Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! Elementals–Afterlife

On a day like that, it was impossible to feel like everything is okay. Some people have an unfaltering belief in the positive outlook: rainbows always come after the rain–as long as you let the sun shine through.

 I used to think that way too, when I was Mira Casse, a starry-eyed teen with a passion for the sky. But there was no silver lining for the cloud that had eclipsed my life. I had been as normal as I ever could have been, a month ago. Now I was huddled in an alley, clutching the limp form of a girl I’d barely known. 

I shuddered, letting the tears spring to my eyes. I hadn’t cried in a long time, it seemed, and with every petty little heartbreak I’d endured in my high school years, the cries had felt freeing–as though the warm torrent of tears that slid down my cheeks carried all my sorrow with it, lightening the swirling storm in my heart.

This cry was different. It was a cruel, empty, shameful act of cowardice in the face of death. It was trying to hide from my grief, wake up from this enduring nightmare of the last few weeks. I cradled in my arms a lifeless prodigy that I had barely known, a sweet Italian girl without the slightest inkling of how vast her powers truly were. A heavenly embodiment of the sea with endless possibilities. Killed within the course of a few days. A wound from a ship. An arrow to the back. Daria was dead.

Zara had taken off with determination in her gaze, chasing after a young woman, screaming after her insistently and leaving us in the dust. Talia said the name was that of her long-lost sister: the one who had disappeared years ago after running away to Kommetjie… the one that had never come back. Zara was gone, too. A poor girl with a missing sister and a tortured past, condemned by her whole village for trying to help them. Knowing Artemis’s games, the “sister” Zara was chasing was nothing but an illusion to lure her away. If that was true, as I suspected it was? Zara was dead.

Curled in a dank, fetid alley, I willed death to come take away my suffering. Kenna and Talia sat on either side of me, leaning their heads on my shoulders. Kenna conjured sparks and swirling ashes in the air, tinkering with the curling threads of fire that hung suspended in her control. 

Her left knee jittered, body wrought with tension and unasked questions that I could sense on her tongue. How much longer will we rest? The mercenaries were without a doubt nearby, canvassing the area. But I was thankful she didn’t ask the question. I couldn’t imagine moving right now, taking a step forward and running away again. Running away was what had brought me here, to the stench of death congealing on the humid air, to the darkest shame of my heart: I wished I was human. 

Somewhere in me I felt Mira Casse, striding boldly down the dark hall, smelling the scent of cherry blossoms and fresh grass wafting in from the open window. A beautiful high school girl dreaming under a blanket of stars, gazing up at the brilliant Ohio sky and yearning to be a part of the vast unknown of the heavens. Human. Loving and living, heart cracking and mending, carefree and vivacious under the blazing starlight. I wanted more than this twisted, power-filled life that I was trapped in. I wanted more for all of us.

I was going to be an astronomer. Kenna could have been a firefighter or a military officer, Daria a marine biologist. Talia might have become a lead meteorologist, growing out of her shyness and lighting up the screen. Zara could’ve been an environmental biologist, studying the natural world and the Earth. Now two were dead. Three quivering in an alley, waiting on a command from some unknown force, longing for an apparition to show us the way, to drink some honeycomb elixir and let myself fade away into the stars. 

Footsteps sounded, not far away. The drum of sound grew with each passing moment, a heavy tread like a large man in boots. I could feel myself floating away, detaching from reality. Kenna’s hands grabbed me roughly, pulling on me. I cried out, blind with pain, batting away her hand. 

“Leave me! Run! I can’t leave her alone.” Clutching Daria to my chest, I stroked her hair, tears spilling over the girl that I had barely known. Kenna shook me with increased fervor, urging me with words that I couldn’t hear. The world was a haze of tears, a meaningless blur of voices and dead eyes. 

“Selene, she’s dead! We have to go!” Talia insisted, her clear, frantic voice cutting through my hysteria. More than anything, I yearned for Mira Casse. I wanted to be a human; I never wanted to run again. Let Artemis kill me. Let me drown in my sorrow and join Daria. Perhaps I’d meet my mother again, face framed with blonde locks. Braiding my hair, gazing at me with pure, human pride. My beautiful angel. One day you will be among the stars, where you belong. But we need your light on Earth, Mira. Let it glow. 

I had failed her, the mother who had never truly been my mother at all. Kenna squeezed my hand, as though in a silent goodbye. She knew better than anyone that I wouldn’t move unless she physically dragged me away. That wasn’t what I wanted, they knew. Embers and Storm, bright-eyed, able to change the world. My time was up.

As the pounding footsteps grew ever louder, the two girls slipped out of the alley, disappearing from sight. On cue, a man thundered into the dank sliver of space. Stark red hair, ghostly pale skin sprayed with freckles, a silver knife clutched threateningly in his palm. Hugging Daria close, I closed her eyes with a butterfly-soft touch and waited to die.

🌊Daria

Daria had always imagined life after death a certain way, the way that had been ingrained in her head since the moment she was born. Good souls go to heaven. Sinners go to hell. 

Heaven, a billowing landscape of pillowy white clouds, beams of golden sun streaming through the puffy wisps. Everything you’d ever loved and lost, your family you’d never gotten to meet, or the ones that had gone too soon. A childhood dog trotting energetically with a bone, youthful as a small puppy and as soft as the cotton-candy clouds themselves. The chiming of the Saint Maria Assunta church bells filling the air with warm, joyful chords. 

Hell, a fiery chasm of endless tortures. Sinners on every level uniquely punished by twisted demons. The flap of leathery winds. A stench of brimstone and diseased breath.

Instead, Daria found herself in midnight’s blank grasp. Nothingness. Empty black as far as the eye could see, neither hot nor cold, but an uncomfortable sensation of…no sensation at all. There was no tether to the outside world, nothing but the faint sound of lapping water somewhere in the blackness.

“Mom? Are you out there?” she asked the dark in her native language, hopeful phrases rolling off her tongue. Daria expected at least an echo of her words, to hear the sweet Italian syllables cascade into the air. It was as though her sound was immediately quenched, a towel thrown down onto a bass drum.

 Disappointment swelled in her unembodied conscience. Water. Just water, a soothing lap like the waves on the shore outside her Positano home. She should have known better than to hope: for a spirit-filled heaven with soaring white clouds, for her late mother’s warm touch and sweet bakery smell, for anything more out of death but an infinite oblivion. 

Out of the dark, a great sob came to her, nothing like the church bells from her seaside home. Selene, she’s dead! We have to go! 

A voice! Was it her own thought? Surely not; it was a voice like raindrops on the roof, rapid, frantic. Was that what the angels sounded like?

Daria wished she could feel something: the blissful warmth she imagined of heaven…or even the fiery cold of hell. Instead, she felt no sensation at all: no underlying feel of being. It was a sensory-deprivation chamber, a distant sound of lapping water and screams and pounding feet. Of ragged breath now, a distant voice coming from all sides then not at all.

Was she being held in the arms of her mother, awoken from a nightmare that had lasted years and years? A nightmare where she set off to work one day, still smelling like pastries from the day before? A nightmare where Daria’s mother never returned except for a motionless body in a casket, a dismal funeral on a rainy day? Or was she laying on a coroners’ table, being examined for her strange powers, poked and prodded and shocked with electrons?

All she knew was that this was the end of the line, and…somehow, she knew that she was being held. There was no sensation. No contact. Just a gut feeling. As though from an echo in a deep, dark cave, Daria could hear the sounds of sobs, gasping breath. 

