Wind Town 1.9

             With each round, the trembling grew worse. By the eleventh, Matt’s breaths came in tearing gasps. He kept thinking that if he could only catch his breath, he’d be ok, but the wind was impatient. By the twenty-fourth, his legs were so shaky his run looked like a drunk at midnight. He barely made it to the frisbee in time. Like Sarah before him, he face-planted into the hard earth and sharp grasses. The impact blasted what little air he had out of his lungs, and he wheezed for a second, lying on the ground like road kill.
            A restless breeze moved over his back. Slumping to the side, Matt lifted his head.
            “Yeah, I know.” He pushed himself onto his knees. “I’m coming.”
            In a surge of energy, he made it to his feet. The momentum made him sway and stumble. But he held on to the frisbee.
            “That’s enough.”
            It took a minute for the voice to register in Matt’s foggy brain. When it did, he turned so fast he almost knocked himself over.
            “Mom!”
            She was standing between him and the barn with her purse over her shoulder, looking more like she was going shopping than standing in a fallow field watching her son play frisbee with the wind. As Matt adjusted to the shock of seeing her there, he became aware that the wind had stilled again. Oh, no.
            “Mom, I promised I would play, and-“
            “I know, dear,” she interrupted him firmly, giving him a stern glance that made his mouth snap shut with a click. “But it’s dinner time. Play-time is over.”
            That horrible pressure filled the air again, and Matt could hardly swallow against the panic. He opened his mouth to protest, but again, the look his mother gave him stunned him to silence.
            “I know you want to keep playing,” her tone gentled, and Matt started when he realized that she wasn’t talking to him. “That’s why I brought you a present.”
            Woodenly, Matt stared as her hand reached into her purse and pulled out… was that a pinwheel? Would that work? Even as he goggled, the wind began to move, rushing around them in a tone that Matt could only call excited. It swirled around her hand, lifting the gift up and spinning it through the air. Matt collapsed against his knees and stared in bewilderment.
            He didn’t notice his mom striding toward him until her arms were around him in a fierce hug. The frisbee slid out of his numb hands and rattled on the ground as Matt wrapped his arms around her and held on. As she pressed her face to his hair, Matt thought he heard her breathe, “you idiot,” but it was so quiet he wasn’t sure. Before he could wrap his mind around the tension radiating off of her, she shifted so that she was half supporting him and started for home, practically pulling him along.
              She almost had to. Matt’s feet might as well have been encased in concrete. Each step felt that heavy and awkward. He had to focus so hard on lifting and placing his feet that he had no choice but to trust her to guide him.
            “Almost there,” his mom whispered.
            Surprised, Matt raised his head and saw the porch only a little bit away. Although the walk had felt like an eternity, he’d been sure they hadn’t gone very far. Now, the sight of the house lit a fire in him. With renewed energy, he impelled his worn body across the yard, stumbled up the steps, and basically fell through the door. There, he simply slid down to the ground.
            Safe. They were all safe.

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