A response to RJ Clarken's "Monday Maelstrom" in Flashy Fiction.
The paper box under Esther's wingarm pulsed as the story wind buffeted the Maller box's insides and it's edges drummed with the pressure of the captured wind searching for an escape. Flock leader, Laila, balanced on the furthest branch of their flock's village tree where all of the fledglings could see her. Esther fidgeted on her branch, hoping her story might win her a compliment from Laila.
"And that is enough about plot for today. Who would like to share their story first?"
Bora raised a wingarm and waved it so vigorously that he shook the branch he was on and Tia slipped forward scrambling with her legs and hands to catch a finger hold in the bark to avoid being blown out over the canyon beyond the village tree. Esther bit her lip, it would feel good to get her story out there. She would be able to relax, but maybe it would be easier after someone else went. The down of her arm feathers rustled in the breeze.
"Yes, Bora, you are always ready to volunteer. Anyone else?" Esther looked away at the colored sands that swirled in clouds over the canyon. "Esther, your story looks anxious to get out."
"Yes, Laila." Esther lifted the box to her ear and heard the echoes of her voice caught in the story wind. She prayed that the class wouldn't laugh or jeer at her story and she wondered who her wind would choose as the speaker. She flicked the paper latch that held the Maller box closed and out swished her wind racing through the tree limbs in long loopy arcs. The class watched the story wind, grains of purplish sandstone making it easy to see the wind. The class hushed as they waited to see who the story wind would select as speaker. The story wind blew another lap through the outstretched leaves of the tree and around the students before it streaked into the canyon to merge with the other winds.
"'Tis an ill wind that blows no mind," said Bora. The other students chittered and Esther hung her head in shame. They said that when the winds chose not to tell the story that the Azaleas had taught to the wind, that even the wind had judged the story unworthy.
"No. You all are still learning, Esther don't listen to Bora. You must capture another wind and bring your story to us. Telling is the only way to improve your craft."
"Yes, Laila." Esther wasn't sure that she could return with a new wind tomorrow. What if it fled like the story wind had today?
Tia jumped to her feet and flapped her wings to keep her balance as she chattered about something down in the canyon. Maybe, Tia or Bora could tell their story now. The class would stop looking at her.
Elder Palta banked beside the branch that Laila stood upon and landed on his bare feet, the long toes grasping the branch. A purple wind swirled around Palta and at first Esther wondered whether it was her story wind, but story winds didn't corral Azaleas, especially not elders. The wind climbed into the air and then fell to engulf Palta and his voice boomed, shaking the leaves of the tree, as he voiced Esther's story.
Esther smiled, her story hadn't been unworthy. It just needed the proper voice.