Monday, March 28, 2022

Zephys

A character inspired by a wonderful story of author Kiara Kalais. (thanks, Kiara!)


Zephys looked in her palm the small tornado she had just materialized. Normally she should have gone crazy with her power, which she acquired very recently, but the cold wind was freezing her heart. She would prefer to be able to make flames that would dance on her palm, filling it with light and warmth. She was sure that magicians from other areas could do it and she was jealous of their luck.

Baba Godar had blown the magic inside her after many months of traditional trials in the fog forest and the Acher River, which violently poured its icy waters into the waterfalls before meeting the sea. A girl between two brothers would never admit that there was a time when she was scared. And if someone implied something like that, he would pay dearly.

She quickly finished her morning routine at home and went out into the yard. After swimming in Serzis's gray wellies while feeding the animals, she washed in the cold water of the watering can and set off for the forest.

As much as she did not get along very well with her parents, who wanted her to be a boy like her siblings, she felt so close to Babba Jela. Her grandmother was already feeding the deer that ate from her hands. The birds had woken up early and filled the forest with pulsating waves of peeps. It all seemed so harmless during the day, but Zephys knew better what was going on when it got dark as she was at the beginning of the big forest of Fog that stretched endlessly to the north.

"Welcome, you had days to visit me," Babba told her.

- I felt like I wanted to see you…

- Your heart is heavy, Zephys. What torments you?

- I do not know, Babba. I really do not know. I just wanted to see you.

- Come on, help me comb Ali and Frowa. Take your stool, she told her with a playful smile.

Zephys climbed on the stool to reach Frowa and began to untangle the knots in her hair. The deer had to be in the best possible condition to be selected for the annual Aput races and bring home revenue. To be fast but also beautiful. The king himself chose the best each year, which was considered an honor but Zephys knew that Babba did not want to lose any of them.

When she saw the sun had risen high enough, she knew it was time to leave if she wanted to catch up. She murmured an excuse to Babba, who after a while hugged her tightly, and left for the village. Then, when she was away, she turned right and headed for the port. Her calves began to burn from the pressure as she ran down the raw hard soil of the lonely paths she had discovered to cross the road. She thought that her grandfather was there because he had told her that boats would come today and he used to observe them. Zephys loved those days when she had the opportunity to see something different from her daily unchanging routine.

She saw him sitting alone at the bay watching the ships mooring. The sailors tied the ropes to the bollards shouting at each other instructions and commands. The commotion had in her ears an enviable unusual liveliness. She sat next to her grandfather, sucking in the images of ships and people running up and down. She turned to him and saw him staring with his pipe in his hand. He loosely pointed to the crowd and said to her before going into himself again:

- They had more than a month to bring supplies and tomorrow they will set sail. Who knows when they will come back.

- Grandpa, how come you never wanted to travel by ship?

Still lost in daydreaming, he stared at her, acrobatic between memories and now. It was a short time before he answered.

- When I was little I traveled. At that time the hulls were coarser and the sea more dangerous. I thought my magic was enough to manage everywhere. After fifteen years of fighting the waves, I got tired. I longed for the village and the solid land. And I came back.

This was information that Zefis did not know. It was obvious that her grandfather longed for those years of youth when, free as the wind, he went from port to port and lived countless adventures. In her mind the life of the sailors was a magical dream, that as a girl she could never live.

- And you would not like to barge in again after so many years? Doesn't the sea call you, grandpa?

The old man knew the fire in Zephys's heart. That's why he never told her about his past at sea. It was a spark that had been growing for a long time even though she was a little girl. As much as her brothers and most of people in the village were happy with their lives, so much of his granddaughter had inherited his own longing to meet the foreign worlds that stretched across the sea. His own flame had become like the candle that fed it every time he saw the sailors in the harbor. If he was not so old, if he did not have a family and daily habits to keep him captive to the known, maybe he would have thoughts of leaving again. Now, however, his time was up, the fatigue was greater than any mood for adventure and he wanted his life to be stable. He was old…

- What I had to live in the sea, I have lived it. Now I am happy to set foot on the ground. My heart has a home and it is in the village. We must follow our heart, little one! Every time I followed it, I did not lose.

Zephys's eyes were full of colors, metal and unusual clothes. Our heart, her heart... her grandpa's heart was in the village, hers was traveling across the twin stones, across the ocean. Where people had other habits and magicians made fire and knew great magic that she would never learn.

At night, she couldn't sleep. Her brothers were snoring in the stillness of the night but it was not what was keeping her from sleep. Zephys was used to both their snoring and their stench. Her eyes were open looking across the sea and she was thinking only one thing: the ships are sailing tomorrow… The dawn, hidden among the ballast, followed, trembling with excitement, her heart…

Friday, March 18, 2022

Panic Room

- NO, said the realtor. Mr. Vassiliadis, you should not have pressed this button. This, as I explained to you, is the panic room of the villa. I have to call to get us out.

The realtor, a young woman in a ragged monochrome suit and bone glasses, hurriedly took out her cell phone and, trying to contain her agitation, explained the situation to the Center.

- Please come as soon as possible. We are waiting for you.

She looked professionally at her prospective client, a well-to-do man in his forties. If she could sell him the house, she could cover several holes that have been bothering her lately. It was a two-story old mansion that had been recently renovated and the panic room was a new addition. She went to show it to him almost proudly when he pressed the red button.

- Can you explain to me what happened? the man asked.

- We are locked in the room until we are released. Do not worry though, I have been notified. As you can see, this is a fairly large room with a small toilet, supplies and basic amenities for an emergency stay.

The realtor described the place, showing every detail she thought the buyer might like. But he seemed to care more about her.

- Are you always so professional? Doesn't it bother you that we have, as you said, excluded in here?

- It's my job, Mr. Vassiliadis. And it is a place that can save the life of its owner.

- I, if I were a young and beautiful woman locked in a small room with a man, might have seen the situation differently.

- How so?

- Like a little adventure. Maybe fate closed us here for some reason.

- You pressed the exclude button.

- Fate always uses someone to do its job.

The man approached her with a faint smile while his blue eyes looked like pulsating seas. The realtor turned her head to avert his gaze. She was sure his eyes were brown and not blue. Also, that the dizziness may have been related to claustrophobia, something that had never happened to her before.

- I think you misunderstood my behavior. I did not give you such a right, said the woman, watching his eye pupils become slits and his face grow longer and darker.

The man laughed when he saw her lose her color. His long forked tongue unfolded and touched her chin lightly.

- You did it on purpose, she cried as the world around her turned white.

- I need mothers for my children, she heard his voice from afar.

Rescuers had arrived when she began to gather herself. She was lying on the single bed opposite the door and Mr. Vassiliadis explained to them that she had fainted from claustrophobia. He was so human that the realtor could have challenged what happened if she had not experienced it.

- What are you; she asked him looking into his brown eyes, while all she wanted was to eat something very, very sweet.