The small town of Aville was not used to strangers. Being placed so down south, away from most villages and towns. Most people wouldn’t even be able to cross the minefield of heat before coming to this windy town.
It was always windy. Storms were horrid and did so much damage to property that some people had to go underground to the shelters, strategically placed there just for safety. Aville was located in between a very cold place, and a very hot place. The uneven heating resulted in an extremely windy forecast. All. The. Time.
Cora and Aria Somerton did enjoy the wind most of the time. They joked about how the wind could sweep them away and that they would never come back. Their favourite thing to do was fly their kites. They would often have competitions, in which Aria would always win, having more energy and being constantly excited by the way the kite would catch the wind. Sometimes it carried her hovering off the ground slightly. Those moments were when her mom would have to come outside and pull her down.
One day, however, it was not very windy at all. Nobody was used to this. Usually one would not be able to wear their hair down if they had long hair. Today, however, it was so calm that, even if you had stringy hair that got in the way, you wouldn’t have to wear a hair tie.
Aria first pointed this out one morning as she was getting up and getting ready to go upstairs to eat breakfast. Since it was very windy and storms were ferocious, it was better safe than sorry to sleep downstairs. She ran to her twin sister’s bed and pulled off the cover, jumped on top of her, and began to shout,”It’s not windy! God finally heard us! He finally made it so it isn’t windy!”
Cora rolled over slightly in Aria’s direction. She smiled at Aria since her face always seemed to be in a permanent smile. That just made it all the more contagious. Cora hopped off the bed and did a couple of exaggerated stretches and yawns like she always did every morning. She said it warmed up the muscles better.
“Let me see.” Aria ran to the window over top of their dresser, stepped on a little footstool, and lifted herself onto the dresser. She placed her hands on the window(which her mom would have had a fit over), and squinted out the window. She slowly turns her head toward her sister, jaw on the floor, and screams.
“Wow! You’re right! We have to tell mom and dad!
The two run around the room as Aria frantically changes and brushes her hair, but quickly becomes frustrated that she can’t get the tangles out. She leaves the brush and decides to run to their parent’s room. They slam the door open and begin to shout for their parents to get up.
“IT’S NOT WINDY! IT'S NOT WINDY!”
Their parents groggily sit up, half asleep and half curious at what the two girls are shouting. Their dad gets up and pulls the blinds open. The trees that are permanently in a more downward direction, usually tossed to and fro by the wind, are completely still, save a couple of leaves.
Their dad is equally shocked, as well as their mom. They all run up the stairs and quickly put on their shoes. The twin’s dad hastily opens the door to reveal a peace so clear, so still and quiet. That they could hear their own breathing.
“It’s.. so quiet..” Cora points out.”Look,” she points to people standing outside their houses.”People are coming out of their houses, too”
“What a strange sight this is,” their father points out.”
“I just.. Don’t understand it..” their mother begins,”Why now does the wind stop?”
Everyone is quiet for a moment. They all are still taking in what is happening. Then suddenly, they all hear a low grumble. They all look down in Aria’s direction. Aria looks up with a smile,”I’m hungry, mom.”
They laugh and head inside the house.
Later on, Aria and Cora go outside to enjoy the, well, un-windiness. The two kicked a soccer ball around and twirled around in their skirts(which their mom let them wear since it wasn’t windy) and laughed and were full of joy.
About an hour into playing, the children noticed a man walking across the street to their house. He looked young, but not as old as their dad. He wasn’t dressed very nicely, and he had a scraggly beard. He looked homeless at first glance, and he was walking towards them.
“Hello there, children,” he began,”Beautiful day, yes?”
The two didn’t know what to do. They were not allowed to talk to strangers, especially not such a strange looking one. He continued to approach them.
“I know, I look pretty silly, huh? Well, I was just passing through and was wondering if you children had some lodgings that I could occupy for the night.”
Aria leaned over to her sister. She whispered quite loudly,”What’s a lodging?''
“Ah! I apologize. I mean do you know anywhere I could stay for the night? I am quite hungry and, as you can see, need a bath, or two.”
Aria looked at Cora with big eyes. Aria was about to tell him something, but Cora slapped her hand over her sister’s mouth.”We aren’t supposed to talk to strangers.” she said sternly, trying to sound as tough as she could without revealing the twinge of fear deep within her.
“Haha..I see that you are the responsible type. You want to protect your little sister, yes?”
Cora began to say something when Aria spit out,”I’ll ask my mom!”
“Excellent! I knew that you would not disappoint. Thank you very, very much.”
“You’re welcome!” Aria then ran back to the house as fast as she could and Cora followed. Aria shouted for their mom. When she emerged, covered with paint due to renovations that were being made on the top floor, she asked why the girls were so out of breath.
