“Are you sure about this?”
My grip tightens around the edge of the cliff as I peer down into the endless void of black.
“Yes,” I respond, keeping my voice level and confident. That was kind of a lie. I’m not totally sure about this. A combination of fear, excitement, anticipation, curiosity, and pure recklessness all swirl together in a nervous energy. My deep exhale vanishes in the darkness as I stand up, keeping my head high to hide my uncertainty.
I see Derek shaking his head out of the corner of my eye. “You’re crazy,” he says matter-of-factly.
I turn my head towards him and smile, although I don’t know if he can see my smile in the dim moonlight. “Only because of you,” I tease, walking a few feet backwards.
I gently hop in place, shaking out my arms and taking one more deep breath before breaking out into a sprint. It only takes a second before my feet feel the open air, and I let my arms swing wide in the cool night air. I close my eyes and smile, time seeming to slow, transfixing me in the moment of weightlessness before gravity finds me again.
“You’re crazy,” was my response to his plan.
His hazel eyes sparkled mischievously as he smiled back at me. “Only because of you,” he teased, opening the door to our next class and going inside. I shook my head and followed suit.
“She’s gonna kill you,” I whispered as we slid into our desks next to each other.
“I’d like to see her try,” he whispered back.
The bell rang as we all got ourselves organized. “Alright everyone,” Mrs. Walker said loudly as the chatter died down. “As you all know, today is the final. Just a reminder that you need to pass this test in order to get college credit for this course. We will begin now so phones off and in your backpack--not just silenced but completely turned off--and clear everything off your desk except for a pencil.”
I leaned over to Derek. “Please don’t do this,” I whispered as Mrs. Walker pulled out the tests from her desk. “I really don’t want to take math in college,” but Derek only smiled.
“You need to lighten up, Kat,” he whispered back. “They’ll just get more tests, and we’ll have a little more time to study.”
Sighing, I leaned back in my seat with my arms crossed. In my peripheral vision I saw Derek lift a finger and aimed it at the stack of tests in Mrs. Walker’s arms. A stream of water shot out from his finger, almost instantly soaking all the tests, and continuing until our teacher was holding nothing but a sopping wet clump of disintegrating paper.
All the other students immediately burst into cheers and clapping, but he got glares from both me and Mrs. Walker.
“You really need to stop this and grow up, you know,” I told him, leaning on the wall outside the detention room later that day. “You’re not in middle school anymore. These pranks are so immature.”
“At least I actually use my Blessing,” he responded with a little sass, calmly and confidently walking towards the school entrance.
Heat rose to my cheeks and I looked down at the ground, realizing the truth of what he was saying. I jogged a few steps to catch up with him, and we walked together in silence for a moment. Finally I blurted out, “But think of all the good you can do with your Blessing! Water is so much more useful than air. You can give life and deter bullies or enemies while all I can do is make someone’s hair messy.”
“Very, very few people in the history of the world have been Blessed by the Elements, Kat,” he looked sideways at me.
“I know, I know, you don’t have to remind me,” I mumbled, again looking down at the ground.
“You should try experimenting with your Blessing. Be creative, and you’ll find useful ways to use your Blessing.” Another pause. “And besides, if I bother you so much, why did you wait for me to get out of detention? And why do you always hang out with me?”
That question made me think. Why am I always with him? Is it because he’s always been so much more confident than me, so much more sure of himself, just the kind of anchor my timid soul needs? Is it because I admire his Blessing, even if I don’t act like I do?
“And why are you only crazy because of me?”
“Because I want to impress you,” he replied point-blank. His bluntness caught me off guard. “You’re so much more kind and thoughtful than I am. I need your influence just as much as I like you.”
I looked at the ground again, this time smiling. Our hands met. “My childish antics might not have worked at impressing you, but it did get your attention.”
The wind continues to flow past me, rushing past my ears and streaming out my hair behind my head. I focus on the feeling of the wind on my body, savoring the feeling of freedom it gives me. I feel the air start to enter my body, weaving between every cell and fiber, slowly becoming a part of me . . .
I let out a scream, staring at my translucent hand in the mirror. My mom rushed in the bathroom a few seconds later, panting from her run up the stairs.
“Kathy? What is it, Kathy?” her voice rising in panic. I was such a quiet child that she knew every scream meant something was very wrong.
“Where’s my hand?” I pointed at the missing part of me with my intact right hand.
My mom sighed with relief. “It’s still there, sweetie,” she pointed at the faint but light outline of my fingers and palm. “It has just become one with the air.”
“What?” My six-year-old brain couldn’t handle this.
“You remember your favorite stories about people who are Blessed by the Elements?”
“Yeah,” I sheepishly responded, my breathing still shaky and heart still racing.
“Well, it looks like you have been Blessed by the air. The Blessing usually starts to be shown around your age,” she explained, continuing to talk, but I couldn’t hear any more of what she was saying. She was so calm, so happy to have a daughter with a Blessing, but I was terrified. To me, the Blessing was a curse.
I surrender myself to the air, letting myself become one with it. The air replaces my fear as I finally understand how incredible the feeling is to become one with an Element. My now translucent mouth lets out a joyous laugh as I slow my momentum to a stop. I hang in the darkness, looking up to the top of the ravine and seeing a sliver of crescent moon.
“So how did you learn to control your Blessing?” I panted as I treaded water.
“I’m not exactly sure how I did,” Derek responded, effortlessly floating in the lake. Well, not quite effortless. I knew he was using his Blessing. “Ever since I first started to show my Blessing, I’ve never stopped trying to use it. I got the hang of it after a while of practice, and completely immersing myself in water helped a ton, too. It helped me with the mindset of becoming one with the water.” He burst out of the water as if shot from a cannon, whooping with joy as he sailed to the other side of the lake and used the water to push himself onto the deck. I laughed, pushing air out my hands and feet to propel myself through the water to him. I was getting better at using my Blessing, but I still felt timid about it.
“I know what I need to do,” I reported once I had climbed up onto the deck next to him.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” He became one with water, becoming the shape of Derek but entirely made of water.
“Well, you said that you totally immersed yourself in water.”
“Yeah,” he cautiously answered, not sure of where I was going with this.
“Then I need to totally immerse myself in air and let go of my fear.”
“How are you going to do that?”
I could feel my eyes sparkling as I smiled at him. “I think I know just the place.”
Yes, this was the perfect place, I thought as I suspended myself in the air. I pushed off the air, flying to the mouth of the ravine. Everyone wishes they had the superpower to fly, but not many people truly understand how wonderful it is. I finally reach the top, swirling around Derek as he cheers and laughs with joy. I playfully tousle his hair with a small burst of wind before materializing in front of him.
“You did it!” He wraps me in a big hug, scooping me off the ground and spinning me around.
“I can’t believe I did it!”
“I always knew you could,” he says, trying to put me down but I still want to hover. “You just had to learn to be crazy enough to push your limits.” He gently pulls me down and plants a kiss on my lips. I pull away an inch from his face.
“And that was only because of you.”