a stunned silence.

    “I-I- you…” Ms. Alba stuttered, mouth agape in astonished anger. For a moment, she no longer seemed like an eagle, with wind-blown brown hair like feathers and a harsh stare. For a moment she looked like an elephant that had been frightened by a mouse, who thought herself to be powerful and unrivaled only to be threatened by a puny little rodent.

    I gave her a smug, rebellious smile, flipping my hair behind my shoulder with a flourish and resting my chin on my hand; Ms. Alba set her jaw furiously, seeming to regain her composure. Oohh crap.

    “Well, maybe you should listen then. I will send you to detention!” she threatened, shaking a finger at me. No! You can’t do this! Not unless you’re going to escape again! My heart stopped for a moment. I laughed out loud, and classmates stared at me with bug-eyed expressions that said, “How can you be so stupid?”

    But the thoughts of escape trickled into my brain viciously, pouring in with intensity that grew along with my anger and ingraining themselves deep in my mind. It was so simple. I could just escape. Right here. Right now. My mind screamed again, logic immediately combatting the idea with rational reasons not to do it.

    “You know, I might like detention. Nice solitary time. Maybe ‘reflect on my behavior.’ Apologize to everyone for… what, following my dream? Being myself? Running away from stupid society because I love nature? Wow. I am such a sinner.” Sarcasm dripped from my voice, so heavy that it weighed my words. Raw fury blazed in her eyes as I held her gaze, dubiously tilting my head as irritation and restlessness warred in my chest.

    Lub-dub. You need to escape. Lub-dub. Stay, suppress the feeling. It’ll never work anyway. Lub-dub! The woods are your home! Lub-dub! There’s a better way to do this! Go back to the therapist. You can work this out! Despite the pain and indecision that was bubbling hot in my blood, I still held the teacher’s gaze fiercely.

    “You need to stop. This isn’t the stupid woods anymore, where you can do whatever you want and frolick or whatever. Because you were caught. That fantasy is over, so now you need to respect me. Go to the office. Now,” she said tautly, pointing angrily at the door. Rage rocketed through my heart, boiling my blood and fueling the thoughts. I didn’t move. I was paralyzed, glued to my desk, unwilling to move towards the door. The trees outside swayed in the breeze, gentle and welcoming, the bold blue mountains in sharp contrast to the warm earthy tones.

    “Ms. Paxton! Go! Now. You need to obey! This is not the wild. You will never go back.” The stern voice echoed over and over in my ears. Unconsciously, I got up, pushing back my seat with a loud screech. My heart pounded wildly in my chest; the teacher beamed with pride, watching me stand up.

    She expected me to go to the office, thought that I had given up and accepted my fate: to be bound to society, to be molded into a perfect, pristine person that bows under the pressures of the normal.

    But I wasn’t heading towards the door. Ms. Alba’s grinning face fell with each step as I strode towards the window. Thud-thud. Thud-thud. Thud-thud. The same sound the killer had made stalking through the dusk, the same sound I made meandering through the caves, the same sound I made as I had ambled down the shining sand of the lake. Footsteps. Overlooked, but such an important part of our life. That thud-thud that you pay no attention to is always there, at the best and worst parts of life and every second in between.

    “Where are you going? Kate Paxton, I demand that you go to the office! Where are you going? Someone grab her!” Her words bounced off me, like a bullet bouncing harmlessly off of bulletproof glass. My whole world was outside that window, and I was just inching towards it. People fumbled for my arms feebly, trying to grab me. It was a futile effort, and I hardly noticed their weak attempts as I approached the window.

    Running a hand down the cool glass, I thought, this is it. All that stands between me and a life of freedom is this thin pane of glass. Easily shattered. This measly window and some weak students. I gazed wistfully out the window, watching the wind ruffle the trees and the yellow leaves falling to the ground in flurries. Rocky blue mountains soared beyond, and I yearned to reach them, to run my hand over the stone and feel the raw power.

    I couldn’t take it anymore. My heart pounded for the woods, each beat a cry out to the mountains. A gust of wind blew my hair as I yanked up the window frame. Swinging a leg over the side, I stared at the ground below. If I missed the branch I was aiming for, I would splatter all over that ground, shattered on the grass as my disbelieving classmates watched in utter horror. It was a risk I had to take. Without further hesitation, I swang over my other leg and threw myself out the open window.