Microfiction Monday: The North Wind

Today’s story is one I have told before, in a different setting. See, there’s a reason my camp name is Goose, and it’s only partially because of my love of geese: I get called Mother Goose at camp because at least once a week I get called to a unit to tell a bedtime story. I never tell the same story twice; I make them up as I go. One night in my sixth summer, I told this story, and after the kids had left the circle, one of my coworkers scooted close to me on the bench and buried her face in my shoulder–she’d been silently crying the whole time. “I know how the North Wind felt,” she said in between sobs. “I know what it’s like.”

So did I.

Once upon a time in a city far above the fields of men, where the clouds tumble and tangle, the North Wind was very unhappy indeed. Her sister the South Wind had many friends down on earth, for her long golden hair smelled of the flowers that bloomed in her wake and her easy laugh sounded like the drenching summer rains that fell wherever she went. Her brothers the East Wind and West Wind also had many friends, for they were loud and lively and made up entirely of bright sunny days. But the North Wind was seldom welcome down in the fields of men. Wherever she went, ice followed, delicate frost-lace blooming wherever her feet fell, and where she slept, snow fell in the night, great sparkling white blankets that draped over the land. When she went down to earth, people fled before her, disappearing into their homes and locking the doors against her entreaties, building their fires higher and higher to drown out her pleas from beyond their walls. After a while, the North Wind stopped trying to make friends, and simply wandered from place to place, bringing winter with her.

The North Wind spent all her days alone and unhappy…until the day she discovered the boy.

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THAT student.

On a chilly day in January 2009 I found myself signing up for classes at the community college near my hometown in NC. I had previously attended a 4-year university about 4 hours from my home, and was, frankly, still stunned over how quickly my life had changed when I had finally told my parents that I just could not go back to that school, that my mental health just couldn’t handle it anymore. Somewhere underneath the blank pale mask of shock was anger, thrumming low and deep, that I had to take a college algebra class before I could work on any of my dreaded math requirements. I didn’t want to take an algebra class, I didn’t want to take any math class that I didn’t have to, because math wasn’t just something I loathed, it was something I feared: I had been diagnosed with dyscalculia the previous spring, and I still wasn’t entirely sure that there was even a place for someone like me in the science world.

In hindsight, that math class is possibly the best damn thing that ever happened to me. Because I learned not just how to finally do math I was supposed to figure out in high school (and never did), I learned a lot about, well, learning.

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