If only a camera could capture what a soul can. The campfire's blooming hues spill color over our faces, providing the only light we receive in the velvety night. The adults are sitting around a rickety, wooden bench near the tents, tangled up in a never-ending game of Uno Flip. I watch as the younger kids giggle amongst themselves, glad that our parents haven't noticed how time's racing ahead. A half-eaten large pizza is calling my name, but it's sitting too close to the adults for me to swing by without announcing my presence.
I don't know whose Minnie Mouse blanket is wrapped around my shoulders, but I'm thankful that somebody was kind enough to share. The summer blessed us with a light, windy breeze, which ruffled my hair until I had enough of trying to adjust it.
"Kae!" Celia's whisper-yelled, making spit fly to the tip of my nose.
My face scrunched up in disgust. Debating whether to rub my nose against the blanket or my sleeve, I gestured for Celia to continue.
"I'm bored and sleepy."
"Go sleep in your tent then, Cels," My sleeve had a wet dot right beneath the stitching, a gift from a six-year-old diva.
Jaime, Corrie, and Ezra were gazing at us tenderly, wondering what was significant enough to halt their conversation on why Iron Man was secretly alive, living in a dimension where he didn't die in Endgame. Apparently, he divorced Pepper and married Bruce, so that the Hulk didn't feel lonely. Not bad, honestly. Marvel should consider the idea.
"No! You're an old person, you should know more than that. Tell us something cool."
In the warm embrace of the night, I hid my desire to slap her, pinching the thought away and letting it fly to the edge of my mind, not leaving me completely, but far enough to keep me in my senses.
Jamie chirped blissfully, "Yeah, totally! You're twelve. Twelve-year-olds should know tons of stories."
Nods of agreement came from the other three living tornadoes.
I frowned, wondering if I should recite a part of The Conjuring to psyche them out. The tornadoes might tell their parents, though. It would just be a loss for me. I'll just stick with making one up as I go.
"Okay, just don't freak out when you don't understand my big-kid words."
Two eyerolls, one snicker of pity, and another stoic stare were counted before I began throwing out whatever imagination confetti I had left within the depths of my malfunctioning mind.
Thousands of years before the gods stitched the quilt of their world with color, nobody ever went to sleep. Every day, the kids played until their sweat coated them like a lousy layer of paint, and the adults worked until their arms and legs felt as though they would fall off.
Lavender. It was a rich, vivid color that danced across the sky. Yet it was the only color to adorn the sky. Days and nights of admiration flew into generations of hatred. For the time could not be told, so rest couldn't be taken.
Mornings weren't bright and warm, they were lavender. Graceful, as all things were supposed to be.
Nights weren't relaxing and serene, they were lavender. Neutral, as all things were supposed to be.
Rest had lost meaning if it ever had any, to begin with. It was a selfish act, allowing yourself the pleasure to release tension while others may suffer beneath rock and gravel. Thus, humanity soared without destination.
"This is boring!" Ezra elbowed his armrest in frustration.
I grumble a few crass words under my breath. "I'll try my best to please you, my king."
"Great! Then make it a fairytale!"
"Like Cinderella! She's the best."
"Nu-uh! Everybody knows Elsa rocks."
In the midst of red eyes and loose limbs, innocence remained in this world.
"Elodie, fetch me an aloe vera leaf from the market," a mother's rough voice hid a compassionate heart.
Said young woman had been tracing her fingers along another design she ruined on her wooden pot. "Yes, mother."
Picking up a pouch that had nonchalantly been thrown on the overgrown grass beneath her, Elodie ran to her home, brown skirt nearly catching onto a rude rock that had chosen to lay near the entrance.
The entire village had houses that mirrored each other, with wide stone entrances and three big rooms full of knick-knacks of no use. A kind distant relative of Elodie had once left her with a knife bejeweled with amethyst gemstones in rivet. Perhaps Elodie was meant to skin a deer with it. No, it was too alluring to serve for such a bland purpose.
The small fire pit blazed savagely, spitting swirls of smoke into the air. Elodie made a mental note to put it out later.
Sitting beside her mom's tiny flower garden of dahlias and peonies, blossoming beside the closed windows was a jar of silver coins. Elodie threw a fistful into her small satchel, wondering if she could stop by the sweet shop before her mother gets suspicious. Oh lords, I'm sorry for what I desire, but it's only a small bit of candy!
"Quickly!" Elodie pranced out of the house at her mother's sudden vocalization.
Calling out a goodbye as she bustled through the wooden fence, Elodie clutched her satchel a little tighter at the sight of the villagers.
Preteens were playing a fiery ball game, screaming at every tiny mistake a teammate made as if a bomb had exploded. Vendors had their stalls set up, reading books or talking amongst themselves. Carpenters strode across the pavement, wielding axes against their shoulders as if they were swordsmen. An occasional eagle swooped by the scene, rising and diving through the air as if it were the sky was its ocean.
Elodie ambled through the rush, reciting a well-versed greeting when she locked eyes with a stroller.