Someone out in the other world was crying for her, someone she knew if only in a dream. She wished she could tell the voice that she wasn’t in pain. Memories of an arrow rose and fell, crumbling in the oblivion. Barely an inkling anymore…but the person sounded as though their heart was breaking, as though watching whatever was left of Daria hurt her soul. She wished she could tell the voice she wasn’t in pain there.

There was no suffering, no joy either: she supposed that was all she could ask of Death. Greedy of her to think that her failure to live would be rewarded by clouds and a smiling face. 

Suddenly, something called to her. She felt a tugging at her thoughts, a power, a strength–water? An invisible tether snapped into creation, an olive branch extended from her to the other side. 

They weren’t by the sea anymore; the water that called her had to be tears. Selfish. Selfish! But Daria grabbed onto them, pulling the droplets through into the nothingness. A drop of water splatted on her nose.

Wait! She was dead. Yes. Certainly. Embroiled in darkness, she was dead–so why did she feel the splat of water hitting her skin? 

A feeling! 

A sensation!

A state of being was forming in the dark. More water called. She received it, pulling it closer, hearing a vacuum suction as she dragged each tear through. Another splat, another…baffling. Baffling! But unmistakable water…

“Mamma? Mamma, mi senti?” Mom? Mom, can you hear me? The words echoed this time, the darkness accepting them rather than suffocating them. Still no response–her heart dropped with realization: the tears I am summoning are not the tears of an angel, of my mother bringing me closer to Heaven. They are the tears of a human. I’m being pulled back! 

Abruptly she stopped seeking out the water. It hovered somewhere out of reach, itching for her call. She could feel her nose now, wrinkling as the droplet slid down her cheek and slithered down her throat. 

Was this what she wanted? Each tear Daria pulled through to that side–death’s side–was strengthening her tether to the living world. Was she prepared to go back to pain, to the prick of the arrow throbbing in her back, to the metallic gush of blood through her tattered black swimsuit? 

This should be easy, she thought, wrinkling her nose, still trying to spread the state of being down to her legs, her toes, her fingertips. 

It should be an easy choice: seize the connection her power brought, spring forward into life to help that suffering voice. But–in a way–the nothingness was comfort. It was uniquely sweet in its blankness. 

She was mortally wounded in the living world–flesh torn by a wooden hull, skin pierced by an arrow. But there, floating in the black…she was nothing. No pain, but at the hefty price of no pleasure. Daria was willing to pay that price.

Just as she began to let go of the sensations of face and nose and teardrops, just as she was ready to hope for a heaven beyond this black, she heard a voice. 

Take me. Kill me if you want to, I won’t fight! I’m done running from Artemis for my choice…I’ll never be ready to live forever. But if Daria…Her face contorted, startled to hear her name in the disembodied words…if Daria, an innocent, had to die for the Huntress’ agenda, it seems right that I die too before she can torture me for her own gain. I will take every opportunity to steal her pleasure. I will relish the fact that I will die here, with Daria. So do it. Do it! Kill me. Because I will not leave this alley alive.

Daria didn’t even have to make the choice. She didn’t have to know who it was, the voice on the other side of the void. She called every single drop of water from the girl’s tears, every ounce of humidity from the living world, every essence of being from the place where she lay dead.

In a rush of light, life sprang forward to her body. She felt the thud of her heart in my chest. Her eyes snapped open, tears splashing across her skin, tangling themselves in her hair. An odor foul and bloody as death itself washed through her nostrils. 

Selene was above her, midnight hair tickling her chin, face gaunt yet strikingly gorgeous in its moondust pallor. Daria’s side throbbed, her back throbbed, her head throbbed, and yet when she sucked in a breath, hope flooded her now-beating heart. She was alive. And she wasn’t going to let Selene die.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! 🌠Without a Trace

“Without a trace.” These were the words that rang in the ears of the people, that sliced on the wind with whispers and ruffled the wise willows (who seemed to droop lower and lower with each time her name was spoken.) Pictures plastered the windows. Amber alerts screeching their discordant call into the night air. One name spat like a curse, one woman sobbing it, the whole world buzzing about it. One name that swept through the school hallways like a tornado, leaving silence and tension in its wake. One name that rolled through the rural Ohio town like a ghostly fog creeping over the fields.“Mira. Casse.” 

It was the last thing Melissa Casse would hear before it happened. It was a night like every other before it, deathly silent except the whisper of the wind and the chatter of crickets roaming the moonlit fields. Selene’s captor stood in the light of the open window, looking out across the glittering grasses.


“Mira. Casse.” A detached voice whispered into the night, a voice that had plagued her nightmares, haunting every waking moment. A second later, a silver blur screamed down from the clouds. The frail blonde woman felt a prick on her chest, a burst of pain like a bee sting amplified a hundred times. She shrieked, placing her pale fingers to her chest, feeling the wetness there. 

Blood. The silver glinted in the light as she yanked it out of her chest, crimson spurting onto the wood floor in gushing drops. Rattling moans escaped her chest, the pain starting to jab at her. Eyes wide, her knees buckled.

“Melissa? Honey, are you okay? Let me in!” His voice was rough with worry, each muscle of his sun-weathered skin taut as a tightrope. She could imagine him outside the door-  his head in his hands, dark hair ruffled wildly, dark shadows lurking under his eyes like a brand of the many sleepless nights. 

“Melissa, please. Please, don’t do this. What’s wrong? Let me in!” Silence clung to the air for a second, shattered almost instantaneously by a screeching sob. Pure pain, the rawest heartbreak, the hottest fire, the iciest cold- bottled up into an ear splitting scream. James pounded the wood. Crack. Crack. Crack. CRACK. Not enough. Not enough. Melissa cried out again, thrashing as her heart pounded brokenly. Panic surged in white-hot waves, crashing through her veins. 

She had to get to the window, had to lock the latch and get away from this place as soon as possible. Mira. Casse. Artemis’s chilly laugh echoed on the night as though mocking her futile attempts to move. Crimson blossomed over her white nightgown as she covered her ears, slicking her pale fingertips with blood like Sleeping Beauty with a lot of curiosity but no prince. Melissa dragged herself an inch closer, the little metal latch glinting in the moonlight. 

Sharp, stabbing pain rocketed through her, vision blurring into a foggy haze with each little movement. Everything was blurry now. Swishing white curtains like vengeful phantoms. Stars in the sky shone painfully bright like torchlights bobbing in a dank black cave. Her cotton nightgown stained with red, creeping over the fabric like weeds in an untended garden. The silver arrow protruding from her chest was like an exclamation mark misplaced at the end of a grim sentence.

Crack. Crack. CRACK. CRACK. “Melissa, I’m coming, hold on!” Blackness began to creep in around the edges. The frail blonde woman slammed the window shut, stinging pins and needles pricking her skin. Just as she reached for the latch, so tantalizingly close, the window flew open with a gust of wind, knocking her back onto the floor. THUD. Pain crackled through her skull, a spark bursting in a blazing inferno.

Standing there, wreathed in moonlight, was Artemis in all her glory. Auburn hair loose around her shoulders, hazel eyes burning with fury like hot embers in her pale face. Her stark white toga fluttered in the breeze as she reached for her quiver. Melissa tensed, braced for another shot, but nothing came. Artemis plucked a broken chain from the leather bag, tossing it at the blood-stained woman. Mira’s star necklace. 

“What have you done to her?” Melissa sobbed, blonde strands of hair whipping in the wind that picked up with each passing second. The goddess’s face was cold, emotionless, missing any humanity. The glint of mercy and love she had seen and nurtured in Selene wasn’t there in Artemis. Washed away with the countless centuries… or perhaps it had never been there at all. 

