Ivy at 100

By Jeremy

(This is posted as it was sent, with spelling and grammar preserved. Notes from me are footnoted and explained at the bottom!)

     The cool, frosty air of the hospital gave way to the balmy summer night air as Ivy stepped through the automatic door, a door she could have easily moved with her own mind if it hadn’t been so obliging. Her head hung low as she stepped out into the hot August night; sweat immediately began to rise to the surface of her skin. Even though the bright city lights mostly concealed the stars, she still had a spectacular view from the eighteenth floor veranda. Of course, that paled in comparison to the view she had when she was flying high up in the sky. Right now, though, even that feeling of complete bliss and freedom that came from soaring up into the air couldn’t console her. Two days after turning 100 years old, her last remaining living relative, a second cousin, was on death’s door. 1

     A small tear began to slowly grow in the corner of her left eye as she thought about all the friends and family of hers that had passed on over the years – the decades: Adele, Max, Nina, Ruben, Weaver, Alix, Neptune, Dax, even Tab and Thursday; also deceased were her parents, cousins, countless other friends and acquaintances, and even Nicholas, the old wind man, who seemed like the kind of person who would live forever, succumbed to his mortality when Ivy was sixty. She had scattered his ashes – on the wind – as per his request, which he presented to her shortly before his demise. And then there was Zeke. His death probably hit Ivy the hardest. It was all too sudden; she didn’t have time to prepare. She watched most of the others slowly waste away from disease, but Zeke . . . it was a massive heart attack one night during a dinner party. Ivy was there, at his house, talking to his wife, a woman that Ivy envied even though she didn’t dare admit it to anybody, even herself. The tear fell to the concrete as she thought of that horrible night. Even though Ivy had seen much death before that night, she never once thought Zeke, too, would leave her, would go so suddenly. Poor, poor Zeke. Ivy never got a chance to tell him . . . 2

     Ivy immediately stopped thinking about it. It was time to move on. Her 89-year-old second cousin Dash was dying, the son of her father’s nephew.3 She had to think of him now. Dash mattered now. He was all she had left. Even though she never really got to know him all that well, he was It. After his death, Ivy would have outlived everybody – all her friends and family that she had known as a young woman. Hell, Ivy thought, she still was a young woman. At 100 years old, Ivy’s only signs of age were small lines at the corners of her mouth and tiny, almost unnoticeable crow’s feet at the corners of her unusually-shaped eyes. Other than that, Ivy’s features had changed little since she was in her twenties, except for the fact that she was finally beginning to grow breasts. She realized that, with quite a bit of horror, actually, one morning when she was 88. She was standing in front of a mirror after a shower, brushing her teeth, when she noticed that her nipples were sticking out farther than they should have. She thought at first that she had contracted a disease or something. Twelve years later they were still growing, little by little. Everything about Ivy grew little by little.4

     Little by little every year she grew taller. Ivy, at a century old, had reached the freakish height of seven feet, two inches. She had to start ducking when entering most doorways when she was 82. But this did not bother her much, it mostly just bothered other people. She was definitely used to being a freak. She liked it. Her powers of telekinesis were practically unrivaled, her eyes and ears were differently-shaped, and she only possessed eight fingers. (The digit she was missing, on both hands, were the pinkies). For a very long time, these were the only things that distinguished her from humanity. Her “teekay” strengthened by small increments as time went by, but basically her supernatural powers remained the same until her mid-forties. Something very strange occurred to her at that time in her life.5

     Agonizing over Dash was too emotionally draining for Ivy; she needed some help, some guidance, some counsel. She needed to speak to someone . . . some thing that understood her. She closed her eyes and beckoned the warm night breeze. She invited it into her aura, into the immediate space around her body which entirely contained her energy when it was not in use.6 As the breeze entered, it toyed with her braids, and whatever strands of hair that had gotten loose from the ties. It tussled her white cotton shirt, and the forest green jacket that she wore over it. Then she beckoned more wind, begging some from many miles away to come to her. Slowly, like the usual pace of the process, she began to hear their voices. Not the voices of the wind – the wind spirits. 7

