Ila Harp slammed her locker door and turned to face her nemesis, Jason. “You could call me Ila. It’s more polite, you know.” Icicles dripped from her words as she pushed past him.
“I’m sorry, Ila.”
“Then why do you do it?” she demanded.
“It’s just that you’re more like a Harp than an Ila.” Jason hung his head.
“Well, a harp is a beautiful instrument,” he began. “It’s graceful and curvy…”
“And you want to play me,” Ila interrupted. “I’m no fool, Jason.”
“That’s not what I mean!”
Some of the other Phineas High students gathered to watch what could become a knock-down, intense argument. Jason and Ila were more than a match for each other. They excelled at debate and often faced each other in class for practice. Pity the team that dared to challenge the Argonaut debaters if Jason and Ila joined forces. Which they would.
Jason took a deep breath to gather his thoughts and squelch his temper. “If you let me finish, what I was about to say is that, like a harp, you move through life like a restless breeze, tickling the wind chimes and rustling the tree boughs. And you have a power I can’t fathom. Don’t be angry. Please.”
Ila blushed at Jason’s very public compliments. “Okay, you can call me Harp anytime you want, as long as nobody else does.” She turned her fury on the gathered students. “Got that, guys?” Then she swept past the bank of lockers, down the hall, and toward her next classroom.
Jason followed at a safe distance. He wanted to catch up to Ila and walk her to the weather lab. Suddenly, she stopped, and he almost bumped into her. At the same time, the tornado warning alarm began to bleat.
“All students proceed in an orderly fashion to the tornado shelter. This is not a drill.” The announcement blared over the siren and the panicked chatter of the students.
“Come on, Harp!” Jason reached for her hand as she moved toward the double doors, which led to the parking lot. “Nooo! It’s not safe out there!” He ran after her, but she raced down the hall. Even the approaching storm could not have outrun her.
Ila slammed into the doors and forced them open. She felt, rather than saw, Jason close behind her. She had to protect him. She slammed the doors shut in front of him. Where were her sisters? “Celene! Patty! Portia! I need you!” she called out.
A rope of whirling cloud snaked to the ground less than a mile away. Debris spewed from the treacherous storm. The ill wind devoured everything in its path and threatened to hit the high school with a force so strong it would decimate the school and all those still in it.
She couldn’t wait. Ila ran and bounded as she ripped off her jacket and unfurled her wings. She took to the skies to face the tempest, a tiny gnat flying into the giant whirlwind.
Ila fought her way to the top, looking for the center around which the winds twirled. She spied an opening from her vantage point above the tumultuous cloud and flew into it. With her arms and wings outstretched, she allowed the funnel to spin her until she got her bearings. Once she reached the optimum spot, she furled her wings and tucked her arms close to her body. Now, the tornado could no longer rip them from their sockets.
Momentarily suspended halfway between the earth and the top of the clouds, Ila took a deep breath and wondered what to do next. She had to tame the winds before they could destroy the people she had begun to love. Especially Jason! He loved her back, and from that knowledge, she gathered the strength to unravel the funnel cloud from the inside.
Her sister Patti appeared and flew around the outside of the twister in search of Ila. She did what she could to turn the storm away. She flew up and down and back and forth in the tempest’s path to prevent it from continuing its present course. Its direction changed, but Patti knew it wasn’t enough to save the children sheltered inside the school.
Celene flew up to approach Patti and survey the situation. She shrugged and started to take off for parts unknown, but Ila’s voice penetrated the giant wind and cried for help. Celene knew she didn’t dare turn her back on her sister, so she landed and conjured a counter storm to do battle with the one in front of her.
The last sister to appear was Portia. She called on her husband, Master of the West Wind, to come to their aid. He arrived in a fury and blew the mighty storm out of the school’s path.
All the sisters’ actions worked together to send the tornado back into the skies, defeated. Patty, Celene, and Portia retracted Ila’s wings into her back, covered them with the jacket she had shed earlier, and disappeared in an instant. Ila fell to the ground, unconscious.
Jason ran to Ila, who lay collapsed in the middle of the park across from the school. He held her gently until she opened her eyes and smiled at him.
“You’re crazy, Harp,” he whispered as he stroked her forehead.
“I just wanted to see that awesome wind up close,” she replied.
Note: This month’s Blog Battle word is “harp.” After some thoughts, most of which I rejected, I decided to delve deeper into the legendary Harpies of Greek mythology. Twelve pages and four websites later, I took the information I gathered, modernized the story, went with the prettier creatures (and made them a bit more benevolent, as well), and updated their names the best I could to match present-day customs. As an afterthought, I decided the boyfriend should be Jason and the school named Phineas High.