The Ballads of the Wind

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Start your story with a metaphor about human nature.... view prompt


Fiction Speculative Contemporary

The ground shakes but not in a pretentious way. She isn't bitter; she's not mad at any one person. There is no need to feel angry when you are already dying. What's the point? Ending your time while thinking of the last person that hurt you. The ego that gives them, even if they're dying too. Her demeanor is soft, but her builders are vicious. The ocean, the land, the rivers, the sand. All break their silence, and in doing so, hurt each other. She'll watch as her creations tear it all apart. Nothing we could do, "where would we even start?"

Nothing can be done when no one wants to change. Nothing can be done when someone says the problem is common, natural, and discreet. But it can. It could have, anyway. We can go back and try again. Still, we'd of learned infrequently. Even if we knew what we faced before we were sent back for another round, we'd convince ourselves that evil could not strike twice. It's ironic calling someone evil when you have been the one torturing them endlessly. Day after day, we humiliate and punish her for merely being. We own her; she belongs to us because she can not speak. We can do what we want because who will stop us? 

We can destroy an anthill because there is no consequence. We fear no vengeful ant. A thousand ants are no match for one hose. We may expect nothing from the ground, but the ants' creator will have the last laugh, even in her demise.  

Felicity releases her tight grip from the sycamore and falls to the shaking ground. Her notebook flies away as if destined to transport the final word to the last decider. If only Felicity had more time if only her creator could place a hold on her destruction. The tree moves forcefully, the roots coming out inch by inch. Felicity feels feeble, though she's surprised to find she feels anything. She looks up at the suicidal tree, which is beginning to lean towards Felicity. Her exhaustion won't allow her to move from danger; just as well, there are hundreds of trees encompassing the young woman, hanging on despite its numbered days. Felicity wills herself to begin rolling right at the very moment the tree comes crashing down. She screams at the 30-foot tree as it falls with little regard for the panicked human. Her roll picks up speed and just barely evades being crushed. The tree strikes against the ground, making a frightening noise in the sea of ominous sounds. Joining the variable stars exploding in the sky and onto land, the city buildings a mile away collapsing to the pavement. How much longer will this last? Felicity stares at the sky, red and furious. She hates the smugness of its demeanor. How confident and sure it is of itself. 

The wind howls through Felicity and makes a screeching sound that can not be ignored. Her fingers fork into the grass and dirt, trying to hold on while nature sings her 11 o'clock number. Felicity covers her ears with her shoulders, pressing them against her creator's wondrous creation. Her fingers, covered in mud, are now free from the ground, and therefore, free from stillness. Felicity rolls violently across the forest, hitting toppling trees and piles of leaves. Her hands try to lessen the impact and protect her face. Branches stab at her and hit her cheeks. She yelps, but against the wind's music, she may as well have said nothing. Thus begins the end for Felicity. She hangs onto a tree when she lands high on the hill overlooking the city. In the brief moment the wind stops its ballad, Felicity looks out to her old life. What used to be full of skyscrapers and flare is now filled with debris and fire. Collapsed buildings turn into fireplaces for giants, and parks turn into the wood. As the ballad of the wind picks up instruments, it's itching to bring Felicity with her. At first, Felicity fights it, holds on with all her strength. But as she looks out at her helpless home, she wonders what she's even holding onto. To see more death or to die more painfully? What we all thought was a distant potentiality is now a lugubrious reality. 

She looks at her right hand clutching the soon-to-be-dead tree, takes a breath, and releases her grip. She submits herself to Her device and lets nature gobble her up.

"It's unbelievable," Clara lets out a sigh as she puts the coffee pot back on the hotplate. 

"Two weeks of gloomy clouds and rain. It's infuriating". Clara groans and grabs a seat beside Felicity, who's filling out a crossword puzzle from an old New Yorker magazine. 

"Eh, what can you do?" She asks with little interest. 

Clara huffs, "I tell you what, if this keeps up I'm moving out of this exhausting town." 

Felicity breaths out of her nose and looks up at Clara without moving her head. 

"Clara, city council didn't put this weather into legislation," she says with a smirk. 

"I know that! But it's gotta be better anywhere else, right?" 

Felicity looks to the side and considers her following statement. She debates the impact her hypothesis would have on Clara.

So she chooses to agree, "right," she replies with a poor attempt at a reassuring smile. 

What Felicity knows, however, is that Clara will not be leaving this town. Though not because of logistics or change of mind. But because there won't be any point. It will all be the same. Manhattan will host the same fiery clouds as Seattle. Tampa Bay will light up from the same type of fire as Ontario. 

