She used to pray for rain. I remember hearing her voice through the wall we shared as heavy tribal drums beat out a rhythm like thunder falling onto us.
I would press my ear to the wall, urging myself to slip into the hallway, knock on her door and join in the carnal chaos that would ensue. But each time I would draw away, unable to force myself out the door.
I used to practice magic, a rudimentary form that helped my life to shine. I would collect sweet grasses and carve runes into stones from the nearby shore. My brothers would scoff and shy away from my practices, claiming the devil's presence within me, but when the earth's song filled my heart, I knew it could harbor no evil intents.
I found her on the building's rooftop the first time we met. The wind was howling and her hair whipped around her face with such fervor, her wild curls much like Medusa's snakes. Just as her stare turned men to stone, I too froze when her gaze met mine, daring my heart not to make a sound.
When I was twelve, I became obsessed with the idea of flying. We lived aside the bluffs, and standing at the very top, toes clinging to the edge, gave me this feeling that flight wasn't such a crazy thought; that maybe I'd be able to catch the wind and soar right across the sea… if I could only work up the nerve to jump.
Many practice flights and a broken shinbone later, I've still got the limp to prove I was brave enough to try.
The first time she spoke to me, she sent my mind reeling.
When I was a little boy, I swear I could hear the earth talking. I would weave through the fields and press myself into the grass at dawn and I could hear the earth sing. It was glorious, but when we moved to the city I lost the voice. No matter how hard I listened, how far I searched, how much I yearned for the sweet songs, I could no longer talk to the bees or make the rivers laugh again.
Before my father died, I spent my days in the apothecary he shared with his two brothers. The regular patrons came to know me by name, and it didn't take long before I was experimenting with my own concoctions. They started small; a couple salves for soothing poison oak and mild rashes. As that success grew, it led to more curiosity and ever expanding and complicated formulas.
I was enamored. To think, nature had placed all the things we needed right under our noses.
Elfwort to treat hay fever?
Her eyes were animalistic, a shade of green I'd never seen before. She took in the scene below her as we watched the cars race through the streets. Kicking my feet slowly back and forth, I felt her body shift.
"Don't you ever miss the songs?"
I couldn't look to her, not in that moment. An awkward and lengthy silence later, I still found no response. She didn't want to know if I missed the songs, she wanted to know where she could find them again. And I still hadn't figured that one out yet.
My great aunt Aurelia gave me a hunk of Labradorite once. I didn't think much of the polished piece. Though it caught the light with a beautiful lustre, I couldn't seem to find the soul in the stone.
But throughout the years, whenever I roamed very far from home, or found my head too full of numbers or questions or even women, the stone would seem to find its way back to me. And just as its giver had, it managed to lend me a twisted sort wisdom.
Though it hadn't come to me in years, the day I met her, I felt the stone's solemn weight in my pocket.