“Man..wants..to..sleep..here..homeless..dirty..needs a bath..two baths..” Aria managed to say.
Their mom put down the bucket of paint in her hand and began to question the girls.”A stranger approached you and asked you if he could stay with us for the night?”
“Well..” began Aria.
“Actually, Aria just told him that he could stay here. I tried to tell him no but.. I don’t know. There was..something...”
Their mom looks them both up and down, eyeing them suspiciously.”I’ll get your father to have a talk with him. This town doesn’t really ever get outsiders. He could be a runaway.”
Aria jumps up and down in excitement. Their mom goes to the next room with their dad. They both hear conversation between the two for a second. Their dad seems very opposed to it.
They hear footsteps as their dad emerges from the hallway.
“Haven’t I told you not to talk to strangers. He could ha-”
“But he was nice! He didn’t even come any closer than the sidewalk, and he had to almost yell to talk to us!” Aria objected, Cora slightly embaressed and feeling a bit dumb.
Their dad sighed. He then walked up to the window and looked out. He looked at Aria, then back out the window, still contemplating what to say. Finally, he said reluctantly,”I’ll see if there’s anything we can do for him. We may be able to have him over for a meal, but that’s all. If I feel that we should take him in for the night, then we will . Does that seem fair, Aria?”
Aria put her finger on her chin and tilted her head up, then said,”Okay, that seems like a fair contract.”
Aria and Cora’s dad cleaned himself up a bit before going out to talk to the man. He soon went out and began to talk to him. The girls waited anxiously for him to come back. They both watched the door until, finally, after what seemed like hours, they heard the familiar click of the door. They both heard two voices, which meant..
“Dad?” Cora began,”You changed your mind?”
“Yes, he’s going to stay here for the night, and we’re going to share a meal with him!”
Cora and Aria look at eachother, dumb founded that their their dad actually changed his mind.
“Yay! I’m so happy!” Aria runs up and hugs the man, who in return hugs her back.
“Haha, looks like I found the right family to spend the night with.”
“I’ll give you a tour!” Aria grabs his hand and leads him down all the hallways, incessantly babbling while showing him everything. Her mom begins to get the spare room ready while Cora reads a book outside in her and Aria’s playhouse. After about 15 minutes, Aria comes back, the man having an incredible amount of patience for her since she barely even let him get a word in.
Aria runs back, out of breath from walking quickly through the house and talking the whole time.
“And that..is our..house!”
“Very nice.” the man says with a smile,”I especially loved your stories. I love listening to stories.”
“Really? I have lots more. Like, the time dad put a whole through the wall re-watching some old football games!”
“I’d prefer if you didn’t talk about that right in front of me!” their dad shouts from the other room, followed by laughter from their mom.
“Hey, where did Cora go?” Aria asked, looking up at the man, still tightly holding his hand.
“She’s outside, if I’m not mistaken. Reading, I think.”
Aria shakes her head in disapproval.” Typical, Cora. Trying to escape a social interaction by hiding. Mister, can you go talk to her, please?”
The man looks down at her again with that same smile,”What if she wants to be left alone? I wouldn’t want to upset her.”
“Please, Mister. Please!”
The man contemplates, looking down at Aria again.”I suppose I could try.”
“Yay! I can never talk to her when she’s mad. Please Mister, make her better”
“How do you know that she’s mad?” he asked.
“Because when she’s mad, she locks herself away until she calms down. I don’t think she likes you very much, Mister.”
He laughs. His laugh fills Aria with joy.”I suppose I have no choice now, do I?”
The man walks outside, the little wind that is present comes to a sudden stop. He walks to the playhouse and looks up. Then he says ,”Beautiful day to read outside, yes?”
Cora looks down, then rolls her eyes and goes back to reading, completely ignoring the man.
The man chuckles, then sits down in the grass beside the tree that the playhouse was built upon, and waits.
A half hour passed before the man was called back inside, since Aria was growing impatient
“I’ll be right there!” he called,”Can you hold on for a couple of minutes?”
“Okay!!” shouted Aria from the upstairs window.”I like being up here! I was never allowed to on really windy days, tho!” Aria gets distracted and runs away from the window.
The man got up and headed toward a sandbox located near a wall of bushes, which keeps most of the wind out of the way so that the girls could play, even on very windy days. He grabbed a small purple plastic shovel and began to dig. A moment later, he found a bright yellow marble.
“Ah, there you were.” He then puts the marble on the ground beside the ladder to the playhouse, and goes inside the house.
After a couple of minutes, Cora looks down to see the sun reflecting the small, glass ball. She gasped, and began to climb down the ladder as fast as she could. Without hesitation, she picked it up and put it in the pocket of her sweater.