Felicity feels it when she walks outside and slowly chokes on the air. She sees the growing amount of dead bodies of homeless people on her commute to work. New York officials will say it's the heat or an overdose. Most will believe them while still yelling for them to do better. Yet Felicity sees through their efforts for them to remain calm. She notices how billionaires have begun constructing barriers and air filters on their mansions. Or how actors' Twitter accounts have vanished and have now dropped out of future movies and television engagements. The public figures it's a strike for noble causes. Felicity knows those people would never leave the spotlight willingly. She knows they're preparing for what comes next. Well, they're making other's prepare for them. 

It's when the clouds turn red that the notifications begin to report. 

Weather watch: unhealthy air alerts spread across the U.S from this record-breaking heat. Air-related illness and death are reported across the country. Citizens are instructed to remain indoors as much as possible and to wear facemasks when outdoors. U.S President reports the air quality is set to improve after the heatwave.

It never did improve. The clouds that smothered the sky were not the result of nature but the result of selfishness. 

Americans across the country began to suspect the reality, though they managed to convince each other it was a temporary inconvenience. 

 Clara puts the cream back in the refrigerator, grabs her mug, and takes a sip of the burned drink. She grunts and says, "I swear, there is nothing worse than burnt coffee."

  Felicity looks out the window and see's hell inside the dark clouds. She could swear it was a fire. The sky begins to open up, clouds disperse rapidly from each side, leaving a hairline of the sky. Only the sky is not blue but a dark red and orange. 

Heat absorbs the room instantly, and Felicity comes to realize this may be it. 

Clara sighs, "they have GOT to fix this air conditioning," as she waves a paper plate across her face.

Felicity sees objects shooting into the sky. She wishes it was only war. And in a way, it is. She walks to the window and closes the blinds. A few more minutes of ignorance is what she craves. Her desire to be as clueless as Clara, to believe anything that gives her zero responsibility. 

Felicity takes a deep breath as Clara adds sugar to her coffee. 

Feeling an inevitable end, Felicity thinks to do only what she has the power to do, pretend. Play the innocent and ignorant. Be insolent and impotent. Pretend there is no end. Hold that Earth will not scold. Believe you can pull off naive. Be angry when you die and ask the world 'why?' 

Felicity breaths as best she can. She grabs her plastic bottle of Diet Coke and takes a big sip. Her last, it will be. The heat gets worse, the noises outside are weary. The wind is haunting and irregular. For a moment, the floor shakes in the break room. Clara looks down and tells Felicity, "I don't know why they don't just do construction on Saturdays." 

Felicity shrugs, completely ignoring what Clara had to say. She takes another large gulp of her Diet Coke. 

"You know, you're really not supposed to use plastic anymore," Clara snides, looking almost annoyed.

It'd be a fine thing to critique if you didn't work for Chevron. 

Before Felicity thinks about replying, a sudden rumble of the floor begins to grow stronger. Glasses on the counter start to shake. Clara holds onto the counter, furious at the construction workers. 

Felicity decides she would hate to die in the office of the sinners. She is one, of course. But maybe her silent disapproval will give her amnesty. 

She sits up from her chair and begins to walk through the shaking room. 

"You should leave the building with me," Felicity tells Clara. No one should have to die that way. 

"It's just some construction babes," Clara tells her with a hint of irritation. 

Felicity doesn't object; she just grabs her purse and walks out. 

The stairs are across the break room. She expects a crowded stairwell, but instead, Felicity's met with just herself. 

She races down the stairs as the grown growls. She stops herself from falling several times, holding onto the fragile handle for dear life. Though the goal is only to have a better end. 

She get's to the main floor, where the front desk worker stays submissive to his char. 

"Tony, you should leave the building, it's going to fall." She can barely convince herself to find the point. 

"They told me to stay, Felicity," responds Anthony. 

She was going to ask by who, but she knows it's the executives in space, riding it out. 

She hears a loud noise from above, almost unbearable. It's happening. She doesn't yell for Tony; she just runs out. 

She sprints for her life, for her death, for her identity. She hears the building being returned to its original landlord. She doesn't look back; there is really no use. 

Felicity lays on the grass in the park. She breaths and cries as she looks for her old office building, though only dust and debris fill the air. Felicity gets up and walks further out of the city and into the park. Alone with only her thoughts, Felicity grabs a notebook and a pencil from her purse. As the winds sing and the ground shakes, she writes its lament.  

The Ballads of the Wind - Felicity Von Brandt

Play the innocent and ignorant. 

Be insolent and impotent. 

Pretend that there is no end. 

Hold that Earth will not scold. 

Believe that you can pull off naive. 

Be angry when you die 

then ask the world, 'why?' 

The ground shakes but not in a conspicuous way.

She's not bitter, not any more than yesterday.

Why be angry when you're already dying?

Ceasing your time while they continue lying.

Concluding while recalling the person that hurt you

 The ego that gives them, even when they're dying too.  

July 16, 2021 21:46

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