I stared ahead. My eyes longed to shut but my hands, swollen and pale, were incapable of freeing me from the web of strings imprisoning me. I was powerless to the wind that only occasionally allowed me a break from the punishment of sight.
A sudden pop of light stood out against the black sky, bright and unwelcome. A figure dropped quietly towards the island, hanging limply beneath a parachute. It moved where the wind pulled it, swaying from side to side, taking in the peculiar view. It saw the sharp pink rocks and crumbling shelters; it heard the soft whimpers of the littluns as they cried out in their sleep, unaware of the arrival of yet another beast to fuel their nightmares. It stalled above the island, not ready for the descent, but the wind took control. Cool, alluring hands grabbed the figure, dragging it in a downwards curve around the sky and towards the looming mountain. At last the wind let go, discarding the body amongst the blue flowers of the mountainside. The flowers glimmered, offering the comfort of light to the overwhelming darkness. But now a gentle breeze caught the figure once more and hauled it away from the sympathetic flowers, its parachute banging and heaving behind it, until it lay huddled among the harsh, shattered rocks of the mountaintop. There the breeze became restless, causing the delicate strings of the parachute to tangle so that, as the stars moved across the sky and the sun began to rise, the figure sat atop the mountain and bowed and sank and bowed again.
Presently the wind held me upright and I caught sight of a small, skinny boy with a coarse mop of black hair. He was walking drearily up the mountain, his face empty of expression and dry blood encrusting the edges of his mouth and chin. He uttered unheard words as he picked his way through the masses of tangled creepers, staggering precariously towards the clearing in which I sat. The wind erupted with a breeze and my body proceeded downward, relaxed in the welcomed darkness. The break was short lived though and the wind pulled me upright, startling the crowd of flies that had made a dark cloud around my head. The boy caught sight of me. He looked at me quietly, grasping the severity of his discovery; as I bowed forward and back once more, realization swept over his bony face. He knelt down and was sick until his stomach was empty. He took my lines in his shaking hands and carefully picked them from the crevices of rock in which they were caught, freeing me at last from the humiliation the wind had caused me. I bowed one last time, thanking the boy, and finally gave in to my decomposition. The boy eventually turned away, his bright eyes almost relieved, and headed down the mountain.
From my new position I could still see the small boy. He was slowly stumbling down the mountain, a pained grimace covering his thin face. At that moment his legs gave out beneath him and he began to crawl; his eyes were intent on something in the distance, never breaking. I followed his gaze and caught sight of a large group of boys varying in age. A trail of smoke rose from amongst them and the smell of roasting pig was faint in the air. The sound of laughter was masked by an explosion of the sky, followed by a thin streak of bright light. I shivered, taking in the dark sky; a storm was approaching. My eyes shifted back to the boys. They were looking uneasily at the sky, suddenly restless. A fiery haired boy attempted to calm them, but the lightning was becoming brighter and the thunder almost unbearable. The smaller ones began to scream, running wildly around the beach. Under the threat of the sky, the bigger boys began to form a sort of panicked dance, reenacting a hunt. They formed a circle with the little ones jumping frantically around the outside. A chant, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”, rose in agony as the storm grew stronger. A small thing suddenly broke through the line of trees, darkly and uncertainly. My eyes turned to this strange creature and with terror I recognized the harmless beast.
I felt the urge to stop the boy, protect him from the blind and unpredictable dance. I attempted to move towards him, but the wind pushed me back and I could only watch. The circle now too saw the beast and surged towards it like a hungry mouth devouring its prey. I could no longer see the boy, only the rise and fall of spears as their owners struck, bit, and tore flesh. The boy cried out, but no one listened; the sound of crunching bone filled the air and matched the booms of thunder. The beast’s screams became weaker and weaker until finally, all was quiet. Then the clouds opened and the rain fell, bounding down from the mountaintop and splashing onto the struggling heap of boys on the sand. Now the heap broke up and the boys staggered away, leaving only the beast. The sand was stained red with blood and even in the rain it was clear how small this beast truly was.
Anger consumed me. The boy had freed me from my prison when no one else would; he was no beast and now he was dead. The boys who did this are the real beasts. I summoned up the last of my energy, beckoning for the wind to take me to one last destination, and waited. Presently a great wind blew the rain sideways and my parachute filled and moved. I slid forward, rose to my feet, spun, and ran with heavy feet atop the high trees. I fell towards the beach, reaching towards the monstrous boys as I went; the boys scattered screaming into the darkness. The wind moved me forward, cut through the lagoon, and let me go once and for all in the open sea.
My eyes shut. The cool water lapped gently against my pale, swollen hands and calmed me. Here the wind could not faze me; I was surrounded by the freedom of never ending blue.
Ava McEnroe, Age 13, Grade 8, Trinity School, Silver Key