They first met in a park. It was summer and people swarmed there to walk their dogs or have picnics or just sit in the sun. It was a city park with grass, a small lake and evil geese (not that there’s any other kind of geese). The North Wind wasn’t sure how she’d ended up there, but it seemed right, so she settled down to wait.
She first noticed the human girl’s aura. It made her stand out among the fairly mundane pinks and greens. They looked almost pastel next to the brightness of hers. It swirled around her like a blizzard, icy blue and white with brilliant sparks of silver.
The second thing the North Wind noticed about her was her hair. It was short, curly and a startling shade of blue, the likes of which she’d never seen on hair before. The human was sitting on a splintery, wooden park bench reading an awfully thick book.
She walked over, feigning a casual stroll. Inside she was conflicted and nervous. What do people say when they first meet? Was the blue-haired human really the right one for the task? What do I do if she’s not? Her mind churned out questions, each one adding to the worry growing there.
Unfortunately for the wind her time was up. She’d reached the park bench and stood there awkwardly for a moment, while she thought of what to say. The girl glanced up for a millisecond, she’d seen her. The wind knew she had to say something.
“Excuse me?” the wind interrupted, somewhat nervously. The girl looked up.
“What is it?” she asked, a bit peeved at being pulled away from her book.
“Do you mind if I share your park bench?” said the North Wind, relieved at having finally found something to say. The human murmured assent and went back to her book.
They sat there for a while, silent. The North Wind fiddled with the dry leaves, sent them spinning in a tiny, icy whirlwind. The girl shivered and reached for her coat. As she was putting it on she snuck another glance at the wind. The wind noticed and immediately stopped with her fiddling.
“What are you here for anyway?” the girl asked.
“Here on Earth or here in the park?” the wind replied, knowing the answer was the same either way.
“I’m tempted to say here on Earth, but I meant here at the park.” the girl responded, with a slight smile.
“I’m looking for someone.” the wind said, relaxing into the park bench.
“Who? What do they look like?” the human blurted, unable to restrain her curiosity any longer.
“That’s the problem. I don’t know.”
“Then how are you supposed to find them?” the girl wondered aloud.
“Oddly enough, I think it might be you.” the wind mumbled under her breath. The girl, in the grip of her curiosity heard every word.
“Oh.” she said thoughtfully. “I suppose we’d better do introductions then.” The wind sighed in relief. She knew how to do introductions, she’d studied.
“Aquilonia Ventus at your service.” she said, sitting back down once she was done speaking. The girl looked like she was holding back laughter.
“You don’t have to bow. I’m not royalty or anything.” The wind must have looked confused because she added “To be honest the only time I’ve ever heard of that being done was in the Hobbit.” Curses ran through Aquilonia’s head. All her introduction studies, wasted! “Still it was very polite.” the human mused.
“Umm... Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Anyways, I’m India.” She held out her hand and the wind looked at it curiously. It hung there in the space between them before India put it down, looking at her strangely. The bench began to vibrate. Aquilonia started, alarmed by the unfamiliar feeling.
“‘Scuse me.” she said as she pulled the device out of her pocket. “Hi Mom.” a pause. “Yeah, just give me a second okay?” another pause. “Love you too.”
India slipped the contraption back into her pocket. She addressed her next words to the wind.
“Listen, if I’m really who you’re looking for, come here on Sunday- 3:00. Meet me in that gazebo over there.” she pointed. The North Wind nodded and looked at the small shelter, fixing it in her memory. India turned, beginning to walk away. Aquilonia started to fade, being substantial was exhausting and she didn’t have much practice.
“Hey! Wait!” India called back. The wind jerked back to solidity.
“What?” she asked.
“Do you play chess?” the human’s pocket made a bell like noise. “Never mind. I’ll teach you if you don’t.” she shouted, just before she turned the corner and disappeared.
* * * * * *
On the way home India thought of the girl she’d met at the park. There was something odd about that girl. Maybe it was her method of introducing herself. She must be a really good actress or... Or what? Very sheltered? No one was so sheltered they didn’t know what a handshake was, at least not in America. Was it risky to invite her to play chess?
Her mother’s voice broke through her reverie.
“So how was the park?”
“Fine” she replied vaguely, still thinking about the girl. Not ‘the girl’. Her mind corrected itself : Aquilonia. It’s a strange name, but it’s more polite to use a person’s name, even just in your head.
“Hello? Earth to India.” her mom said.
“What?” India responded, confused.
“I just asked you a question.”
“Sorry, I didn’t catch it.”
“Didn’t catch it? I think it went right over your head.” Mrs. Grey teased.
“Just tell me the question.” she answered, pretending to be frustrated.
“I asked you what you were thinking about, but you were so concentrated on whatever it was that you didn’t hear me.”
“I was thinking of... nothing in particular. What are you thinking of?” India said, trying to pull her away from this line of inquiry.
“This conversation, driving, dinner. That’s about it. You must be concentrating very hard on nothing in particular.”“I am.”
“You rarely think of nothing in particular. What are you really thinking of?” her mom asked, knowing she was onto something. India fidgeted in her seat. She knew she’d have to ask permission to go anyway.
“Can I go back to the park on Sunday?”
“Why?” Mrs. Grey said suspiciously.
“I-met-someone-at-the-park-and-invited-them-to-meet-me-on-Sunday.” she said this very quickly, and not very loudly. Unluckily for India, her mother was well versed in this tactic, having used it when she was a teenager.
“Who are they? What are they like? Are they male or female? Are they interested too?” she pelted her daughter with questions, not giving her time to answer any of them.
“MOM!” India yelled cutting off the stream. “In no way is this romantic! I’m not interested in dating anyone. And I don’t think she’s interested in me that way anyway.” Her mom looked a bit disappointed.
“But what is she like? She must be interesting, right?” she asked, getting it over it quickly.
“Enigmatic. To you anyway.” India said, sullenly.
“What’s her name?” India was losing this and she knew it, so she gave up.
“Aquilonia Ventus.” She tripped up a little. God, that’s a hard name to say.
“That’s a bit of a mouthful.” her mother mused. “Sounds Latin to me.”
“Yeah, I guess it does.” India agreed. “But she didn’t look Italian. Actually, she looked more Scandinavian to me.”
“Scandinavian?” Mrs. Grey prompted.
“She has waist length silver-blond hair, lightning blue eyes, pale skin, red cheeks- kind of like she’s overheating-, no freckles.
“She’s tall. Taller than I am.” India wasn’t short but she wasn’t tall either. Sort of average, actually.
“So if you’re done interrogating me, will you drive me on Sunday?”
“Sure, but only if you tell me about your chess game.”
“How did you know about that?” India’s mom tapped her temple.
“You cheater. You said we were sticking to verbal this week.”
“I’m kidding, India. Your phone’s still calling me, you never hung up.” India checked and turned the phone off, glaring.
“I hate this thing”, the girl said stepping out of the car and closing the door.
“I know.” Mrs. Grey answered.]
* * * * * *
The next few days were tedious, at least for Aquilonia. She didn't know when Sunday or 3:00 was, but it couldn't be too long, right? She decided to sit in a nearby tree and wait for India. Unfortunately for Aquilonia, she’d chosen a tree with an extremely talkative dryad. He didn't want to do anything but babble on about himself. It was a relief when she finally glimpsed India’s hair through the branches.
* * * * * *