Fiction: Wind passing through

Nicole Hennessy

Editor’s note: Every other week, we’d like to share work from student authors. From science-fiction to romance, we want to give you an escape to your day.

Each story will begin in the ALL section of the Daily Kent Stater and end at

If you would like to see your work here, send an e-mail to [email protected].

When the cars drove over the red bricks of the street, their tires hit each crack and paused the way the earth would if it wanted to stop spinning forever. The pause was so completely integrated into the revolution that it barely existed at all. Interstellar light reflected on the blank expression of my face as I waited, in silence, for the time to pass.

I contemplated the life around me, but there was no thought that could console the bush, which wilted in the heat, or the way its flowers sunk, in vases, remembering my little fingers snapping their limbs; the patter of my bare feet.

Three birds were perched in a tree and they were singing. As I lay on my back, among the smooth green blades of grass, the horizon curved ceaselessly. Suddenly, the birds flapped their wings hard enough to carry their bodies across the sky and a leg appeared, hanging from one of the tree’s branches. It was a long, skinny leg. I sat up to get a better look at it, still not seeing the body it belonged to. I stood and walked over to the tree, leaning my head all the way back. My shadow pressed against the crumbling asphalt of my driveway. The leg just hung there, swinging in the breeze, its body obscured by leaves. I reached for the lowest branch with both of my arms and pulled myself up. The leg was about five branches higher, directly above my head. On the bottom of the shoe was a strange symbol I had never seen before.

I wrapped my arms around the tree’s trunk, swinging my right leg toward the nearest branch. Bark peeled from the tree as I maneuvered my way upward, finally reaching the branch that the body of the dangling leg slept in.

The rhythm of his breathing reproduced the dreams he was enduring in his head. Calm, yet inconsistent breaths escaped him, and I inhaled them blissfully. His blue mohawk glistened in the afternoon sun. His long nose sat between his almond-shaped eyes. His skin was the color of concrete, and he smelled of lavenders. I wanted to wake him, but I liked watching him. The tree’s leaves provided a sense of enclosure, and I watched them move involuntarily.

His eyes opened slowly, and he sat up. Vaguely looking in my direction, he began to speak, as if to himself.

“I had to sell my thoughts to validate them, but they kept changing the order of them. It was all materialism, materialism, materialism! And ‘don’t get left behind, we’re going somewhere.’ I just wanted to watch society from the outside and show ‘the masses’ pictures of themselves; in words. I wanted to show them that their disgust with the world was their disgust with themselves. But I kept getting sucked in. I wasn’t strong enough.”

As he spoke, the blank expression on my face was sideways and falling off. My mind began humming with the luminosity of a fluorescent light about to burn out.

“… So I wrote stories that no one would read. I began standing on street corners screaming them at random passers-by. I became the ugly, mad, disillusioned artist murmuring about capitalism in my sleep. I became their martyr, soaking up that disgust they harbored so deeply within themselves…”

I leaned against the trunk of the tree, sitting with my legs scrunched up and my head resting on my knees. His eyes swam around in his skull and his words drifted out of his mouth in waves. His story deviated from his rant and began without introduction.

“The bare trees contorted themselves unnaturally and had no empathy for their poor dead leaves lying on the ground. Once they all grew straight, pretty trunks and branches, sprouting foliage, unaware that their roots carried their souls off to the sea. They were the prettiest, most well-behaved trees around, until one day a traveler came to wander in the 14th-century church they overlooked for not nearly as long as the church had overlooked the sea, which was stealing their souls. Instead of marveling at the magnificent chapel, he started climbing the trees and photographing the area from that position. He leapt from limb to limb, tree to tree, until he exhausted himself and climbed down. He never even stepped foot in the church. He followed the winding road to his next destination. So, then, did the trees.”

His purple, velvet coat had four gold buttons going down the right side, and I secretly savored their opulence. His story was still reverberating in the air and the tides of his eyes had calmed.

“…The trees of that story became ugly and distorted in order to save themselves,” he said. “So did I. My appearance changed. I began traveling; sleeping on beaches and in forests. I became so lost I could no longer understand the connotation of the word.”

He became silent and remained that way long enough for my eyes to blink 12 times. His gaze seemed detached from something intangible. His words, again, rode the waves of his tongue, hurling themselves towards my mind as he began telling another story.

“He sat alone, on the crowded city streets of Chicago, in an artsy part of town. His fingers were rough and his hair was tangled. He sat on the stoop of a business just staring out at all of the traffic. He asked the same people for money numerous times, to which they replied they were broke. He was the subject of photographs; he should have been paid, at least, for that. He held a cardboard sign that was folded in resignation. A hospital bracelet encircled his wrist. His shirt collar twisted and the blue plaid hung awkwardly on his body, his smooth black skin. He just stared down the street wondering what was considered distance.”

The word distance lingered and his thin, pale lips formed a smile. It was the sort of smile that conveyed ambivalence.

Contact features reporter Nicole Hennessy at [email protected].