Glenn Riviera lives in Cirus, a wild and hostile land of the Wind in the world of Twyne. Here birds are revered as enhancers of the wind and some Faris are Granted that ability too. Glenn only wants to be free but soon she is tied on a purpose that cannot be avoided ...


5. Mean


Rash. Stupid. Reckless. My decisions.

I let it get out of control – not for the first time – and now I’m wondering through the near opaque blackness of the forest, waiting for the harsh cold to freeze my fire. I can’t seem to ignore her acts of complete injustice. I can’t seem to sit and take her foolish nonsense or allow her to impose her will on others with unfeeling cruelty. Should I remain silent and impassive – obeying?

Umber does. She does something I don’t, because I know she can’t stand unkindness, but she still allows it to happen. Is that weak… no it’s clever, caring. Umber can see the bigger picture whereas I cannot see past the pulse of red. She thinks about how actions have consequences, repercussions – and thinks about the most passive way to solve things. I like going in with my fists raised. She’s better than that – than me.

I have no coat and dawn is very far away.

I can hear the rumbling growl of the thunder that is prowling our way. The mighty wind is careering through the forest much faster than before and, previously delicate, snowflakes now pelt the ground. Deeply I breathe in air, which is thick and oppressed, smelling like snow and ice. The storm has arrived.

All this time I have been hurrying through the forest, on a route embedded in my memory. I must make it to my hide before the wrath of the storm really takes hold, but with the blizzard of flakes impeding my vision and my fingers and toes turning to ice, I struggle to navigate anywhere. Once again I chide myself for my foolishness and hasty departure. I hope Umber doesn’t worry. She the only one who would – it’s in her nature – but I’m not really worth it. 

Finally I reach solace. Just as the roar of the thunder grows above me and the snow begins to ceaselessly assault everything, I dive inside my small den and drag the branches across the opening. It’s suddenly dark and calm, a musty, green smell fills my nostrils. The quiet inside my hide compared to the raging world outside sets me on edge and I fumble through the dried leaves and spare blankets in search of my flints. On finding them, I light the pre-set open fire, watching as the sparks jump from stone to dry wood. Shivering and boldly sticking my hands close to the new flames, I warp myself into a blanket before burying myself in the rustling leaves.  

My thoughts wonder and I force myself to not dwell on what just happened, rather something better. I remember when I first met a particular friend of Umber’s. I don’t have any friends, but what use are they really? I’m not trying to sound like a poor, lost, misunderstood soul but it’s just no-one gets me. They’re all too scared. With reason, I guess. Except him.


I stand apart from the group of youngers who are playing a ridiculous game, involving a lot of squabbling. I’m not here to play – even if I was they wouldn’t let me – but I watch my sister who is among the small crowd of bystanders. She stands next to a tall boy with tanned skin and sandy brown hair. He looks a little older than Umber, who is eleven winters at this point. Every now and then he glances quickly down at Umber without turning his head away from the direction of the game. She continues to observe the scene before her, oblivious.

There are two boys who stand in a wobbly drawn ring and they eat hold a thin light weight stick. At the moment they are arguing fervently as to the unfairness of one stick being longer than the other. The boy with the longer stick argues that he has a disadvantage – of course – whilst the other says he should have found a longer stick. It’s really very silly as what they aim to do in the end is have a pretend “duel”, even though they’re not really going to hit each other hard.  I’m not here to watch them though.

Eventually they get on with it, raising their “weapons” until they are poised at shoulder height. Fortunately, neither of them knows what they are doing. Unfortunately, one of them will probably get his eye poked out. Umber is frowning at this now, most likely wondering why violence is fun and yet she doesn’t leave. Point proven?

Slowly, the boys begin to circle each other, their faces set with determination and tension, as though this were the most important thing that ever happened.


Their sticks connect as one swings at the other. After the first few blows, they begin to just flail wildly at their opponent and hope that they might hit them. Not the best strategy.

I begin to lose interest as finally the fight ends and the “boy with the longer stick” wins and the other one whines terribly. The winner seems about twelve winters and tall with dark hair. Bathing in the glow of his victorious moment he becomes bold and calls brazenly, “hey girl, where are you going? I’m better than anything you’ve seen.”

I was just turning to leave so now I spin and access him. I guess I’m not that surprised, even though no one ever talks to me, as he just wants attention and shouting at me attracts a lot. I look at him and see he can only do this as he has everyone behind him. Everyone but Umber, who looks a bit worried and confused.

“Don’t you wanna have a go?” he says with fake genuine before grinning, “oh no, cause you’re a coward.” Now I eye him sharply. I try to convince myself I don’t care what he thinks, but that’s pretty hard when he’s standing sneering at me. I don’t want to be called anything but my name (which he is neglecting to use and he knows it!)

I continue to stare at him. If he says anything else I might get angry.

He does just that.

“Wait maybe your pretty sister wants a go,” he laughs and puts an arm round Umbers fragile shoulders, pushing her tall companion out of the way. She looks up at him bewildered, her eyes wide and questioning. My jaw tenses and I fist my hands. He knows right where to hit me.

“Naah, she’s too stupid!” he chuckles.

I lose it then.

Without thinking I march up to him, cold anger flowing through me. He just grins wider, but he doesn’t know what’s coming. Suddenly I pull my fist back and punch him right in the nose. There’s a loud crack as I connect, my knuckles flare up in pain. Though, I can guarantee his face hurts more – substantially more. He recoils clutching his now weakly bleeding nose and lets out a strangled squeal. I glance at Umber momentarily and see that her eyes are wide as she stumbles away. Inwardly I sigh. Luckily the tall sandy haired boy is there to catch her because I’m not quite done yet.

The unfortunate, and now injured boy, has only just managed to stand again before I pounce on him. We tumble to the floor and I kick, scratch and hit him any way I can. My lips explode in pain as he flails and catches me in the mouth. He’s fighting back now trying to punch me, push me off him. But now I’ve straddled him, pinning his arms with my knees, and I grab the collar of his raggedy shirt. I snarl at him and he attempts to stare back defiantly, but I can see the defeat behind bravado.  

“I win,” I spit out, real close to his face, even though winning wasn’t the point, but he doesn’t seem to like losing so I decide to wear him down. With that I shove him once more to the floor and stand. I don’t bother to look at the youngers that surround our little scene, as I don’t need admiration like the boy who lies beaten on the floor.

I walk to where Umber is clinging to the sturdy arm of the tall boy. She looks at me with a mix of soft disapproval and shock. I’m about to prise her away from her friend, to take her home, when something stops me.

“Yer mean!” the boy, she clings to, says frankly. Only then do I look at him properly, sandy brown curls that flop over his narrowed but bright lilac and gold eyes. He’s taller than me – just – with tan skin and a good-looking face. I stare back at him with an equally neutral expression, before grunting, without breaking eye contact, “Yeah…”


All of a sudden a huge, genuine smile lights up his face showing rows of pretty white teeth and he continues to stare penetratingly at me. I can’t help but grin back crookedly as we somehow connect without words.

“I’m Umber’s friend, Yanic,” he informs me, as though I asked. I nod, before peeling Umber from his side and pulling her home. He’s still smiling.

My knuckles hurt.


Things have moved on since then. I not so fast to beat just anyone up, but I still remember what Yanic said. I’m mean. I guess that’s about right.


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