“Nothing, Mrs. Casse. Nothing at all… yet. Perhaps you should ask her what she did to me.” Venom overflowed from the icy words, a fury so cold and deep it burned away the melodic, silvery sweetness of her voice. “You changed her, Melissa. Turned her weak-willed and sensitive. I could have fixed her, could have hardened her with the passing centuries. If that had been all the damage you’d done. But it wasn’t, was it?” 

Mrs. Casse moaned, visions of Mira’s sparkling midnight blue eyes dancing across her mind’s eye, memories of family breakfasts, looking lovingly on as her “daughter” scampered onto the high school bus in jeans and flannel, completely oblivious that she had lived in golden gowns for most of her life until Melissa had taken her away. Crickets’ chirps cried in the golden fields, interrupting the still night air. 

“It wasn’t was it?” Artemis asked vehemently, trembling from head to toe. Her silver heels jittered on the floor, an uneven, jittery tap like a soundtrack of insanity. The mellifluous, crooning voice of the huntress was gone, scorched away like green grass burning to a crisp under a desert sun. Melissa groaned, the arrow throbbing in her chest just a fraction of an inch from her heart.

 “Was it? Was it?” Artemis shrieked, her heels tapping more violently with each passing second, her pale face flushing a furious pink. Crack. CRACK. CRACK. CRACK. The wood of the door splintered, beginning to give way. She could see a glimpse of her husband’s sweat-beaded face through the cracks, bronze cheeks flushed red with effort, eyes wide with desperation. Melissa whispered a silent prayer that he would have the strength. Hope rose in her chest like a phoenix unfurling its mighty wings. 

“No. It wasn’t the only thing I did. But I’m glad for the things I did. You made her cold, heartless, almost beyond saving. I loved her, I helped her, I tried to give her humanity and mercy-” 

“Ha!” Artemis’s lips curled into a twisted grin. “Mercy is for the weak. You did the damage that I couldn’t repair. Not only did you steal her from me, wipe her memory, pit her against me, you did the worst thing of all. You made her human.” Before you could blink, Artemis drew her silver bow and flicked her finger. Melissa felt a sharp prick of pain and saw her husband’s tortured face looming above her. Artemis was gone, disappeared without a trace. The last thing she felt was the sticky blood on her fingertips where the second silver arrow had directly pierced her heart. Mira. Casse. 

*****************

I jolted awake, gasping for air. My heart throbbed, pulsating with a sharp pain that felt like something lodged directly in my chest. Clutching my throat, I ran a hand over the star shaped scar where my necklace had sat for so many years. 

“Where are we?” I asked, glancing around the deck. Daria’s puddles of sticky crimson blood had dried by now, leaving ominous brown stains clinging the the wood like an omen of disaster; the cloying metallic scent still clung to the air, intermingling with the tangy sea salt breeze. 

“From what I’ve heard, we’re nearing the Cape of Good Hope. There’s buzz that they came to Africa to hunt down Earth, but are concerned by a new article that was released about us.” Daria paused, widening her eyes in a shockingly good imitation of innocence as one of the mercenaries stalked by. Grumbling along, he barely gave a second glance to us. Obviously the crew didn’t seem to think we were much of a threat (with the enchanted bonds and lack of substantial food). They’re probably right, I thought with frustration, staring helplessly at Artemis’s burly mercenaries conversing on the bow. 

“Crescent Cunningham, a news reporter from Manchester-” Kenna’s head shot up like a bullet, tendrils of dark brown hair swirling around her shoulders like Medusa’s snakes.  

“Manchester?” The word flew out of her mouth like a dart, so fast it was almost hard to tell if it was a question. Something about the feral look in her eyes made me cringe back, as though shrinking myself down could save me from Kenna’s glare. I had never seen her coal black eyes burn so bright. The ropes around her wrists hissed, sizzling violently like an egg slammed to the sidewalk on a hot day.

“Yes,” Daria cleared her throat anxiously. “She’s from the Manchester Post. It’s something about our disappearance. She thinks we’re witches.” Her voice fell to a whisper on the last word, face crumpling as she put a hand to her anklet. It was adorned with a little golden cross. This power she was given must seem very unholy to her… The thought that our gift was unnatural sent shivers down my spine. It would take years for her to come to terms with it, let alone the fact that the Olympians existed, just barely out of sight her whole life. I pushed the thought aside. This was no place to console her. 

Kenna drew her knees to her chest, lip trembling with fury or grief- I couldn’t tell. Her bonds hissed angrily, charring black with each second. Out of the blue, it hit me. My heart pounded as I took in her knitted brows and tense shoulders. This just might work.

“Your school probably thinks you’re an arsonist. Don’t you think? They hear the accounts of you murdering a man, exploding in a ball of fire. An article about you on the run with other delinquents? They must think that you finally snapped,” I said lightly, sprinkling in some snark on a few words like an exclamation mark punctuating an angry sentence. Murdering. Delinquents. Snapped. Daria looked at me in alarm, mouthing a silent warning. I ignored her, smiling as Kenna clenched her fists, dark eyes scrunching at the corners. 

“Manchester, your hometown. Imagine how shocked they were, how disgusted they were to hear about you. A witch. I bet your brother can’t even walk through the hall without whispers and laughs trailing in his wake. Will, was it?” Guilt twinged in my heart as the words hung in the air, my heart strings plucking a discordant twang. It was working. Her coal eyes smoldered with intensity, furious tears dripping down her tan cheeks. Frayed black strands of rope were falling away slowly, hissing like an angry cat. Daria glanced at the charred threads then back at me, understanding lighting her eyes. 

“Stop. Now.” Kenna hissed through clenched teeth. I conjured up my most venomous smirk, suppressing the disgust and guilt that roiled in my gut. You have to do this. We have a chance. My lips were stretched so wide my cheeks stung; I felt like the Cheshire Cat lurking smugly in the dark woods.

“Oh, wait. I forgot something, didn’t I? Don’t you think Charles would be upset too?” Her eyes glowed hot. The rope curled away, threads blackening quicker and quicker with each word. The smile that curled my lips felt wrong, twisted, demonic. It was necessary. I tried to think of happy things as I braced myself for the next sentence, but all I could think about was how merciless I sounded. How… inhuman. Like Artemis. I steeled myself with an achy breath. 

“Ah, but he can’t be, can he.” My smile was pained, teeth gritted as I forced out the words. “Because you killed him.” A single, silent second passed, a second that felt like an eternity. Then she exploded. Fire burst from her fingertips, ravaging her bonds in a foul swoop of flame! Kenna lurched for me, a blur of flying hair and clenched fists. Charred ropes fell from her wrists.

“It was an accident and you know it! You sick, twisted, lying-” She screamed, too consumed in fury to finish.Within seconds I was pinned to the ground, Daria frantically holding Kenna back as she threw herself forward. Fire licked my skin, searing pain rocketing across my arms. Then it all stopped. Kenna froze in place, her furious face smoothing as she looked out across the horizon. I sat up and followed her gaze. There it was. The Cape of Good Hope in all its glory. But more than that? Storm and Earth racing towards our ship in a boat. Today was the day we would escape.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! 🌎Earth 2- Frenzy

Kommetjie, Cape Town, South Africa. Image from South Africa Info

Shoutout to Jina Bazzar (check out her blog, authorsinspirations.wordpress.com,) my friend Kamina Lambert, and my amazing aunt Teresa Arend for commenting on the last edition! You are all amazing!

