Chapter 12

My fingers twirled through the sand, each individual extremity gently carving its own lane and creating five tiny mountains of grain at the end of my momentous stroke. Repeatedly, I allowed myself to submerge in this pattern: swiping my hand with full force across the surface of the beach, then coming to a quaint stop and piling any sand collected in a designated heap. I tried to use it as a calming movement to ease myself into concentrated thought, but in reality, it was nothing more than a distraction. I knew that I had to think, to ponder with logic and an open mind, carefully analyzing everything that had occurred this unpredictable day… yet I did not want to. Or, rather, perhaps it was that I didn't know where to start.

"Ok…" I practically sighed, closing my eyes in exasperation. "Think. Analyze. Ponder. Explain. You can do it…"

I squeezed my eyes tighter in an effort to concentrate, but I could not seem to focus on one single topic. I had dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of questions… But I did not know how or where to begin.

"Ugh!" I was quite annoyed. "Of all the times to contract ADHD, why now? Seriously!" In an effort of rage and vexation, I lifted my hand from the sand and gave myself a slight smack on the forehead. It was just a gentle tap with my palm, the kind so often observed in frustration.

Perhaps then, thinking it such a simple gesture, was why surprise filled me as I tumbled backwards, doing rough back somersaults as the momentum and power of my hand rushed me.

I could not help but yell as I rolled uncontrollably, the force from my hand twirling me at a high speed.

"Aaahhh!" My voice wavered in and out as my head bobbed up and down towards the sand and sky, in coordination with my rearward rolling. I could not see anything except the flashes of light that came when I rolled up and the darkness that followed as I fell back to the ground. With each roll, my legs and arms fell beneath me, my entire weight being placed inelegantly on them for an ever brief moment. However, I could feel myself beginning to slow in my tumbles, the blurry pictures in my vision slowing and slowing, until I could nearly make out the sky and the beach after every roll.

Slowly my body lost its speed and velocity, and I came to a stomach-churning stop, landing finally on my back, sprawled into a wide spread-eagle and immobile with astonishment.

"Ow…" I muttered out of sheer shock. What in the world was that?

I lay in the stretched out position I had landed in, finding no solace in the marbled blue and white sky that lived above me. My heart beat ferociously… yet… something wasn't right. No, something vitally important was not right at all.

Pain…

Yes, that was it. Pain, or the lack of it. I felt… fine. In fact, I seemed to have an urge to jump up and start running around. Which, considering the speed and abruptness at which I was brutally launched backwards… It did not seem right at all.

"But of course…" I whispered. "It must be the Stone's fault."

I sighed, then sat up in a slow motion, cautious of any sudden throbbing or twinge that could slay me. However, no startling back ache or pounding headache disabled me, which didn't really come as a surprise. By now, I realized that I wasn't going to feel pain… the Stone had protected me.

The Stone…

Yeah, it was pretty obvious that it was indeed the powers of the Stone that had save me. Nothing else was even plausible. Yet, once, I had considered the Stone and its powers implausible.

Stop toying with your mind! It was the Stone! Duh, you did just acquire all those new powers! This must just be one of them.

"Wait…" My reasoning carried to my voice. "That's right! When I cut myself before, it healed instantly! It must be the same here!" I had almost forgotten that incident, even though it had only occurred half of an hour before.

Ok. So I had figured out one of my zillion questions… my new "powers" barred me from getting hurt. Or, at least assisted. I couldn't quite imagine myself being impregnable. Even Superman bowed down to Kryptonite, and I couldn't quite imagine myself being greater than that.

Alas, Miara, you are indeed very much greater than that fictional nonsense. You, your powers, and the perils you face are all real. They were not concocted in some random human's head. They are genuine. And you must not lose sight of that.

"Yeah, yeah," I muttered solemnly, even though I was positive the Stone would not reply. It was supposed to be "abandoning" me anyway, leaving me to solve a few things for myself. Apparently, the opportunity to remind me that I was bigger than God was worth breaking that vow of silence…. Either that, or it just liked to shoot me down.

I let out a tiny smirk, then returned to brainstorming about the recent development. Ok, so I wasn't the next Superman. I was… better. I guess that made me Super-Superman… Or something like that. So far I had found one of my strengths, an ability to not become injured. That was pretty cool, awesome even. Of course, I was not sure to the extent of which this protection would last. If I jumped off a bridge, would I still live? This was something I was not willing to try out, because if my protection did not extend that far… I would die. Not exactly an ideal situation.

So what else could I test? I obviously had obtained more powers, and I wanted to discover them. I thought for a moment, letting my mind roll across some of my experiences, and a sudden realization hit me. Instantly, I felt my IQ drop 20 points.

"Duh! When I slapped my forehead, I went flying backwards. That must mean I have some kind of super strength!" I felt dumb for not realizing this sooner, but I would just blame it on my newly acclaimed ADHD. But how would I test that theory? I exactly feel like hitting myself in the head again, even if it didn't cause me pain. Somehow, it was just not a joyous activity.

A lone piece of blotchy driftwood caught my attention, resting inelegantly alone amongst the white sand. Pushing myself up off the ground with a gentle whisk, I lightly strolled over to the wood, which lay a few feet from where I'd landed. I leaned over by bending my back, and extended a long-fingered hand to grasp it from its indented hold. It felt light, too light even, almost hollow. Narrowing my eyes in concentration, I peered across it's rough surface, gazing for any holes that would identify the absence of its core, but found none. It's appearance gave the impression of solidity, yet, it was floated in my hand like a piece of paper. No wood could be that weightless yet solid. The laws of density just did not permit that. Or did they? True, I was not an expert on driftwood or the laws of density, so I really had no idea. I would have to initiate another step in the investigation.

