He was swimming through a sea of winds that spun and whirled without moving as they shouted, calling out to each other in panicked voices. Their cries buffeted him and sent him reeling from one to the other. Each burst burned, and although Matt tried to right himself, his body wouldn’t obey. Tossing and turning helplessly, he tried to understand, but their words sounded strange and twisted. Like the ones he knew but different.
They weren’t talking to him. Matt stopped struggling as he understood. They were calling out to each other, and he was the air they were shouting through. But where were they? Why were they afraid?
A pair of vices crushed his shoulders, and aches erupted through him, waking Matt with a start. He gasped, and his eyes popped open. His mom was leaning over him, silhouetted in the dim half-light. Her hands curved around his shoulders as she shook him gently.
“Matt, wake up.”
Matt flinched back from her, and the pain spread to his stomach. Closing his eyes, he tried to roll over, but his muscles refused. He flopped back into the bed like a fish out of water. With each twitch, energy leaked from his body like breath. As soon as he stopped moving though, the weight of his limbs pulled him downward. His eyelids fluttered once before he began to sink back into sleep.
There was a soft sound, and then a warm hand flattened against his chest. A familiar wind swept through him, cooling and soothing the burning aches to a dull throb. Matt groaned, and his eyes opened once more.
“Better?” his mother asked softly.
He nodded and groaned again as he pushed himself upright. That took all his energy, and he slumped against her side.
“Mm-hm,” he mumbled, breathing in her sweet floral scent and closing his eyes. Her lips brushed his forehead, and she hugged him briefly with a sigh before setting him upright and looking him in the eye.
“I know you’re tired,” she murmured, brushing his hair back from his face, “but you need to get up.”
“Yes, Mother,” he said, yawning in the middle of it. He remembered to cover his mouth before he finished. She half smiled then stood.
“Get dressed in your work clothes while I wake your sister.”