The smell of coffee and a good story was in the air. Crescent Cunningham breathed in deeply, a sly grin spreading over her thin lips, unkempt black hair ringing her face with a halo of frizz. Sunlight filtering through the cafe window bathed her freckled skin in gold. If she tried hard enough, the reporter could imagine it was a spotlight, beaming blinding white light down at her like a model walking the runway.

A thin blonde waitress slid a towering cup of double chocolate cappuccino onto the table before ducking away hastily, as though she feared what would happen if she lingered even a millisecond longer. Crescent shot her a glare as she scurried off, blonde hair swishing frantically in its high ponytail. Every other day of the year, she would have scolded the girl for her wrinkled blouse even as she walked away- but today, she was in a good mood. The best.

You see, Crescent Cunningham was ruthless. She knew it would hit Manchester hard, as it was the home of one of the subjects from her article- Kenna King, the missing girl and murder suspect. But that never stopped her. The lines of connection had been drawn in bold red ink that no one could seem to see but her. Until now. 

People shouted in the streets, crowding around the big red news dispenser. Papers fluttered in the breeze, coins clinking to the pavement as passersbys scrambled to get in line. A dark-haired woman cried out at the headline, wiping a tear from her eye and hurrying off, still sobbing at the front picture. Teenage girls stood in a cluster, whispering and trading a newspaper around. Crescent smirked, eyes roving ravenously over the scene, ears hungrily taking in each sound. The clank of coins entering the slot, the scuffle of hasty feet, conspiratorial whispers, the crinkle of a turning page. 

Each time a person walked by holding a newspaper from the Manchester Post, her heart leapt, clinging to that feeling. A twisted joy, a strange triumph, a guilty pride. Success. Every time she heard the clink of a coin slipping into the newspaper dispenser, giddiness flooded her senses and she could forget about the brutal harshness of reality for a moment. 

No more rich-smelling coffee shop, no more small apartment, no more crappy desk job. Just Crescent Cunningham in the spotlight for once, and all the newspapers in town trumpeting her article on the front page. The headline? Elemental witches at large! Five missing girls in the past week, all disappearing without a trace. Each of them with a connection to an element and demonstrating strange powers. Police may want to consider changing their approach from investigation… to witch hunt.”


*************************

“Selene, Kenna, Talia, Daria, Zara. Starlight, Embers, Storm, Sea, Earth,” I looked up at the frail blonde girl with confusion, the names still roiling in my head like angry bubbles on the surface of boiling water.

“Did I get that right?” My voice sounded loud and boisterous even to my own ears- the English language seemed so brash compared to my native tongue. Talia winced at my voice. Maybe I was just talking loud.

“Yeah, that was a lot better, Zara. How do you know so much English? I noticed some other children in your village spoke it too, during the ri-” The bus lurched over a pothole, sending the petite young woman bouncing off her seat. She yelped, smoothing her ruffled navy skirt.

“Riot?” She repeated, looking me over with disdain as I sat calmly, completely unmoved by the jolt. I resisted the urge to snicker at just how fragile my savior was. How could such a small girl conjure such a vengeful storm? She was incredibly short and waifish- I practically towered over her even sitting down!

Glancing out the window at the golden fields, a sob threatened to escape my chest. The earth had always been a part of me, a constant in the turmoil. My brother’s death. My family’s horror at my gift. Lonely nights under the cold starlight, echoes of my parents’ yells shattering the stillness, my only solace the chirp of crickets and the grit of dirt on my palms. 

Image from Framepool

Now, with the world gleaming right outside the window, I yearned to smash the glass and dive into the fields, letting the power surge through my body in a warm golden tide as life sprang from my hands. Longing to release the anxiety of a cramped bus, bury myself in the plants until I melted into the earth, feeling it thrum with life beneath my fingertips. I could still sense the distant pulse of the earth’s energy, beating like a far away heart. Pressing a clenched fist to my heart, I exhaled slowly, trying to flush out the chest-tightening anxiety. 

“In school, they taught us basic English. Are you sure your friend is going to be here?” I asked, looking over at Talia. She looked pensive, surveying all the other passengers with those ice-chip blue eyes as though she could find the secrets of the world in their faces. To me, almost everyone looked the same- just one blur of life, fighting to survive but never taking time to think. About life, the earth, the universe, that there might be something more than the endless shuffle of money and people. 

No one cares about the earth, no one else notices the way the ethereal white-gold sunlight filtering through the leaves at dawn. Nobody sees the elegant way the fireflies sashay through the sky at dusk like a glowing ballet, no one runs their hands along the grass just to feel the sweet tickle against their fingertips. No one gazes at the shadows the moonbeams scatter on a quiet night, no one smells the earthy musk of dirt and grass. No one loves the chirp of crickets or the gnarled bark of an old tree. No one but me. It was a lonely thought- but it just may have been a true one. Everyone on that bus that Talia was studying so closely were all infuriating to me. Mindless, in search of money and survival- nothing more, nothing less. My parents had been the same way…

“Yes, I’m positive!” Talia said, halting the hurtling freight train of thoughts to a screeching stop. “We can rent a boat from ARK Inflatables in Kommetjie, Cape Town,” she stumbled over the name, pausing to gather her thoughts. 

The mention of a familiar city sent torrents of deja vu crashing into my thoughts- memories of a trip to Kommetjie years ago: the jostle of a rickety old truck bed, my sister Inara’s mellifluous laugh, a long winding road from our village as we made the journey to deliver crops to the city. It had been the furthest I had ever been from home. The small, less than 3,000 population town, had seemed like a metropolis. Streets. Cars. People. Shops. A cacophony of foreign sounds grating my ears: tires grumbling across pavement, church bells clanging, footsteps thumping on cement.

 Inara had loved the bustle of the small city. Her pale jade eyes had lit up as the truck thundered down Gladiola Way, the tiny golden chips glinting in the fluorescent shop lights. I remembered joking to her that she should move to the city, the pang of despair that struck deep in my heart when she smiled that radiant smile of hers and agreed. My sister’s dream life didn’t involve me and the family farm anymore. She had loved the city the moment she got there, giddy with glee as I cringed at the noise and scent. It was her dream. It was my nightmare. 

“Kommetjie, Africa! I can’t believe I’m here, all the way from London. But they will be coming through here, I know it!” Talia clapped excitedly, either ignoring or not noticing the old lady’s harsh stare from across the aisle. “Selene said it herself in my dream. She overheard the kidnappers say they were going to sail past the Cape of Good Hope. They will be there. And we are going to intercept them.”

The bus thunked over another pothole, roaring down the dirt road and kicking up billowing clouds of dust in its wake. 

“I’ve never been on a boat,” I said plainly, Inara’s pale eyes still haunting my thoughts like a wrathful ghost refusing to be ignored. If I closed my eyes tight enough, I could imagine I was on the truck with her, thumping towards the town- the chatter of passengers replaced by my sister’s snort and our out-of-key singing interspersed with bursts of laughter. Before she had gone. Inara, my shining light, my sister, my best friend. Before she had gone.

Talia said something, put a hand on my shoulder, but I was far away. So far. Of course I was looking forward to the plan, saving all the other Elementals and overthrowing the tyrant Olympians… but I couldn’t focus when we were returning to the place I had gone long ago, when everything had been different. I was back in the time where my long black hair whipped in the wind and laughter floated on the breeze. When starlight shone down from the heavens like billions of spotlights on our grand stage, just my sister and me in the bed of a truck.

I felt Storm put her small head on my shoulder, and just as blissful sleep began to take me away, I heard them- sirens. Oh no. I jerked upright, Talia jolting out of a light doze. Looking back, blue lights painted the horizon. The color of the South African Police cars. The specks grew, hurtling towards the bus. I yelped at the ear-splitting moan of dozens of sirens and the screech of the bus brakes as it pulled over. 

“Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” Talia shrieked, standing up in her seat. The bus driver shot her a confused glance, brow furrowed. I shoved her aside, and we plowed down the aisle. Passengers shouted at us, hands raking my body and bringing intense flashbacks of yesterday’s mob careening across my mind’s eye. 

“Hey! Sit down, ladies!” The bus driver shouted gruffly. We charged up the aisle, chaos erupting in our wake. Screaming sirens blared louder with each passing second, my breath hitched. Panic and adrenaline warred in my chest, a tide of newfound emotions. 

Talia jerked the wheel out of his hands in a blur of flying blonde hair. Reeee!!! The wheels shrieked in protest and the bus swerved, plowing through the field. I waved my hand as we thundered over the golden fields, the trampled crops rising immediately to full height. A man grabbed me, valiantly trying to pull me away from the driver. With a flick of my fingers, vines exploded around his legs, curling into makeshift bonds until he fell back into a tide of panicked passengers. Police cars swerved after us, the crackle of their radios echoing on the wind. 

“We’ve found the missing girls. In pursuit.” Not for long. I thought as Talia yanked the wheel, nicking a tree in a huge U-turn that sent us bouncing along the road. My powers repaired the damage as we went, the slack-jawed farmer watched from a distance in awe. I gave him some extra height and produce (for his trouble- and to pay for any consequent shock therapy).

Just as the police cars emerged blazing and plant-covered from the crop field, Talia jammed her elbow into the driver’s face and sent the bus spinning back towards Kommetjie. Thrill exploded in my veins in bursts of adrenaline. Sirens blared like bleating sheep being herded by a Border Collie. 

“Can you even drive?” I yelled as Talia swerved the bus side-to-side in a zig-zag. 

“Depends-” She gasped, flooring the gas pedal, “what’s your definition of driving?” I laughed, not even caring about the cacophony of sounds pounding my ears. Me, Zara Nightlock, a simple farm girl from South Africa, not only had powers… but was in a car chase! Well… bus chase. I smiled, visions of Inara’s dark hair and pale eyes fading from my mind in the waves of adrenaline. Kommetjie was on the horizon, the police cars blaring behind us. 

We were on a quest to save Storm’s friends and save the world, running on nothing but a few dollars, gasoline… and a lot of luck.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! 🌎⚡Earth 1- Storm’s Quest

Image from ColourBox

*This is a continuation of the Elemental Series! You can find the rest in the archives. Comment below who your favorite Elemental is and why and I will give you a shout out in the next edition!

Blood stained her black swimsuit, gushing steadily from the torn flesh of her gut. Her incredibly wavy hair was soaked with sticky crimson that took over everything in an unforgiving tide, strong as the sea that lurched beneath the deck and twice as merciless. Seeping into the gnarled wood, the ropes that bound her wrists, the other girls’ clothes. Life flickered weakly, in and out; a grim reaper hovering just out of reach, ready to pounce. Salty ocean spray nipped at her pallid cheeks, the bronze fading into white like a waning moon.

Daria’s dreams were plagued with visions that danced across her mind like a rambunctious squirrel leaping into the road to interrupt the endless black of unconsciousness.

 A girl with ebony skin and the greenest of eyes, eyes that held a million memories overflowing with life. A green as deep as glinting emeralds far below the surface, as glittering as dewy wildflowers under the morning sun. A sheen of black hair dark as craggy mountains silhouetted in the dusk. The fiery sun lit up her bottle green eyes so they glinted like shattered glass. 

What she was standing in was the exact opposite of the life and warmth she exuded. Dead. A dirty, desolate landscape as far as the eye could see; the only sign of life were the sparse patches of dying yellow grass dotting the ground and the weak, spindly fingers of leafless trees clawing the sky. Everywhere you looked life was being quenched like a fire doused with water: cracked earth, remnants of animal bones scattered across the dirt, flurries of dust suffocating the dry air. 

The girl raised her hands in a beckoning motion. The earth shook, thrumming with power as grass emerged in waves, green spreading over the dirt like the sun leaching darkness from the sky at dawn. Trees sprouted up, growing and aging in seconds, the skinny shoots expanding into gnarled trunks under a single, delicate touch of her fingers. 

A horde of dark figures rushed across the rapidly growing field like the tide creeping up the shore in front of her house, leaping flames punctuating the ends of their torches like a crackling exclamation point. A blonde girl with eyes like raindrops thundered ahead, pushing through the mob and screaming at them to stop. Clouds coalesced, darkening the sky like a gray stain. Boom! Crack! With one sweep of her dainty hand, lightning split the sky, sending the green world spinning into blinding white.

Daria awoke with a gasp, sucking in air like a fish out of water. She tenatatively pressed a hand to her aching stomach, lips light with a prayer that this had all been a dream. The boat. The pain. The woozy, chemical smell of chloroform intermingling with the metallic stench of blood. Her hand came back sticky with red. Daria’s breath hitched in her chest, panic rising as she jerked her wrists wildly, watching the blood-stained rope darken as her skin chafed away to blood. 

“Hello. You must be Sea,” someone said airily with a sing-song tone like a flute’s song. She whirled at the voice, cautiously eyeing the pale black-haired girl that sat straight backed with her hands bound.

“I don’t- how did you know about my powers? Who are-” Daria paused, wincing and touching another careful hand to the torn flesh,”you? Other than the night girl from my dreams.” The girl raised a precisely trimmed brow.

“I wasn’t aware that I was in your dreams, Sea. All you need to know is that I am Selene, and that is Kenna,” Selene said, gesturing to a tan, dark haired girl thrashing against her bonds. She stopped to wave to Daria before throwing herself back into a wild fit. 

“You are one of five goddesses that control the Elements. I am Starlight, crazy over there is Embers- fire, if you prefer- and you are Sea. Now… what did you see in your dream?” Utter confusion and a wave of exhaustion rolled over Daria as blood seeped between her fingers, the flow slowing slightly under the pressure. At this point, there was no point in questioning it. She tried to recall the lapping of water on her toes. 

“A girl growing things,” she inhaled shakily, pinpricks of pain spiking all along her bronzed skin, “A mob. It looked like trouble- a big mob calling her a witch. She was a witch. But then a blonde girl made a storm and then everything was over in a flash of light.” 

As soon as the sentence was over, she sighed. Heavy lidded eyes fluttered shut just in time to see Selene smile. As she dozed off Daria heard Selene’s beautiful voice in fluent Italian,

“Storm did it. We have hope after all.”

🌧️ Talia

Dust rampaged through the dry desert air, caking peach sand over my pale skin. Hot wind carried the cries of the townspeople, venomous words floating on the breeze like a hungry vulture gliding on the currents. They were words I could understand in any language, words I’d heard countless times over the last few days. Witch. Unnatural. Threat.

I tore through the small, decrepit village, the dirty huts and collapsing buildings flying by in an indistinct haze. The journey from the beautiful, colorful coast of Italy to the dry expanses of the African savannah hadn’t been easy. 

Days upon days hitchhiking and trekking across the desolate land from dawn to dusk. Matting my hair into dirty strands, clogging every pore with dust that floated thick on the air like smog in the London streets, sand clinging to my clothes. Exhaustion was setting in with each time I used my powers, sprinkling myself with cool rain and beckoning the northern breeze to combat the brutal heat. Hiking over miles of cracked land with no guide but my instinct and a niggle in my gut to urge me on.