     Awareness, albeit at a very basic and almost subconscious level, of the wind spirits began in Ivy when she was in her early twenties, when she met Nicholas.8 He claimed that he communicated with the wind, that he could feel it talking back. And during her visit to Nicholas’ cave, when her and Nicholas made wind together over the ocean, Ivy also began to feel the “voices” of the wind, but at the time she thought they were just different auditory flavors. After that Ivy would try to conjure up the same experience she had when she was making wind with Nicholas, but failed every time. It wasn’t until she was 44, after practicing making wind for about twenty years, did she actually begin to hear the voices of the wind spirits.

     It happened one day when she was flying with Weaver over the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California near Monteray Bay.9 They had been racing around in circles, trying to outdo each other’s aerial stunts. Naturally Weaver fell behind, trying his best (and failing) at matching Ivy’s speed and dexterity at all her flips, summersaults, and spinning. It had been a long time since both of them had played, with Ivy being wrapped up in her job and Weaver touring the country signing copies of his autobiography.10 At first it was fun, but at one point Ivy had gotten carried away, doing so many crazy aerial stunts that she completely forgot about Weaver. When she finally took a break she saw Weaver nearby, flapping his wings, gasping for breath, and desperately trying to remain hovering in the air. The waters below were deep and shark-infested, so Ivy quickly held him up with her energy. As soon as he felt she was holding him, Weaver completely collapsed in the air. When Ivy saw his breathing was still labored and his face was turning blue, she quickly rushed him to land.11 He collapsed onto the sands of Pebble Beach when Ivy let him go.

     “My heart,” he said between grasps, “the doctor said . . . Adele warned me . . . shoulda . . . told you . . . I’m sorry.”

     Then Weaver fell unconscious, never to wake up.

     After Weaver passed away later that night, Ivy returned to the waters where they had last played. Sad, confused, angry, and crying, Ivy propelled herself away from land, traveling farther out to sea than she ever had, so far she couldn’t even see land any longer. At one point she stopped and used all the energy of her grief and anger and channeled it into making the most powerful wind and water tunnel she had ever created. Faster and faster it spun, bigger and bigger it grew, until it looked like a tornado on the sea, with Ivy spinning out of control in the middle of it. Hundreds of fish, dozens of stingrays, and even a tiger shark got caught up in the whirlwind of air and seawater.

     “WHY?!” Ivy screamed at one point, although the wind was so loud that if anybody else was around they wouldn’t have been able to hear it.

     Then, much to her surprise, the wind tunnel began to die down a little. Ivy suddenly felt as if there some force acting against her, a weak force that would never totally stop her. Yet it was there, there was no question about it. Ivy, on her own, ceased the tornado, leaving fish and other sea life splashing into the deep waters below.

     “Who’s there?” Ivy gasped, hovering about ten feet in the air, wiping ocean water mixed with her own tears off of her cheeks. The only response was a strong breeze whipping at her long, blonde braids. Then she felt something odd, something so subtle she almost ignored it. But then she felt it again. Something in the wind changed. Ivy couldn’t come up with an English word to describe it, it was just something she felt in her energy, like changes in flavor, or frequency. It almost felt like a voice, the way it paused, skipped, and jumped in a recognizable pattern. Something out there, in the wind, was trying to communicate with her. Something with sentience was there, but the only creatures she could see were the tuna below the surface of the water.

     No, it wasn’t in the water, she decided, it was in the wind.

     And that’s when Ivy discovered the wind spirits. She would spend the next twenty years of her life trying to learn how to decipher their language, understand it, and use her own energy to talk back. And by the time Ivy was in her sixties she had finally mastered it. Ivy considered it one of the greatest achievements of her life, communicating with the benevolent and compassionate spirits of the wind. They helped console her every time a friend or family member died, or during any other of a myriad of tragedies she experienced during her life. After all her closest friends and relatives were gone, they were the only things that really kept her company, kept her sane. With them around, she no longer needed to make any new friends. And this was the reason why Dash had the distinction of being the very last of Ivy’s once-extensive family who was left.

