I pull my lunch from a nook in the apple tree’s roots as Dad stands up. He looks at me curiously. “You’re not going to have lunch with the others?”
I shake my head and look inside my bag. It’s not much, but it will do. I can feel my Dad still studying me. I look up at him. “I’ll be fine, really I will.” I stand and take my lunch into the branch of the tree I’d been sitting in earlier. I lean against the trunk and manage to sit cross legged. Dad watches.
“All right,” he says at last. “I’ll be back in a little bit.”
“I’ll be here.” I manage a tentative smile. It’s hard to do, now that I’m not concentrating on learning. Dad nods and takes off. No sooner is he out of sight than the smile fades and the tears begin to roll down my cheeks.
The link is barren save for the small fire I tend. A beacon for Ash to follow, should he choose to come home. Home, what is home? My thoughts spiral around. Home is where the heart is. Where is my heart? Strewn from Devil’s Flat to the beach upon which I collapsed; with Ash. But love is funny. I love Mom. I love Grandma B. I’m pretty sure I love Dad and without a doubt I love Ash. Each one is different. I could even say I love Gloria.
I close my eyes and sigh. I need to eat. There will be more testing after lunch. Today is Element day. So far Dad’s tested me on Fire, Earth, and Water. I really ought to learn how to swim. That leaves air and the sword. I look down from my branch at the sword Dad gave me.
Right. I pull the sandwich out of my bag and nibble on it. I know I need food to keep my energy up. I just don’t really feel like eating. My thoughts keep wandering. So what does air and the sword have to do with each other. I remember seeing that sword when Dad and I went shopping. The other one with it had been larger. Dad gave it to Ash. I wonder if Ash knows I have the sister.
Damn, the tears are running down my cheeks again. I’ve got to try and stop thinking about him. I close my eyes and sigh. Leaning against the apple tree I look into the branches.
Don’t stop thinking of him, it will get easier.
How would I know? I’ve never been through this before. I frown inwardly at my thoughts.
I know, your father knows, only thankfully you’re not nearly as foolish as I am.
“Mom?” I sit straight up. She’s gone and I can see Dad walking up the path. Well it’s time to find out what I’m supposed to do with the sword and air.
I jump out of the tree just before he reaches the clearing. Dad stops and looks at me concerned. “What’s next?” I ask mustering up the best smile I can.
“Are you sure you’re ready?” he places a hand on my shoulder. “I understand if you’re not.” My tears must still show on my face.
I nod, “I’m ready. I’m just a little,” my face scrunches slightly as I think of the right word, “weepy right now.” I look into his eyes. They are ponderous.
“Okay,” he says at last, picking up the sword. “Last element; Air.” He proffers the weapon to me hilt facing, blade resting on his arm. I take it gingerly. “Now,” Dad moves to stand behind me, “Let’s make sure you have a good grip.” Once he’s satisfied I am holding it right he steps back around to face me. “Now, swing it about a bit.”
My attempts to swing it about are pretty miserable. Movies make this look a lot easier than it is. For one the sword is heavier than I expected. I look at him, my eyes pleading for help.
“Try a simple figure eight,” Dad stands besides me. He holds his arm out as if he has a sword. I watch his arm, but most of the movement is in the wrist. After a few tries I get it. I smile. “Now,” Dad’s in front of me again. I stop. “This is of utmost importance.” I nod. “Respect the Air. Move the sword so that it moves in unison with the Air.”
I repeat what he said to myself and ponder it. Of course I respect Air. It’s what lets me breath, cools the house on hot days, yet it can bring tornadoes and hurricanes. Who wouldn’t respect that?
I close my eyes and swish the sword. My eyes fly open wide. Two things wrong there. One, I should never swing a sword with my eyes closed. Two, I need to connect with the Air to ask its help. I look up at the sky. A seagull lazily rides the currents of the winds above us. For a moment I am with the bird in the sky. I can feel the currents, even see the currents. It’s tempting to ride with the bird a while. It would be a good way to learn right? But Dad’s waiting for me to do something, so I pull myself back.
I smile as I look at the sword. I do one figure eight, watching the air around the sword and how it moves. I pause and take a deep breath, eyes closed. I open my eyes as I slowly let my breath out and connect with the air around me.
Then we dance. My sword, the Air and I. Not just figure eights either. There’s a hack and a slash; a turn to the right and a turn to the left; a full one-eighty to end, sword point just inches from the Apple tree. As the air moves from me to the leaves above, I realize something.
In my dream, where I danced in the meadow for Ash; I inhale sharply and push the pain back. But in my dream, I had been dancing with Air. Yet in my other dream, I’d been so certain that Water was my element. “Dad,” my voice wavers. I know there are tears in my eyes yet again. “Is it possible to have two elemental affinities?” I slowly turn to face him. I don’t know if I want the answer to be yes, or no.