Image from English Stack Exchange

Through the sweltering streets, I could see the blazing torches of the mob swinging wildly like drunken fireflies. Cutting through a shadowy alley, I rammed into the crowd, shoving forward. Malnourished children clawed at me, some shouting at me in a language I didn’t recognize, others screaming in choppy English. Bodies pressed in on all sides. Hot. Sweat-slicked. Tense with anger and fear. Clamoring through the masses, dodging swinging torches and children hurling spears. Trampling feet. Pounding heart. Trembling hands. Angry people wide-eyed with fury. Writhing masses. Guttural screams that split the air like an arrow piercing an apple.

Over the dark tide of people I caught a glimpse of the goal. All I could do was stare with wonder at the sight before me. 

Trees were rising out of nowhere, the cracked earth crumbling into dark soil that sprouted grass. Waves of green crashed over the dusty landscape, life springing up in seconds. Wildflowers rose up, dotting the carpet of lush grass like fireworks bursting in a dark sky. In the middle of it all, trembling with the effort, was a dark girl with long black hair cascading down her back. Earth. 

I pushed forward, tearing through the hordes of people. The girl cried out, her thin frame convulsing under the ratty dress. Breaking free of the pulsating crowd, I kneeled beside her. She looked up at me, starry green eyes glimmering with terror before glancing helplessly at the oncoming tide of citizens.
“Can you speak English?” I asked. She nodded meekly, tears streaking down her dirt-stained cheeks. Even as she convulsed with the fatigue, I could feel the earth below me thrum with power, renewed life coursing through its veins. 

“My family- my people,” she gestured towards the mob, thin hands shaking with the effort. “I just tried to help undo the damage of the years. They call me a witch. Please help. Please. I can’t do this much longer.”

“Stop using your powers. It’s okay, I can help. I’m a witch too,” I said, clasping her hand in mine. The earth rattled and she rose, the tide of people edging closer and closer. I had to save her. I had to let it rain. Raising a hand to the sky, I clenched my fist, pulling it down with all my force. Thunder boomed, the roar of a vengeful beast crackling in the heavens. Clouds swirled overhead, the endless periwinkle sky splashed with ominous gray. Rain began to drizzle, pouring down faster and faster. Drops splattered the new leaves, the small canopy sheltering us from the worst of it. Flames were quenched, plunging the world into darkness. 

“What’s your name?” I shouted over the din, thunder rumbling like a bowling ball striking the wood. People shrieked, raging on as their torches died out one by one, rain pounding the newly grown grass.
“Zara!” She shouted between cracks of thunder.

“My name is Talia. I’m going to make a distraction, and then you have to run as fast as you can in the direction of the nearest port,” I yelled, gusts of wind howling like a banshee. Pelting rain came down in torrents, stinging my skin. The heat still clung to the now humid air, each lurching breath pulling in the suffocating air. Zara parted her lips as though to ask a question, staring at me in wonder as though I was the strangest girl she’d ever seen. I probably was, actually- it’s not everyday that you see a pale Londoner in the middle of Africa starting a storm with nothing but willpower. 

With a deep, rattling breath, I squeezed her hand. Bites of rain nipped at my skin, cool and stinging like a blizzard’s icy kiss. The mob of people crashed over us, tearing at my clothes and ripping at Zara. I held on, squeezing my eyes shut as hands raked my skin. Vicious. Merciless. Just like the storm.

Summoning all my power, I raised my hand towards the sky again, forcing my mind to go blank. The cacophony of thunder and pounding rain, of screaming children and guttural yells, the warmth of Zara’s calloused hand in mine, the pain itching in my veins- all of it melting away. With everything I had, I brought down my fist. Lightning cleaved the sky, striking the earth with a bang! The world was lost in blinding white. Screams erupted. Feet scrambled. Smoke tinged the humid air.

 Everything was lost as Zara pulled me away, my feet stumbling across the terrain. We separated from the panicked horde of people, sprinting through the lush grass as rain pelted the world furiously.

Through the chaos, I could imagine Selene smiling at me, Kenna joking with a playful grin, Daria filled with hope (though I had never seen her face.) Thunder roared, the storm raging on as the power drained from my body little by little. Stumbling through the torrents, trembling with adrenaline, all I could think was, you did it, Storm. You saved her from her death. Saved Earth. There is still hope yet.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! 🌊Sea 2- Kidnapped

Image from Telegraph India

*A multi-perspective continuation of the Elemental series- find the rest in the archives!

🔥Kenna King- Embers

I woke up in a pool of blood, a sea of red. I was drowning in fire, throat burning, head throbbing. My memories were a hazy fog rolling over a roiling sea of thoughts- Why am I here? What happened? With a groan, I tried to stabilize myself with my hand to sit up only to find ropes knotted around my wrists. 

Where am I? The floor pitched and swayed wildly beneath my feet, the sky seeming to swim above me. Visions barraged my mind’s eye, a jumble of places and colors all crying out for my attention, sounds blurring into an ear-splitting static. Waves crashing. Dawn rising over an infinite sea. Thunder rumbling like a beast uncaged. Black hair in the wind. Fire. Talia’s meek voice rising louder and louder, screaming in desperation. Burn marks. Howling gales. A desert. A herd of dark figures. Blood on white sheets.

I screamed, thrashing on the floor as the static shrieked louder and louder. Yanking on the ropes that bound me, shrieking, my head splitting apart with visions. Pain rattled through my skull as the jumbled fragments of memories hurtled through my mind like a freight train derailed. Blonde hair flying in the wind. Stormy skies. Silver heels broken on the floor. Shattered glass glinting like crystals under a fiery sun. Men’s guttural yells followed by crack across the head. Black flooding my vision, an unforgiving tide swelling and pitching a boat like a monster ravaging the dusk. 

I was a rock in the middle of a raging river, overtaken by a tsunami of colors and memories, a million sounds compiled into a static roar. Out of the torrents, one word arose like a silver salmon leaping from the crashing waves. Kidnapping. 

It all stopped abruptly, gone in an instant like a light switch flicked to off. A strange calm took over my mind. Kidnapped. The ropes around my hands and feet were bindings, the dark figures my kidnappers. I stopped thrashing, feeling the heat that had unconsciously flooded to my wrists. White hot. These ropes had been designed for me, to quench my fire. Fury bloomed in my heart, curses pouring out of my mouth so fluently that my mother would be appalled enough to suspend my access to pizza- pizza… 

My stomach panged with hunger, a longing for sauce and cheese so intense I retched on the deck. That was all it took to set me off. The uncharacteristic calm evaporated immediately into madness, thrashing and screaming, not caring about the blood that soaked my clothes. I focused all the fire I had on my wrists and forced my hands apart as hard as I could, viciously attacking the bindings. I was going to get out. No matter what it took.

💧Talia Thorn- Storm

Image from Pixabay

The dock was slippery beneath my feet, slicked by a sheen of rain and the spray of the surf. Petrichor. That was the perfect word to describe it- the earthy smell after rain. Positano’s bustling harbor was silent in the early light of day as dawn reigned on the horizon, painting the world in red and gold. The fiery sun reminded me of Kenna, her fierce eyes splashed with playfulness as she had conjured sparks to heat up my room service food. The gold reminded me of Selene’s star necklace, pulsating and glowing hot against her throat. When I had asked if it hurt, she had said, “No. It’s white hot and ice cold all at once, like being wrapped in starlight.” I had smiled at just how wondrous it was to be within two feet of a real star.