      “Dash,” Ivy whispered, as the winds began talking to her. The conversation between Ivy and the wind spirits could never be properly translated into English, or any verbal form of communication for that matter, but if somebody could translate it, here is the best that could be done:

     Ivy. We are here. We sensed a disturbance in your wind energy. We heard you calling. Is it your friend in the healing place?

     Yes, it is Dash. He is very sick. His wind is blowing weak.

     Yes, he is a light breeze now. We feel it. Your healers cannot help him?

     They’re trying the best they can. Dash’s organs are failing. He never made arrangements to have replacements grown. He was a “naturalist.”

     We do not understand this, “organs.”

     His inner parts that make his wind.

     Ah, we understand now. You humans are made up of so many . . . “inner parts.” And his inner parts are losing energy? And he has no new parts to replace them?

     Yes, that’s correct. His doctors tried to convince him to do it, when he first began to get sick long ago, but he didn’t believe in it.

     It was not the natural order. We understand this. But is he not the last of your wind? Isn’t he the last whose inner rivers are similar to yours?

     Yes, that’s right. And it saddens me.

     If it saddens you, it saddens us.

     I don’t want to lose him! True, I didn’t know him all that well, until he got so sick he needed me to help take care of him (he married and divorced twice, and never had children). But I still love him, just like I’ve loved everybody in my life!

     You have us. We love you. We will never die. We’ve been here since our world was created, and we’ll be here when it’s destroyed.

     But, there are things he could do for me – with me – that you cannot.

     Like what, dearest Ivy?

     He watched TV with me, played VR games, told jokes with me. He enjoyed eating ice cream with me, and candy bars.

     We do not understand these things.

     I know you don’t! That’s the problem! That’s why I’m so sad! They were all simple pleasures we humans enjoy. They are too tangible for wind spirits to understand. Individually, each of them isn’t a big deal, but put all together, they mean a great deal. And after he’s gone, I’ll have nobody to eat ice cream with, to tell jokes with.

     Maybe we can learn to consume this “ice cream” with you. Maybe you can show us how to tell jokes.

     I’ve tried that before, you don’t get jokes, at least not the kind humans understand. Your sense of humor is so different. Even I, after all these years of conversing with you, have trouble understanding it. And eating ice cream? You don’t eat anything. It’s impossible, don’t you see?

     We are sorry we cannot do these things with you. It makes us very sad that we cannot be the kind of companion Dash is. We love you so much, we only want to make you happy; feel joy, the kind of joy we feel when we blow through tiny openings in the rocks, when we carry leaves around on our currents . . . the kind of joy we feel when we are with you.

     A tear rolled down Ivy’s left cheek, stopped at the bottom of her chin, held on for a few seconds, then dropped to the cement below. She could feel the wind crying, too. It was something even a normal human could detect, the low and lonely-sounding whistling the spirits made, similar to the kind one could hear right before a storm.

     I love you, too. I love you so much, I feel like you’re part of me when you’re near. But it’s not the same kind of love I’ve had with my human friends and family. That will be gone, perhaps forever, when Dash leaves.

     You cannot make any new human friends?

     I haven’t for a very long time. I can’t for some reason. I don’t know why. I have some acquaintances at the senior citizen’s center. There’s some fisherman I like to play cards with at the Wharf. But I don’t love them, they don’t love me.

     It is us.

     What is you?

     We talk to you so often we interfere with your human relationships. We’re beginning to see it, can you not? We love it so much when we talk all night with you, discuss the nature of the world, of emotion, wind art, and everything else we discuss. We love trading energy with you, just being near you, the only human who understand us. We are lonely without you. We’ve needed you too much, it was wrong of us. Very wrong.

     No, that’s ridiculous! With you I feel fulfilled.

     You contradict yourself. You confuse us. You said it so yourself. You are unfulfilled without a human companion. You cannot . . . watch “TV” with us.

     But the fulfillment from them, it’s . . . it’s . . . it’s just not as important.