Tilting my body, I thrusted my arm behind my head in a throwing motion. My figure fell into a familiar pattern, one I had practiced and perfected many times through my years of playing outfield on the local softball team. Then I launched the piece of wood from my hand and into the air.

I had been a softball player for 8 years of my life. For two of those years, I had to play with the boys, since the girls league didn't start until age 10. The last 2 years I played, my team had won the intramural championships. I was even voted the game MVP the year before last. But, never, and I repeat never had I ever thrown a ball this far.

Heck, I'd never even seen the pros throw a ball that far. Wait, scratch that. I 'd never seen anyone throw that far.

Yeah, it was that far.

As soon as the wood had left the nerve receptors on my hand, I could tell it was gone. It shot into the air, past me, skyrocketing into the sapphire abyss that stretched above me. It's spiraling brown form was easy to pick out amongst the blue and white sky, at least at first. Then, as it continued to travel, it became a blurred dot on the horizon, until, suddenly, it was no longer visible at all. The cerulean sky and off-white sands, parched with the thirst of a thousand desert men, had swallowed it alive.

"Whoa…" Surprise filled me, the shock of a twist ending consuming my mind. Of course, I was practically expecting myself to launch the wood, since I was nearly positive I had gained super strength. But I was never expecting it to soar that incredibly distant. With the atmosphere as clear as it was, the visibility had to be over two miles, at least. And I had watched it travel until it was no longer visible, just a speck amidst a world of pastel harmony. But even then, it still was hanging with high altitude.

I had just thrown a piece of wood at least two miles.

"Sweet." And sweet it was. Silently, I added "super strength" to my mental list of powers.

With the excitement of discovering a new skill still tingling in my fingertips, I continued to think ahead at what my other powers could be. Now that I had revealed that I actually had special abilities, and could control them through tests commenced by my own willpower, a new yearning was welling inside of me to discover the rest of them. Involuntarily, I started to think of the powers that Superman obtained. Fast speeds. X-ray vision. Flight.

Flight… My mind wondered with a hint of inquisitiveness. Flying would just be too cool. Amazing. Brilliant.

"Ok," I whispered, mind committed. Next test – flying.

There seemed to be only one way to test this theory – by willing myself to release my hold on the earth. Taking a deep breath, I widened my stance in the sand, drawing my bare feet to a sturdy pose as if to steady my jittery body. Ever since I had thrown the piece of wood, a certain tingling had flowed from my hand. I had initially thought it was just a reaction from my intense coursing of power through the area, but it had unwillingly spread up my arm and past my shoulder, quickly filling in the rest of my body. Now, it was forcing upon me a jittery energy, as if I had drank ten too many coffees. I was not entirely sure whether this was good or bad, so I allowed myself to ignore its presence as much as I could, and continued by closing my eyes, filling my mind with determination. As a final, yet somewhat cheesy action, I pulled my lengthy arms into a fulfilling arc above my head, taking on the classic flying pose.

I took a deep breath and pictured myself floating up into the air gently, the wind caressing my skin as if being lifted onto an angel's cloud. At first, I felt nothing, no out-of-this-world sensation, no release of gravity. I pictured the image harder next time, allowing it to take over my entire body. Yet, still, the ground held firmly beneath my feet. Fly, I urged myself. Come on, fly! As I thought these commanding words, a tingling sprinted up my spine, leaving me with a chill that made me visibly shiver. A light breeze touched my face, like the hands of a long lost memory, and I felt the familiar sand fall away beneath my feet. Slowly, I opened my eyes, and found that I was now levitating like a genie about five feet above the land.

The world beneath me was a world that I had lived in all my life. It had been my place of birth, my daily residence, and beyond that, my home. I had found solace in it's solidness, in the fact that gravity, while maintaining a strict set of guidelines, could not hurt me whilst I remained on it's surface. But now, that world was falling away at my feet. I saw things differently, and, for the first time, felt the world through the perspective of a creature of the air.

Gravity had no more power over me, I was free from its binding grasp. No longer did its rules apply; I had found a loophole through which to escape. Nor was solidness or firmness an issue, for the air did not have any knowledge of these things. It knew only of freedom and weightlessness, of currents and emancipation. All of the rules I had learned to abide by in life were worthless here. In the air, wind was god, space was the kingdom, and weight, nothing but a useless servant.

As I glanced down upon the world beneath me, I felt a certain calling from the sky above, as if the open atmosphere had beckoned to me. Wanting to respond, I willed myself to travel upward, and my body followed easily. The wind whipped past my face, shoving particles of stray hair wildly behind my head, accenting the apparent freedom that I now owned. Life, as I had known it, had ended. Before, I had been a child of the earth, a peon in this universe of miracles. But now, now, something had changed, had touched me. I was no longer just an unnoticeable speck in the strand of life, but an important building block in the thread of the galaxy. The Stone had changed me, had given me the power to protect this world, land and air alike. But it had also given me something more, something so unprecedented that I could not imagine even the Stone itself realizing its effect. It had transformed me from a mere child of the earth, to a creature of the sky.

OMG, I'm NOT dead!!! It has takenme so long to write this chapter that it is ridiculous. I have tried writing it so many times, and just end up hating it. However, I think I finally have a version that I like. Hopefully this is where my wrtiers block will end, and I can continue on without such a long break! Thank you to those that read this, you are truly loyal and I will thank you in a better way someday!