A long time ago, there was a small girl named Mit. She liked to play outside in the dirt and throw grass in the air and climb all the way to the third branch of the pine tree by her house. Once when she was sitting, breathless and triumphant against the quiet dusk, on that third branch, the whole tree was blown by a great and fierce wind. The wind said, “Mit, if you climb to the fourth branch of the pine tree you will be higher than ever, and I could blow you down to the ground. But if you climb to the fifth, you can ride me to faraway lands.”
Mit listened to the wind, and thought about its offer. She was dreadfully afraid of being blown down to the ground, but how exciting to see faraway lands! She’d never ridden any winds before, though she had dreamed once of a breeze that whirled children from their homes to lands they had never known. She set her jaw and reached for the next branch, rough and ridged and sticky with sap. She hauled her body up over it, draped herself over the branch like a wet towel and swung until she had hooked a leg over it, and could hoist herself up. Sitting, she shouted with the glee of reaching new heights, breathing in deep to slow her thumping heart, smelling the lovely tang of her tree.
The tree shook. The wind threatened, rocking the whole pine back and forth, and Mit with it. And then she felt breezy fingers swipe gently at her face and brush back her hair. “No, little Mit, I will not knock you down now. Can you get to the next branch?”
Mit nodded to the wind she couldn’t see, and reached up until her fingers could feel the next branch, just barely visible in the beginning of night. She wrapped her hands around it and let go with her legs and hung from the high fifth branch, legs dangling. She panted and pulled and squirmed and finally her elbows were crooked around the branch, then it was under her armpits, and she was exhausted but proud as she hoisted herself up. The wind wrapped around her, pleased, and lifted her off the tree in one breathtaking swoop and Mit crowed in delight as the tree and the ground shrank beneath her toes.
The wind and Mit whirled over her house, small in the distant earth below, and flew through clouds. They traveled first to the next town. Mit clapped her hands to see the windows lit, the chimneys puffing smoke into wisps, the dark figure sneaking into the general store. And then the wind sped and her hair streamed back and the air was cold around her and they flew far, and fast. The wind slowed to show her the scenes of busy men scurrying to carry boxes back and forth at a harbor, the crisscrossing activity of a city street, the grassy calm of stretching fields and lazy cows. Mit would point and the wind would pause, then accelerate after her finger’s direction.
The wind brought her to a tall stone tower in the capital city of the farthest country away, and set her gently on the roof. Mit watched in awe as the people set up the marketplace far below where she was standing. The awnings erected and the tables laid out, the vendors sat back to avoid the sun rising, warm against Mit’s back. She watched people begin to fill the smooth-paved square, ambling in or striding purposefully, watched the loud dispute between a fruit seller and a wrinkled man over an apple that was apparently rotten, and expensive at that. She watched two women talk animatedly over a table strung with bloody cuts of meat, occasionally swatting at the mosquito or small child that strayed over for attention. How funny people were! The wind blew circles around her, murmuring, watching too. The neglected children played tag, and Mit stretched her fingers wistfully at them. The wind gathered up under her, and lifted her off the tiles of the roof. Instead of bringing her down to the game of tag, though, it whisked her in the other direction, away from the marketplace and the fruit and the children. She cried out in loss, struggling toward them, but subsided against the firm gentle grasp of the wind around her. The wind carried her over colorful shapes that were fields, and the clusters of towns, and big puddles that would be lakes closer up. Mit relaxed and curled up and watched the landscape pass beneath her lazily, closed her eyes for the breeze against her face and the scent of spring.
The wind brought her back past the town next to hers, where the windows were mostly dark and the chimneys had mostly died down and a worried crowd was gathering around the general store. It pulled her back into her own town and over the roof of her own house, where all the lights were on and she could hear a mutter of voices. The wind brought her back to her tree. Her parents – the voices she had heard – were standing huddled by the house, staring toward it. The wind set her down and its breeze stroked her face and she stared too, at the broken shape crumpled under the broken branches of her tree. She stared until she understood, and then the breeze lifted her away.