“He knew,” she whispered.
As Cora entered the house, she could hear talking and conversation over a light meal. A couple of sandwich slices were placed aside along with a glass of cranberry juice. She could see that the man’s dirty old hoodie and jeans were replaced with brand new jeans and a nice shirt with a light sweater.
They must have thought I’d be hungry. I guess I’ll just grab it quickly and bring it back to eat at the tree house.
Cora quickly walked up to the table and snatched up her meal. Just as she turned to leave, her dad asked her,”Cora, why didn’t you come inside when we called you?”
Cora stopped short.”I..uh. I was reading. I guess I was caught up in the book, haha.” Cora headed back outside, the man looked sadly as she left.
Later that day in the evening, the family decided to sleep upstairs, where all their main bedrooms were. Aria led their special guest to his room, and stayed with him for a long while after hours. He told her story after story, and each one was more engrossing than the next. After a couple hours, however, Aria began to fall asleep.
The man left the room and walked down the hall, where Cora’s room was located. He lightly knocked on the door.”Hello? May I come in, Aria?”
There was a long pause. Finally, Cora replied,”Sure.”
He turned the knob and stood at the doorway.”Just wanted to say goodnight to everyone before I go to bed.”
“Oh, okay. Goodnight then.”
He begins to close the door, then suddenly, Cora says,”How did you know?”
‘How did I know? What do you mean?”
Cora paused again. She looked up, tears in her eyes.”The marble. How did you know?”
He smiled that smile of his, but it was more of a sad smile.”I just..know.”
Cora dug around in her drawer.”This marble,” she said,``belonged to my big sister. She died. Drowned. Mom and dad said I shouldn’t be old enough to remember, but I remember. I have a photographic memory. I know what I saw. I saw her die. I watched as my parents desperately tried to get her out-”
Cora dropped the marble on the floor. It rolled to the man. He picked it up.”I know it hurts” he began.”You watched as your sister was dragged into the currents. You saw her lose grip. I know.”
Cora sobbs. She grabbed tightly to the blanket on her bed as the man took her in his arms. She grabs hold of him and instantly feels comfort and love and nothing like she’s ever felt before.
He held her until she stopped crying.”I..I’m sorry. It’s just..so hard. My parents don’t understand. No one understands. No one knows the pain..”
He looked her in the eyes. She felt pierced by his gaze. This is the first time she had made eye contact with him. His eyes are kind. Overwhelming. For some reason at that moment, Cora thought of all the bad things that she had done in her life. They drag her down.
Suddenly, the man got up, snapped Cora out of her thoughts.
“Listen. You are a very smart and talented girl. Nothing will ever get in your way that God will not be able to get you through. He loves you so much.”
“Yeah,” she said, wiping her eyes,”mom says that all the time. So does dad. We do devotions every day. We didn’t today, though, because you’re here.”
“Haha, yes I suppose that would be a problem.”
He heads for the door. Suddenly, Cora asked,”Hey, what’s your name?”
He stops, turns around, and winks. This puzzled Cora, but she shrugged it off.
The next morning, Cora was awakened by a loud scream. She jutted up, terrified and breaking a sweat. Aria ran into her room and jumped on her bed. Cora saw tears in her eyes.”He’s gone!”
Cora’s face relaxed slightly, but then she realized what her sister just said.”Wait, what?”
Aria handed her a note. She began to read it, tears forming in her own eyes.”No way..”
“Yeah.. he left us presents, tho. I got a drawing of myself. I didn’t know he could draw so well. It looks so realistic. Yours is downstairs.”
Cora got up without hesitation and bolted down the stairwell. He left me something. I wonder what it is. I wanna know so bad.
After finally getting down the stairs, she headed to the kitchen. Where could it be-
“It’s at the counter!” shouted Aria, coming down the stairs after her.
Cora reached the counter. There’s an envelope on the counter. She grabbed it and ripped it open. She reached into it and pulled out two pieces of paper. The first was a letter. She began to read it.
I enjoyed our talk yesterday evening. I’m sure you are curious as to why I decided to come to your house instead of anyone else’s. It’s because I had a mission from my Father. He sent me to help you. I have fulfilled my purpose at your home. I will now go to the next home. Peace be unto you.
Cora was left more curious than ever as to what the man meant by,”I have fulfilled my purpose at your home.” What baffled her most was the picture that came along with it.
The drawing was detailed. Far more detailed than Cora had ever imagined could be done by human hands. The drawing itself was drawn with a simple pen. It was a drawing of a girl, about 11 years of age. Cora didn’t recognize her at first, but what she remembered made her almost drop it in shock.
It was..her sister.
Except, there were no pictures of her sister in the house.
“Then how did he know?”
Soon after the man left, the wind came back.