As she reached Zephyr Crossing, a stone bridge that marked the beginning of the market, Elodie broke out into a brisk run, sandals flopping across the bridge with every step she took.
Unsurprisingly, most of the large shops were shut down for cleaning at the moment, so there wasn't much of a crowd. Elodie made her way to the greenery outlet, where Jon, a plump, old man was counting gold and silver coins near an enchantingly long devil's ivy plant.
"Good day, sir!" Elodie greeted the man.
His eyes jumped up to her, a salesman's smile adorning his face. "Hello Elodie, an aloe vera leaf?"
With a nod, Elodie pulled three silver coins out of her satchel, placing them on the counter as Jon sliced a leaf of an aloe vera plant in the back.
Keeping her eyes on the shop as she fisted her bag, Elodie felt the cold touch of about twelve more coins.
"Here you go," Jon muttered, handing her the leaf after wrapping it in a thin cloth.
The leaf was larger than usual, given how little Elodie was paying for it. Oh well, it's not like she wanted to complain.
"Thank you," Elodie responded, quickly turning and zipping around villagers as they attempted to get their shopping done swiftly.
Sweet shop, sweet shop, Elodie could barely recall where Wonderland was even located anymore. The last time she had been there was when she was around seven. Elodie's mother had bought her a fruit dessert, the sweet, warm cake decorated in blueberries and honey.
Gotcha! Right beside Lady Lia's jewelry stand was a big shop, decorated with large jars stuffed with candy and a glass counter exhibiting a variety of cakes.
"Hi!" Elodie had a newfound enthusiasm in her tone, ready to feast in secret. The person at the stand hadn't caught her eye yet, as Elodie allowed all her silver coins to trickle onto the counter.
"Hello, what would you like, Miss?"
Miss? Wow, I'm a royal girl now! Elodie peered up at the young man at the counter in wonder.
"Uh, I don't know, it's been a while since I came here. What would you recommend?"
The man didn't seem too good with people, brown eyes widening for a split second before he cleared his throat. Peering around his own stall, he set his eyes back on her.
"The lemon-rosemary cake is my favorite."
"How much is it?" Elodie tapped her fingers on the glass counter, displaying the money she could offer.
Bending down to pick up a magnificently decorated cake, with swirls of yellow and white icing around two lemons and stray rosemary leaves in the middle.
"One piece is six silver coins," Wow, his voice is so melodic.
Yes! "Alright, I'll take two slices."
Stupid! They're pieces! Elodie mentally palm-smacked herself.
Stuffing her aloe vera leaf into the satchel, Elodie jumped on her toes as the man expertly sliced two pieces of the cake and placed them on separate plates.
"The benches are over there. Y'know, if you'll be eating them at the market," Melody Man pointed to the left of the stall, where a sprinkle of people were seated, diving into their sweet treats.
"Eros. My name is Eros."
Elodie took the plates and nodded, quickly making her way to the benches. As she passed by the stall, her eyes caught a piece of paper hanging on the side of the wall. It had the cake prices listed in order from cheapest to most expensive. But lemon rosemary was the priciest, at 15 silvers for one piece.
The next few months pass by in a breeze.
Each day was spent sneaking out when her mother leaves to shop or chat with the neighbors. Silver coins were disappearing from Elodie's money jar at lightning speed, and soon, the need for those coins evaporated as well.
"It's free for you, Elly."
Suddenly, Elodie and Eros knew exactly where the other was at any given point of the day. Smiles were exchanged at the register, then hands were held as they walked through the market. The sweet shop was closed more often than not, and the owner could always be found with the same peculiar girl under Zephyr Crossing, counting the fish they swim by in awe. An infatuation had melted into what Elodie could only call love.
Is this what it felt like? As if even the worst days become beautiful when you set eyes on them? As if you found something you had never lost, but you can never let it go?
Perhaps the gods are blessing Elodie with a walking angel.
At first, Elodie could only beg herself to stay away. She was young and treasured by the adults in the village. Her mother had already told her that she would likely be married away to an older man who was friends with her nephew. Apparently, he had a respectable job and wanted kids as soon as he could get them. Ew.
But the moments she spent away from Eros become dreadful. When she wasn't lying with him beneath the bridge, Elodie was carving him onto her wooden pots. Not once did it come out perfect, but she tried over and over again.
His eyes. They were wide and brown, shaped like a big almond. A sort of twinkle always rested in the corner of his orbs. One would describe that gleam as magical, enchanting. They drew others in. To Elodie, it just exhibited contentment. But when she was carving them, the set of eyes that knew her so well in such little time became lopsided like a messy grin, and that twinkle become a blur in her creation.
Perhaps she'll examine him more intently today. After all, Eros had asked her if she would like to have an unhealthy picnic in the Raymar Forests. He had Elodie at unhealthy.
Quickly stuffing her pot behind the big shelf her mother never bothers to check, Elodie smoothened out her blue dress and strutted out the door. Her mother had already told her she wouldn't be back for a while, so today, Elodie had nothing to worry about as she chatted away with Eros.
