084. The Way the Wind Blows. Simone Schreiber

It feels like it was only yesterday.

A little girl stands underneath a tree, glancing longingly at the red apples on its branches. I swell up and rustle the leaves until one apple comes free and falls to her feet. She picks it up and runs to her mother.

“Mama, mama, look! The wind gave it to me!”

I have always been there, but humans are the first to give me a name. They are grateful, back then, for I bring with me the early promise of spring on rose coloured petals; I warn of the oncoming winter with cold air from the snowy mountains. I know them, and they know me, my irks and quirks, which way I blow today, that I will always calm down, however long it takes.

But time changes everything.

The young ones still giggle when I play with their hair, dragging the scent of soap and youth across the fields. The older ones are annoyed, they curse me or tie their hair up in buns, but I can still caress their exposed cheeks and necks.

They build tiny houses, but they still come to greet me. I help them dry their clothes; I sail their ships, and some, I help to fly. Many are grateful and dance with me as I whisper, and howl, and blow, and rage. But as time goes on, they forget what I do for them, and they begin to hate me.

They build bigger houses and walls to keep me away. I rattle their windows and uproot their trees, but they wouldn’t come out anymore. They hide and cower in their dark dens. Some think they can trap me, predict my mood or alter it, but my anger only swells across their land—they give me other names now: typhoon, hurricane, tornado. Still, they won’t change their ways; even my smallest storm sends them away.

I leave, searching for someone that has not forgotten me, that can withstand me. I find them on a rocky island far up north. They live close by the sea, with only few trees to give them shelter, and vast mountains I race between. Outside a hut, a boy is sitting on the fence and I show him my true might, try to lift him off his feet. He holds on, pulls his hood tight around his face—and smiles, cheeks red from my force. Unlike the others, his kind doesn’t mind; they embrace me; they adapt and welcome me, and go about their day with me amidst their tribe, as if I’m part of them.

I feel at home.

083. My Want. Jessica Klimesh

My own smell is at first comforting and then repulsive, the scent of pastry, cherry-apple craving, and too much sugar. Urge. Afterwards, I scold myself and try to scrub it off. A scalding shower, my skin burnt and crisp, my insides tender. But the stench—my want—lingers.

I’ve never broken any bones and, in elementary school, was jealous of the kids who had casts, and of my sister, who was prone to nosebleeds. I once dotted a Kleenex with red permanent marker, showed it to my mom. She said, “It’s late. You should be in bed.” Later, on a whim, I took a stapler to my toe. It didn’t hurt, but I was surprised by the blood, the way it pooled into a bubble, then stretched into a bright red circle, soaking through tissue after tissue before finally stopping.

Back then my want was odorless.

082. The Feeder. Fred Schwaller

We stand over the lake, you and I, pondering a midnight swim. We only just met, but already we reveal the widths of our hips, the breadth of thighs, the depths of back dimples. You could spoon cereal out of mine for breakfast, milk full to the brim, but barely a spoonful of porridge would rest in yours, not even a baked bean or a cornflake.

We wade out into the water sucking teeth. I swim easily, at home in the water that relieves the gravity from my body. You struggle to stay afloat, your angled shins and pencil thighs whirling around like bicycle spokes. I feel the seal to your colt.

I should be struck by the beauty of it all; the stars reflecting in the tarry water, shadows of tree fingers rippling in the sway. But all I can think about is that your bum that looks like a carrier bag that’s been rained on, that you could use your spine to squeeze out clay into wedges. You need plumping, fattening, marbled to fifty-pounds-a-kilo instead of your tough old skirt, on offer at one-ninety-nine.

Between gasping breaths you say that we should go back to shore, that you’re not a strong swimmer or a buoyant floater. Now we stand back on the dirt, hugging each other warm as the water shines off our bodies in the moonlight. A smile, a kiss, but the clothes are soon back on to stop you shivering.

In the morning we eat French toast spread with pools of butter, drink gold-top milk with extra whey. I watch over you to make sure you finish, insisting on second helpings. If I won’t get any thinner, you’ll just have to get fatter. What good are you without something to squeeze, without something to taste.