Lightning strobed across her walls. Thunder shook the windows. Addie threw back the covers and leapt out of bed. Heart pounding, she reached for the curtains and yanked them fully open. The storm-shadowed dawn revealed rain driven nearly sideways by wind that roiled through gaunt trees, whipping and scattering branches. Nothing in her life could compare to the gales roaring inland from the Atlantic.
With shaking hands, Addie shoved open the window. From the bluff at the end of their property, the sound of surf crashing over rocks echoed through her room until the crack and roll of advancing thunder drowned it out.
She hesitated a moment, then unable to help herself, yanked on a jacket and raced into the hall.
“Addie!” Her twin’s voice stopped her. He was there already, struggling into his own jacket, leaning against the doorjamb with his forearm crutches half-cuffed to help support him.
She grinned. “Coming?”
He nodded. Together, they moved down the hall as quickly Jacob’s unwieldy body would allow.
“Jacob?” Their father’s sleepy voice reached them. “Everything okay?”
Addie clapped a hand over her mouth to stop her rising giggles.
“G..going to the ba..athroom, Dad,” Jacob called out.
Nothing but soft snores replied.
“You know, th..there isn’t another t..teenager in the u..universe going into a storm like this,” he whispered.
“That’s because we are the most amazing teens in the universe,” Addie retorted.
“The m..most insane…” Jacob rolled his eyes, but gestured ahead with his crutch. Addie grinned and hurried down the hall. Behind her, Jacob’s crutches made soft thuds on the worn carpet; she moved only a little ahead to steady him if he lost his balance on the stairs.
At the kitchen door Addie yanked on her boots, then pushed Jacob onto a chair to help jam his over his bare feet.
“Good?” she asked.
“Y..yeah.” His eyes gleamed in a sudden flash of lightning.
Outside, the wind blasted across the land, nearly knocking them both over. Addie grabbed Jacob’s arm and they leaned into the gale. Overhead, another crackle of lightning hurtled at the contorted woods. A distant tree exploded. Thunder blasted their ears.
“Th..this may not be s..safe!” Jacob shouted in her ear.
“But it’s glorious,” Addie answered, pulling him along the path to the bluff. “It’s in our blood!”
“W..we’re in..insane.” Jacob yelled.
The gusting wind would have hurtled them onto the rocks below, but they clung to the thrashing trees. Black clouds fought their way across the sky, hurling ribbons of lightning into the heaving Atlantic.
In seconds, Addie and Jacob were drenched. They laughed breathlessly, sucking in the salty air, clinging to the trees, rough bark scraping their hands and cheeks, driven droplets stinging their faces. For long moments, they simply rocked with the trees, reveling the power of the elements around them. Then Addie let go of the trunk and using the wind, swayed across the sodden grass.
Addie gave no sign she had heard. She was being carried upward on the wind, soaring across the waves, enthralled by the bitter spray sheeting her skin. On and on, over sea and land, all the elements of the world cradling and holding her.
And then the exultation abruptly ebbed away and she crouched, shivering, on the ground.
The worst of the storm had passed, moving north along the Nova Scotia coast to the St. Laurence. She could hardly stand. Breath coming in gasps now, Addie got to her feet and supported herself against a spiky black spruce.
“I know it’s crazy,” she said to Jacob now that he wind had dropped away. “But this makes me feel so alive.” Her voice felt scratched and raw.
He nodded, tossed back his sopping hair and looked at his watch. “W..we have to get ready for s..school.”
That struck Addie as crazy funny, and she began to laugh. Jacob only half-smiled, his own face lined with fatigue. Addie took his shaking arm, and together they made their way through the dripping ferns and brambles, back to the house. Storms were her thing. She couldn’t resist them. But Jacob never let her face them alone, no matter how exhausting it was for him.
Inside the kitchen, she crouched, gently pulled off his boots and set them upside down on a heat register. Chances were their dad would never notice.
