Winds always did woo badly.
Eyes large and dark-lashed, a grin like a wolf, she could not help but catch the eye. He saw her swimming in her complex’s pool and made the mistake of shivering through the trees.
“Is it winter already?” She murmured, and with that she was out, dressed and gone. There was nothing to do but bring a courting gift—the best of fall leaves on her apartment doorstep, some brilliant, some dark with decay.
“At least the fall is beautiful,” she admitted, and the wind smiled, for she had liked both the golden and the grey.
He could swear she heard him when he spoke to her. When he met her, (he claims by chance), he sometimes told her the wind himself admired her for all she did. And while she had rolled her eyes more than once, hadn’t she also bought a bright red kite? Best of all are the gifts that can be shared.
Certainly no one looks up Boreas and “stress-induced auditory hallucinations” in the same hour by chance?
She was kind, strong, incomprehensibly solid, and she sang as though she were dying. One winter night, he realized he did not know her name and howled outside her windows, begging for syllables.
She turned up the heat, and checked the locks.
“Fuck this noise,” she muttered, closing the curtains. A clear dismissal. He heard her swearing as she warred with her long winter socks.
The wind decided that perhaps the Upper East side, and not Brooklyn, needed a chill that night.
The peak of winter, and therefore his power. She had begun to flirt with a coworker, and he realized he must take drastic measures if he was to catch her attention. Bone and flesh did not come easily to him, at first; and it took longer still to become handsome—symmetry never did come naturally—then striking, then finally himself.
Mediocrity reflected in a lover’s eyes was, he decided, the worst of curses. The blue of this scarf suited him. Didn’t it?
He knocked on the door. She had already taken off her bra and her makeup, and was none too interested in guests. The deadlock remained well in place.
“Selling something?” she drawled. He held a stolen shawl in his hands, a peace offering.
(The North Wind of New York steals scarves from plenty of people, and resents the South Wind’s accusation of “childlike infatuation” as the cause of this particular theft. “You should see the Eastern Wind of New York’s hat collection,” he has said, defensively, when asked.)
“I was wondering where that got off to,” she growled. “You know it has my name on the tag.”
He swallowed. His hair forgot, for a moment, what he had told it to be, climbed ruefully over his eyes.
“It’s not a kind thing,” she told him. “Stealing a woman’s name.”
“It was not my intention,” he answered. “I haven’t read it,” he added, and this seemed to placate her. She looked the shawl over, as though she would be able to read in it the honesty of his heart. Satisfaction, curiosity, consideration.
“You could always ask for my name, you know.” He could see the wolf now, quiet and patient in her eyes. Perhaps one of her ancestors was a witch. Perhaps not just one of her ancestors.
He began to smile. He could not quite remember how to speak; it had been so long, and he was, most recently, a fox rather than a man.
“You look cold,” she said. He leaned forward. She closed the door.
On it, her name, precious as first snow.
(The North Wind of New York, again, denies all claims of infatuation.)
The sound of the deadlock being undone.
“Are you sure we’ve never met before?” She asked. “Besides the, uh, scarf stealing.”
“Which, I might add, was entirely accidental,” he said. She snorted, looked him over with tentative familiarity.
“So you… live around here?”
“You’re not… crazy, are you?” I’m not crazy, am I? The unspoken question.
“I make no promises,” he replied. She rolled her eyes.
“Well, I’ve got a taser and some hot chocolate,” she decided. “Since you do look half-frozen. But I’ll only let you in on one condition.” She tilted her head, biting her lip.
“Anything,” he said, knowing full well he had almost nothing to offer.
“Your name,” she replied. He bowed his head to hide his smile.