     It is important Ivy. It’s what is making you so sad. We’re going to go now. You need to spend time with Dash before he expires.

     No! Not yet!

     But the winds receded. The winds vanished, despite Ivy’s pleas. That’s when the doctor came out onto the veranda.

     “Miss Fisher-Ling?” the doctor said, grabbing her attention. She turned around to face the mid-fifties, pepper-haired man, whose nametag read “Charles Houseman, M.D.”

     “Yes?” Ivy said, who still hadn’t gotten totally used to a last name, even after using it, legally, for over seventy years.

     “I’m sorry to say this, but it doesn’t look good for Dash,” he said somberly, shaking his head, “he’s rejected all attempts at gene therapy and regeneration. Those just simply don’t work on some people, and he’s one of those people. The only thing that could have helped him now were the extra organs. But it’s far too late for that, as you know.”

     Ivy sighed, and slowly nodded her head.

     “I know it’s unusual in this day and age for a doctor to say this, but . . .” Dr. Houseman paused to shrug his shoulders, then continued, “but I’m afraid it’s just his time.”

     “His time,” Ivy repeated him, slowly and softly, almost to herself. She looked down at her feet, which were snug in their grey and white sneakers. Ivy always liked to wear them with her professional, business-type clothes, just to cheese people off, but most importantly, to remind herself that no matter how old she gets, she’s just a kid inside.

     “You should go in and see him,” Dr. Houseman suggested, in his deep, slightly raspy voice, “I’m afraid he’s got only hours left.”

     Ivy thanked him, and took his advice, and walked with him back into the cool hospital hallway. In a few minutes, they reached Dash’s room. He was laying on his bed, looking miserable, attached to all the machines. The one that was breathing for him, though, it was disconnected. The doctor explained it was so that he could talk. It was what Dash had requested, since he knew he didn’t have long left anyway.

     Ivy mused, if you took away all the silly machines, and maybe brightened Dash’s face up a bit, he wouldn’t look so close to death. His round cheeks still had plenty of color, and his eyes looked alive, not so sunken like the usual eyes of people who were in his situation. His black, greying beard was as thick as ever, and his shoulder-length hair was still wavy and neatly brushed. When Ivy entered, those dark eyes of his brightened up, and he smiled.

     “Ivy,” he said sharply, “so nice to see you!” He coughed violently, then continued, “I’ve missed you.”

     “I’m sorry I haven’t come visiting for so long,” Ivy apologized, “it makes me so sad to see you . . . like this.”

     “Alive?” Dash said, bemused. He smiled, showing all his yellowed teeth. Dental hygiene was never one of his strong points.

     Ivy made a “hmph” sound, that was almost a laugh, but didn’t quite get there.

     “Come on,” Dash said, between coughs, “laugh a little. I love your laugh.”

     “To be honest, I don’t feel like laughing. I haven’t since you checked in here.”

     “Hey, Ivy,” Dash said, still smiling, “What is the definition of a frenzy?”

     “What?” Ivy asked.

     “100 blind lesbians at a fish market!” Dash replied, laughing and coughing, “I heard that one this morning from my roommate. He’s gone now, though.”

     Ivy smiled, almost laughed. Then she thought about the joke again. Then she actually chuckled a little. It was a pretty good joke.

     “You seem like you’re just going to accept this,” Ivy said, changing the subject abruptly, “not fight it. You’ve always been a strong fighter.”

     “They’re coming for me, calling me home, to heaven,” Dash said, rather matter-of-factly.

     “Dash, you’ve never attended a day of church in your life!” Ivy reminded him, “You’re not religious. I didn’t know you even believed in heaven.”

     “I figure now is a good time to start,” Dash said, with another one of his trademark smiles.

     “You were a member of the Hell’s Angels for sixty years!” Ivy said, almost grinning, realizing the hilarity of what he was saying, “Do you remember the story you told me about you, Rag, and Buffo, the time you went to jail for riding into the fruit market? Or the time you smashed up that bar in New Orleans in a drunken brawl?”

     Dash laughed.

     “Oh, those were good times!” he exclaimed, then coughed some more.