It was a short yet beautiful walk from the village to Raymar, away from any traces of humanity. Little critters scurry across the grass with each of Elodie's footsteps. Birds swish through the large tree leaves veiling the lavender sky from view. In the distance, Elodie can hear the chirping of crickets along the outskirts of the woods.
"Eros?" Elodie delicately spooned a few entangled vines to the side as she heard a hum in response.
In front of her were multitudes of sweet desserts. Swirling candy and dripping honey decorated all sorts of big cakes. Summer strawberries and rich mango sat sliced up in form of a fruit salad. Even before the scent hit her, Elodie was enchanted.
A surge of electricity flooded her veins, and if delight were a person, they would be Elodie's best friend. She didn't know exactly when she began throwing her arms and legs around in the air as if in some sort of elated trance, dancing like she was having a seizure. It was a feeling Elodie had never experienced. Her life was bodacious.
A sweet man to keep her company, who could bake even sweeter cakes. Days spent swimming in the pond of love. Even when she wasn't with him, she was thinking of him. Eros had taken her in the matter of a few months. Oh, nothing could drag Elodie away from this paradise.
Two arms slithered around Elodies waist. She abruptly ceased her dancing.
"ACK!" Elodie snapped her elbow into the intruder's gut in fear.
Spinning around as she heard the other thud to the floor dramatically, Elodie bit her lip in embarrassment. There laid Eros, hand massaging his stomach with a nervous grin on his face.
"I'm so sorry! I thought you were trying to murder me!" Kneeling beside him, Elodie patted his head furiously, making Eros's copper hair bounce softly.
He laughed, pulling Elodie into a warm embrace. "It's alright, I'm not dead."
As they stood up, Elodie bit her tongue, wondering if her mouth smelled funny. Eros was only a few inches away from her face. Who knows what nasty things he might get a whiff of?
"I wanted to tell you something-"
"I love you, too, don't kiss me, my mouth stin-"
Eros's calm demeanor fell as he grinned from ear to ear. Dang, can anyone even smile that much?
"Well, I love you either way, even if your mouth stinks."
If only they had noticed the rustle of leaves behind them as they leaned in together.
"Seriously?" That was hard to believe.
"Wait a minute," Jaime spoke in lulled words, thumping his juice box against his knee. "I gotta pee."
"Hold it!" three voices rung out in exasperation.
I opened my mouth to say something, but the words didn't come out.
Eros tucked a stray strand of her hair behind her ear. ELODIE! You didn't even comb your hair.
"I'd make the tides dance for you."
"Make the tides dance for her, huh?" behind the two, a new voice came into the picture. "How dare you repay my shelter with this?"
Behind them, Elodie's mother and another woman stood, arms crossed and with vicious, boring eyes.
Elodie tripped against Eros's shoes, falling to the ground with a thud. Ugh. "Mother! I'm sorry..."
Eros was locked in a staring contest with the other woman. Her chin was jutted out in a show of pride, pointy nose angled to the sky. If it weren't for those familiar, drained almond eyes, Elodie wouldn't have guessed that the lady was Eros's mother.
"Elodie, didn't I already tell you that your match is decided?"
"Enough." The woman's tone was sharp, cutting through a breath Elodie didn't know she'd been holding.
"Son, do you truly love her?" It was a trick question. Even Elodie could tell from the way the woman's eyes narrowed in apathy.
No, say no.
Elodie banged her head against the ground. Why did she have to find such a genuine, loving, crazy man?
"Fine then," Eros's mother pressed her palms together, looking up at the sky. "Dear lords above, curse these two lovesick buffoons with a punishment as dire as their mistake!"
"I truly love her!"
To this day, Elodie didn't believe that love was a mistake.
Sun and Moon.
Both lovers were trapped in the sky.
Eons streamed by. with only a few occasions when the two lovers could meet.
The humans named the pocket-sized blessing a solar eclipse.
Wrong, Elodie would think, venting to nobody in particular. For an eclipse was blocking her light, an obstacle in her way. The serene moon would never attempt to conceal what it loves.
Their convergence is an embrace, with both bodies hastily trying to hold what will be lost within a matter of a few minutes. Words can't be exchanged, but the feeling is euphoric.
People would look up at the sight in awe, wearing protective glasses to avoid an eye injury.
If Elodie could slip in a word in their moments together, she'd smile and whisper, "Look, our love is so beautiful one can't even look at us directly."
Yet until they can meet again, Elodie will continue to watch how the tides pirouette around her, glistening in pearls of light as they seem to write a poem to her every day, one that she'd ungrudgingly read till the end of infinity.
For now, she simply peers past the clouds that prance around her, watching a young woman dance ecstatically, raven black hair bouncing at her shoulders as she slips onto the wet grass. Even after taking a fall, the woman laughs heartily, laying against the grass and kicking her legs up as if having a happy seizure.
How she wishes for a day like that again.
Elodie allowed the clouds to blind her view.
"That was boring. Also, I still need to pee."