When their mom had disappeared, Jim Medway had moved what was left of the family to Port St. George, the last place Audra Medway had been seen. After the frenzy of activity to uproot them and haul their belongings to this old clapboard house on the bluff, their Dad had completely shut down. Addie knew he would not notice the tiredness etching Jacob’s thin face, not pick up on how much she despised this town with its sagging houses, dreary general store, and the gossipy, mean-spirited people who made it their business to demonstrate that they didn’t take to strangers.
As she helped Jacob manoeuver up the uneven staircase, Addie wondered yet again, why, for heaven’s sake, had their dad propelled them into this place? It wasn’t like anyone expected their mom to show up after all this time. Did he even guess how first their mother and now he had messed up their lives? Did he care? The high school was awful and the rocky terrain was torture for Jacob. Her brother hated his wheelchair and worked crazy hard at being able to walk despite the ups and downs of this oceanside town.
His life was hard enough without their parents messing them up even more, Addie thought resentfully.
Snores still drifted from their father’s room. With a sigh of relief, Jacob dropped his crutches and stretched out on his bed. Addie got a towel from the hall closet, and tossed it to him.
“You can sleep for a bit,” she told him. “I’m too wound up. I’ll wake you in time to get ready for school.”
He barely nodded before his eyes drifted shut.
Feeling a stab of guilt, Addie went back to her own room, and sat at the window watching the last dregs of the storm skulking across the ocean. She had a clear view of the bay from here, could see the steel grey water chopping over barriers, the uneven waves dropping lower with each curl over the shore.
The only good thing about Port St. George, Addie thought, was the ocean and the wind-whipped storms. The kind their mother had loved. The kind that sent Addie’s blood singing and boiling. The kind that made her feel how different she was from other teens.
Leaning on her elbows, Addie breathed in the salt-laden air. She was too like her mother. No matter how much she hated the Port St. George and the kids she’d met, she felt more alive here than ever before. It was like the gusty sea air was building muscle into her body and intelligence into her brain. If she could bring her mom back and deport all the other residents, Addie thought, it would be about perfect.
But it was Monday and the whole damn town, as represented by their kids, awaited her.
She showered and pulled on clean clothes, then heard the shower running for her brother. Despite the storm, they were pretty close to on time. “Yay us,” Addie murmured, “I’m so excited we get to go to school again.”
She strolled into the kitchen and got out bowls of cereal for Jacob and herself. A moment later their father wandered into the kitchen, still unshaven, still wearing that bewildered look that Addie privately thought would be her own expression just as a truck ran her over. He had completely fallen apart when his wife left, even taken a leave from teaching at Dalhousie University.
“Are you getting a school lunch today?” he asked.
“No, Dad. I’ll do PB and J,” Addie answered. “Like every day.”
“Ah, and Jacob?”
“No matter how bad it is, he’ll get the school lunch…same as he does every day,” Addie said. “I think he likes the way the lunch ladies make the other kids carry his tray to their table. Jacob wins all the prizes for subtle.”
“Yes…” Her father smiled slightly. “He does know how to get along. Shall I make you a sandwich, Adara?” he asked.
He stared at the loaf of bread Addie had taken from the cupboard as if it was some strange mythological beast.
She hesitated. “Sure dad.” Her father might be a world-class expert on Celtic and Norse mythology, but he made lousy sandwiches. She pushed the bread and jars toward him. “It would be great if you didn’t forget the peanut butter today.”
Her father raised his eyebrows and half-smiled. “I’m working on my sandwich-making skill set.” He stared at the ingredients until Addie put a knife down in front of him.
“Ah,” he murmured. “The missing piece of the puzzle.”
Dragons of Waves and Wind will be released in 2018.
If you enjoyed this story, check out my other free short dragon stories: For Love of a Dragon, the story of how Addie and Jacob's father rescued and fell in love with their mother, Wonder Woman and the Dragons, Dragon Dreams, Nell and the Ice Dragon and Dragon Love. My full-length novels Dragons of Desert and Dust and Dragons of Frost and Fire are available in paperback, Kindle and other ebook platforms.