The City on the Wind—Rebecca Harrison

Our wind carried our city through the long nights. So, we sang it songs. And the crystal pieces of our city whirled apart and then joined in new shapes, then whirled apart and joined, on and on. In the time of long nights, we hung shine flakes on our crystal walls, and they lit our wind’s way. I peered out into the dark and I saw the other pieces of the city, floating crystal, lit by shine flakes, and I placed one on our wall and felt its shimmer on my face. 

“Long ago, snowflakes fell from the sky, all in bursts and clumps – so many of them they piled right up until everything was white, white as far as you could see,” Gram said. “Long before we lived in break-apart cities on the winds. When we lived in towns on the backs of running bears, and even longer ago still.” She leaned on her stick and pried herself off the sofa, her gnarled hands quivering. 

“Drina told me we never lived on bears,” I said. “How could we? Look how small they are.” I pointed to the bears running outside in our wind, round and round, the shine flakes lighting their golden fur. “The biggest one could fit next to you on our sofa,” I laughed. 

“The world changes, Pennally,” she said, and she patted my shoulder. I linked my arm in hers and breathed in her scent of wind moss. For even though it hadn’t grown since long before I was born, Gram spent her young years sorting and stewing enough of the stuff to smell of it forever. “Now, to sing,” she said. 

Everybody from our city was already in Gulkanna Hall, their faces bright from waiting. We sang to our wind and the golden bears howled. And our city pulled apart and remade itself and pulled apart again. And our wind moved through the night, over grounds dimmer than the sky. 

“Our wind will carry us home,” we sang as one voice, in a melody that felt like loss. 

“Where is home?” I asked Gram when we were back in our house, eating smoked slices of sky fish. She touched one of our walls to make it vanish. The bears lumbered over, and I fed them flakes of sky fish while she ruffled their golden ears. 

“A green place. The bears are looking for it – that’s why they run around and around. My ma told me, if you lead the golden bears to the ground – they’ll take you there.” One of the bears nudged her with its black nose. “They’re trapped in the wind, you see, and they can’t get down.”

The bears licked our hands. Then Gram touched the side of our house and our wall appeared again. 

“Are we trapped, too?” I asked, but she didn’t answer. 

In the morning, I was alone. I scoured the city, all its pieces, some of them two or three times as the city remade itself and I didn’t know my way, but Gram wasn’t there. When I looked out, the bears had gone, and I knew they were with her in a slow walk to an unknown home, and I wondered why she’d left me up here in the wind. 

Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and her best friend is a dog who can count. 

photo by Annie Spratt (via unsplash)