Each memory was like a knife to my gut. The kidnappers should be here, in the harbor with Sea. After asking around town for a girl connected to the ocean, desperately fumbling through conversations with locals in sloppy Italian, I had found her. Daria. The man had smiled and said, in broken English, “It’s one form of the name Darya. In Persian, it means “sea.”” I had been so close, gone to her house that was nestled right along the sandy, sparkling coast. The door had been unlocked, footsteps leading out to the water. They had taken her.

Now, standing in an abandoned harbor, I collapsed to my knees. I had to find Earth next, I knew. And I had to get there before the kidnappers did. A light, drizzling rain began to fall in time with my melancholy heart. I could see the silhouette of a sailboat on the horizon, just a speck in the distance taking my friends, my only hope, taking everything out to sea. 

✨Selene- Starlight

Picture from Motion Array

Glowing hazel eyes shone down on me, lit with some furious fire. I looked around the dreamscape, taking in the clouds and starry night sky above me, the cascading golden gown I had worn that night in the dream. Everything was the perfect image of when I had first been reunited with her. The pavilion and my throne, studded with colorful planets and constellations delicately etched into the frame. The strappy silver heels on my toes and glowing gold wreath of stars sitting queen-like atop my head. Everything was the same. But this time, Artemis’s hazel eyes weren’t alight with joy. They were alight with fury.

“Artemis? Why did you bring me here?” My voice echoed across the clouds, rolling away in waves of echoes until it faded away into the dusk. She put a pale hand on my shoulder, gripping it fiercely. 

“Selene. Do you know what you are doing? Assembling the Elemental goddesses? Trying to overthrow the original gods and goddesses?” Her silvery voice cracked, and she trailed her fingers down my collar bone, where my star necklace pulsated and thrummed in time with my heart. The one thing I loved most in the world. A gift from Artemis. I flung a hand up protectively, clasping the chain and the glass orb in my fingers.

“You know that I’m doing the right thing, don’t you? The Olympians are corrupt! They cause earthquakes and hurricanes over silly spats, whip up tornados every day. Smite innocents for fun! Immortality has made them heartless. Can’t you see?”
“You fool. How could you turn your back on me, your best friend?” Artemis seethed, the pain of my betrayal glittering fiercely in her luminous eyes. There was no reasoning with her, I knew it. I moved to walk away, and she lunged for me, auburn hair whipping in the breeze. I shrieked as she yanked my necklace off. The chain snapped. My heart sank.

“NO! My star!” I cried, tears spilling out in torrents. The chain hung limp in her dainty fingers, trembling as her hand quaked. The star glowed and thrummed inside its glass orb, bursting with light like a distress signal. Flashing gold, shuddering and shining white hot. Crying out for me, to rest on my neck and glitter like it always had.

“Why,” I heaved, staggering forward to meet her eye to eye, “do you stand with the Olympians? Join me. Us. Help us get away from these kidnappers on Earth. Please.” She laughed, eyes glimmering with an inhuman rage. Cold. Merciless. 

“I sent them, Selene. The Elementals were cast down to Earth for a reason. You are immature teenagers, reckless, just humans with silly gifts.” She paused, running a finger over the necklace like she had years ago when she had given it to me. Her hands weren’t gentle like they had been. They were rippling with power, fingers tensed to crush the fragile glass.

“If Heaven wanted you to rule, you would be here. But you are nothing more than Mira Casse. You can never be Selene. Never.” I lunged for her and she deftly side-stepped, sending me sprawling face first into the clouds. By the time I turned to face her, cottony tufts clinging to my hair, I knew it was too late. Artemis, my best friend, the gentle, confident huntress looked me right in the eyes. And crushed to orb. 

My scream was lost in the roar as the star burst into a supernova, a blinding white light exploding into the dusk. 

*********************

The dream fell away and I lurched upright, clawing at my throat. Blood soaked my hands, my hair dripped crimson. But none of that mattered. What mattered was that my necklace was gone, and in its place was nothing but pale skin and a tiny, star shaped scar. I couldn’t breath. I was naked without it.

Surveying the deck through tear-blurred eyes, I saw Kenna, upright and howling curse words like a banshee, thrashing against her bonds. She was barely recognizable, a mess of dark brown hair and blood stained skin. When she saw me she paused for a millisecond before yanking her wrists apart, shrieking at the top of her lungs. The whole ship was a mess of blood, screams ringing out across the water as the Positano shore faded away in the distance. The kidnappers stood on the bow, talking calmly amongst themselves. Artemis’s mercenaries. What a mess. How could you, Artemis? 

I brought the rope to my teeth, chewing at them to no avail. The kidnappers didn’t even flinch as Kenna wailed on and I joined her, cursing the gods, shrieking Artemis’s name until my throat tore. They stayed calm, discussing routes and the weather, unaffected; Not even a reaction anymore- Kenna must have been going at this for a while. 

I smiled sadly. I’d grown fond of her and her tireless personality. Then, I saw her. Another girl, passed out on the deck with a rag in her mouth. She was lithe, her thin form hugged by a black bathing suit. Just a girl, about my age with sunkissed skin and incredibly wavy black hair. Blood flowed like a river from her abdomen, gushing out and filling the air with the metallic tang of blood. The wound was ugly, a mass of torn flesh. Sea. It must be sea. 

I put my head in my hands (as best as I could with bound wrists.) They have her. Storm was too late. There was hope yet. Talia could find Earth in time, I knew it. She could find the courage, and in the meantime Kenna and I would come up with a plan. With something. Hope usually flew in on swift wings like an angel or a shooting star. This time, it was a fight to keep it alive. I sighed, looking at Sea’s bloody chest rising and falling with ragged breaths. Too late.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! Storm 2- In Search of Sea

Positano, Italy. Image from Goway Travel

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. 

“Kenna!” Silence.

“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.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! Storm ⚡🌀

Image from KOMO

“Get out!” His angry voice bellowed through the room, echoing off the austere walls. The world blurred as tears brimmed and swirled in my eyes, my vision a haze of the angry red of my father’s face and the blank white walls.

“I’m sorry! Please, don’t make me go!” The words came out in a jumbled slur, cut in by gasps of fear. Here I was, begging for mercy, standing hunched and frail before him. Everything was clear for a split second, the blurry clouds giving way to a focus so intense my head throbbed. Every smell, every sight, every texture was amplified a thousand times, like looking through a microscope on full power. The rank stench of beer on his breath, the fury that reddened his face so deeply it was almost purple, flushing away the creamy white paleness of his skin, the mini leaf-cyclones swirling on the lawn. I could feel it in my bones. A storm was coming. His green eyes looked like shattered glass in the lights, a fractured soul hidden beneath a cloud of alcohol and pain.

I barely had time to register his hand coming towards my face. A blur of fingers flying and my own swirling blond hair whipping past. I hardly remember the actual moment his hand connected with my cheek, slapping me back so hard I collapsed. The first thing I recall is the raw stinging pain that rocketed through my face, sending reverberations down my spine. Falling backwards, I crumpled to the floor, lying helplessly like a torn up rag doll.

Sobs racked my chest, and I choked out the words,

“I’m so sorry, Dad! Please, I swear! I’ll never go out without your permission again. I’ll never see him again, I promise. Just don’t make me go.” Dark anger and pain eddied and swirled, muddying my thoughts. All I could think about was just how much I hated my father… and just how much I loved him. This was the man that had held my hand in the aquarium, rattling off facts about the fish and smiling as I squealed in delight. The man clapping lovingly in the audience as I stood in the shining lights at my choir concert, beaming with pride. But the same hands that had cheered me on that winter night had slapped me a thousand times over in drunken rage.