     “More times can come,” Ivy said, fighting back a sob.

     “The best times are ahead,” Dash said, “if, that is, all this heaven stuff is true. Hey, I’m generally a good person, never killed anybody or caused anybody any harm (well, not serious harm), that counts, doesn’t it?”

     “I’m hardly the person to consult with on religious advice!” Ivy said, poking his right shoulder, “You know me!”

     “Not nearly enough, and not for long enough,” Dash said soberly, “thank you so much for taking care of me these last few years. It’s time for me to move on.”

     “No!” Ivy exclaimed.

     “Honey, my bags are packed,” Dash said, between coughs, which were growing louder and more violent.

     “You’re all I have left!”

     “Make some new friends, like I’ve been telling you. That guy at the Wharf you’ve been talking about sounds interesting.”

     Ivy argued that with Dash for a while, him suggesting various people she should get to know, and Ivy rejecting his advice. As the conversation wore on, Dash grew weaker and weaker, until finally all his words were whimpering out.

     “It’s coming very soon,” Dash said weakly, after the argument was over.

     “No, Dash, no!” Ivy said, “Dammit! Fuck! Damn you, Dash!”

     “Potty . . . mouth,” Dash gasped, smiling, as Ivy grabbed his hand and held on as tight as she could.

     “I need more time,” Ivy said, tears flowing from her eyes, “you bastard.”

     “Make . . . some . . . new friends . . . I’ll see you . . . again, someday.”

     And then Dash’s eyelids fluttered, and the alarms went off, signaling to the doctors that his heart stopped beating. And then another alarm went off, signaling that he was no longer breathing. Doctors and nurses rushed in as Ivy sobbed uncontrollably. After their attempts at resuscitation failed, they pronounced him dead.


     Ivy sat quietly on her usual bench at the Fisherman’s Wharf, still wearing her black outfit from the funeral – a funeral attended by over 100 bikers and a seven-foot tall blonde woman with small breasts and pointy ears and eight fingers. She looked up and smiled as the young, dark-haired man she usually played cards with sat down beside her.

     “So,” Ivy said, breaking the ice, “Do you wanna to something else besides just play cards today, John?”

     “That sounds lovely,” the man said, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask that.”

     “Good,” Ivy said.

     And without warning, both of them began to float off the ground.

1 Because in my stories Ivy seems to look ridiculously young for her age, Jeremy postulated that she'd live multiple times the lifespan of a normal human, and that her growth rate would be all out of wack. This isn't what I imagine would actually happen, but then, this is speculative fiction. Duh! [BACK]

2 I guess I sent Jeremy too many scenes where Ivy has weird reactions to Zeke's romance attempts. She honestly doesn't have these feelings for him, so there would have been nothing to tell him, though she DOES get irrationally jealous if ANYONE gets attention she perceives as rightfully belonging to herself. [BACK]

3 Just so you know, Jeremy made up this Dash person, he's not in my books. [BACK]

4 Heh, that's interesting too . . . in my books Ivy is nearly six feet tall by age eighteen, so she definitely had the usual growth spurt. So far it seems Ivy actually completely lacks certain hormones which would have made her go through puberty (or indeed lose her baby teeth), but in this alternate world I suppose it was more like a slow-acting poison. Oohh. [BACK]

5 In my books Ivy's powers didn't increase in strength at all as she aged; she was born with her full power, but she did in time learn to use it in different ways. [BACK]

6 Interesting invention of an aura of power--but not the same as my Ivy. It doesn't hover around her head when she's not using it. It just doesn't even exist until she creates it specifically to do something. [BACK]

7 'Course this was invented too, but that was the point. I just wanted to mention that there are no "wind spirits" in my book. [BACK]

8 Ivy met Nicholas at age 18. [BACK]

9 Weaver doesn't leave the immediate area of the house and they live on the Atlantic coast. [BACK]

10 Very funny, Jeremy. :P [BACK]

11 Weaver's face turned blue? That's a feat. Because Weaver already has a blue face. Hahaha! [BACK]

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