Fury roiled hot in my blood, but I was so weary. Tired of him. Tired of the constant throbbing in my cheeks. Tired of being made fun of at school, tired of the constant questions about the chain of dark bruises that blossomed along my face. Tired of life. Distantly, I noticed a pitter-pattering of rain against the huge picture window, the little rivulets streaming down the glass. I had always loved the rain, the smell after a thunderstorm and the tappity-tap of drops hitting the roof. I couldn’t enjoy it now, not with the despair seeping in like a dark cloud rumbling over a blue sky.

Every fiber of my body wanted to do what he was saying, to leave and never come back. But here I was, weak on the floor and begging for mercy. Begging to stay in the one place I didn’t want to be. You’re too weak… my mind whispered, and I was infuriated with myself, at just how helpless I was. I clenched my fists so tight my knuckles went white. Thunder clapped, turning the sky an angry blue-gray that was the same shade as my mother’s eyes.

“You pathetic brat!” He laughed, a cruel sound like a feral dog ripping into a harmless hare. “Get out! You think you can disobey me, go on a date? With some boy? As if anyone could ever love you.” My heart convulsed; the storm brewing outside whipped violently with each ragged breath I took.

Tear strewn, covered in bruises, I looked past him to my mother standing in the arched doorway glaring at me. Giving her an anguished stare, I longed for her to wipe that cold facade away, to run to me and tell me “no.” That she did love me. That she didn’t agree with Dad. That I wasn’t just Talia Thorn, a rich pretty-princess blond with daddy issues that was only good for the diamonds around her neck. I wanted her to protest. I wanted… I wanted her to love me.

We locked eyes, hers beady gray and mine a large, vibrant blue. The wind quieted for a moment, as though I was the storm and the world was holding its breath. But she didn’t protest. And as she turned away, she pulled out… no. A bottle of whiskey. My breath hitched. And all hell broke loose.

All my bottled up anger and desperation unleashed, and the swirling vortex of wind hurtled over the house! Gusts of ferocious air plastered leaves to the window and hell descended from heaven. The sky opened up, black clouds taking over the last blue patches of sky like the devil’s chariot riding through the world, turning blacker and darker with my rising fury. Rain pelted the lawn viciously, pounding harder and harder with my rising despair.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, a voice whispered, You’re the storm! You’re Talia Thorn, with a shock of blond hair like lightning that is ruffled and wild as the wind, with sky-blue eyes shaped like raindrops. You! Are! The! Storm!

As my Dad struck me again, grabbing me by the scruff of the neck, lightning struck white-hot outside the window. Thunder beat in tune to my racing heart, rumbling and growling, a beast uncaged. My heart throbbed as he shoved me up against the door, pinning me down and fumbling drunkenly for his keys. But he didn’t need them. The grand mahogany door flew off its hinges, tossed violently across the rolling yard as if it were a plastic bag and not a mass of heavy, expensive wood.

My mother, a frail blond woman, had even joined the fight to drag me out the hole in the wall. Even as every heirloom and antique we own is being sucked out of the house, they still want to get rid of me. To them, I’m just a mistake, a roadblock on their path to blissful, mindless drinking. Tears burned in my eyes; my heart throbbed. But I held on. It was as though the wind was pushing me back into our manor while still sucking everything else out.

Dad struggled and groaned under my weight, his purpling face strained. The green eyes I knew so well were narrowed with hatred and clouded with alcohol.

In that moment, I wanted nothing more than death. To have everything, everyone disappear in a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder. My stupid necklaces, all the sapphire earrings that had only been half-hearted attempts to make up for drunken attacks. My parents, flying away and being battered around like they battered me, dying in a bar the same way they lived: drunk, angry, and not caring about their own daughter. Even me. The girl that never fit in, that was dressed in the finest clothes so that the elegant satin covered the bruises. Gone. Never having to suffer another day. It seemed almost like a fantasy as the storm ripped through the house… my storm.

I closed my eyes as lightning struck the house, the roof collapsing and rubble raining from the sky. The last thing I saw was blinding white light and my father’s shocked green eyes staring off into the abyss. Then everything went black.

***********************

“Who is she?” A feminine voice called out into the darkness. It was a passionate, edging-on-sultry voice, one where the words were so intense they came out too fast. Was I dead? Visions of the lightning strike and the storm flickered weakly in my mind as I struggled to remember.

“This must be Storm. The third element already! Heaven must be calling them to us one by one, somehow.  You are Embers, Kenna, I am Starlight. This simply must be Storm. Why else would the whole world be taken over by clouds and lightning rain down from the heavens? Why else would some random girl appear in a flash of light?” Another feminine voice said. This one was high and clear, and sounded regal but not haughty. It was the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard. I yearned to see what she looked like, but my eyelids felt like weights. I’m dead. Is this heaven, or hell? Everything was dark, there was no angels except the beautiful voices.

“The Elements. You keep talking about those as if I understand a word you say,” the first girl said. I felt her warm fingers on my throat near my pulse point, and I twitched. She jerked her hand away abruptly, but stayed silent, lightly pressing fingers to my neck again. This time, I lay still, pretending to sleep.

“I know it’s confusing, Kenna. But we’re the lost goddesses! You are fire. I am starlight. And she must be storm.” The regal one paused. Her voice was taut with annoyed tension, like a cord about to snap. I needed to see this.

With all my power, I forced my eyes open. Staring down at me were two teenage girls. One was tan, with coal black eyes and wavy tendrils of dark brown that tickled my forehead. She smiled, an expression that lit up her whole face. The other was a beautiful girl, wreathed in a halo of golden light. Everything about her radiated night sky: the cascading black hair flecked with gold, starry midnight blue eyes, creamy moon-dust skin, and a gleaming silver dress. She smiled serenely, angelic voice flowing over my ears like lovely flute music.

“Hello, Storm. You are the third elemental goddess. Are you willing to join the rebel cause and fight back against the corrupt gods of Olympus?”

I blinked, bewildered. Was I… in the desert? Flailing in the sand, I sat up. The dark haired one laughed: she had been the one with a passionate, sultry tone.

“C’mon, Selene! I know you haven’t been in the human world for a while but… well, I was called to join the–well, whatever we are, in my most pivotal, stressful moment. So take it easy.” The moon girl, Selene, shrugged apologetically.

“No… it’s okay… I mean, I just,” my voice broke, thinking back to my father and the storm. “I’m sorry. My name is Talia Thorn.” I tried to stand and collapsed back, my cheeks reddening in embarrassment. The sultry one, who I assumed was Kenna, helped me up.

“Talia. Do you know what your name means?” Selene asked sweetly, her midnight eyes soft. Everything about her screamed “warrior queen,” the regal air and the lithe form, the silver wreath on her head that was threaded with colorful planets and the gleaming silver knife at her belt. Yet somehow, she still managed to seem like a normal teenage girl, straight out of high school.

“Um… no?” I asked. This must be a dream… I’m in heaven. I must be dead, I must be…

“It means ‘rain from heaven.’” Selene said softly. My breath hitched. As I stood under the cooking sun, the only thing I could think was:

You are the storm. You are more than a rich girl with daddy issues. You have always been more because of the storm inside. You are the storm.

I couldn’t deny it. There was nothing logical about it, and yet all made sense, a thousand shattered shards of glass glued neatly together. How it always seemed to rain when I was sad, thunder when I got angry. How I was somehow never wet after a rainstorm, the drops seeming to fall in a perfect circle around me. My shock of blonde hair like lightning and striking blue eyes, clear as a raindrop and vibrant as a summer sky. In that moment, standing in a desert with two girls I had never met, I felt like I knew myself more than I ever had.

My name is Talia Thorn, and I am the rain from heaven. I am the storm.