Crunch.

Crunch.

Crunch.

Slowly, carefully, deliberately…

She raised one foot up as she placed the other back down, alternating.

With every placement of her foot upon the hard ground, she felt two curious sensations: a slight warmth, warmer than where the shadows from the tall rocks around her lay… and tiny little tingles caused by something moving underneath… followed with more crunches.

But, something didn’t make sense about this. When she looked down at her feet, all Earth could see was the ground itself— simple, brown, dry, and flat. Much like her own body. 

Nothing that moved.

So what could be making these…  tingles, and these crunches?

Earth paused, and then, slowly, carefully, deliberately bent her knees, and crouched. She placed out a hand, and drew it into a fist as she brought it across the ground back to her. Then, standing back up again, Earth brought her fist just up to her eyes, and opened it.

Trickle, trickle, trickle.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Earth watched as loose, dark brown bits of rock cascaded from her hand in front of her face, and back down to the place from which she drew it— making little crunches as they landed. 

<Interesting,> said Earth. <What should I call it?>

She reached back down and drew more of the tiny rocks to her, preparing to release them. But once she opened her hand…

FWOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH.

Earth stood in awe as the bits of rock flew wide and far in a scattered brown cloud— no crunches could be heard, for how far away they spread this time.

For a few moments, she could only stand and watch the scene in front of her, completely nonplussed. But then, Earth noticed the familiar signs that came with this Fwoosh: a cooler, faster, moving feel around her, that made her hair in front of her face shake just a little, and her thoughts slightly clearer as the cool movement happened.

<Hi Air,> said Earth. To the presence she could not see, but could feel.

“Aww, how did you know I was there? I was hoping to surprise you!” said Air’s hollow voice, echoing through the canyon.

<You DID surprise me,> said Earth, <When you came by, you made all the…um…  ‘speckles’ I was holding fly everywhere.>

“Speckles? Haha! What are speckles?” Earth tried to turn her head to face where she thought she could sense the direction Air’s voice was coming from, but Earth couldn’t tell, as it seemed to be repeating a little  in every direction.

Earth said, <They’re the little things on the ground, that look like the ground, but aren’t…  they make my feet go *crunch*, *crunch* *crunch* when I step on them.> 

“Hahaha! I like those sounds,” Air laughed playfully. “Crunch crunch! CRUNCH!” The loudest crunch reverberated down the canyon, creating even more echoes of Air’s voice. Earth found it very disorienting.

<…Air,> Earth slowly voiced, <Where are you? Can you come out? I can’t see you.>

“Hmm? Oh, sure okay.”

The softest, palest tufts of grey color suddenly appeared in front of Earth— opaque eyes, a wide-open mouth, hair that never stopped moving, and a torso.

Earth considered Air’s form, so very unlike hers as Air continued to chatter and float around her, appearing and partially disappearing at each revolution:

“Hey, did you know that waaaaay over that way, there’s another edge where you can find Water? And there are a few more cracks waaaay up at the top of this cliff that feel hot to me— I think Fire can travel through there… Oh! And also if you want to see more speckles, I think there’s a BUNCH of little things that can move around whenever I go past this cliff!”

<…You move so fast…> Earth remarked, <Much faster than me. I don’t think I can go that quickly to those places.>

“Hmmmmm…” Air flipped on back and made an arc over Earth’s head, coming to look down at her feet.

“Yeah, I think you’re right. You have too much *stuff.*”

<…Stuff?> questioned Earth, tilting her head at Air’s assertion. <Stuff like what?>

Air shrank and gently brushed her wind against Earth’s feet. “Stuff like THESE long block things at the bottom part of you.”

<Er, my feet?> said Earth.

 “Yeah,” replied Air, “If you had less stuff like your feet, I think you could travel a lot quicker. Like the rest of us!”

Earth looked down… and thought. She could see her feet. She noticed that when she picked them up and put them back down on the surface, it did take much longer to move than how quickly Water could glide beside her, or how instantly Fire would just appear right in front of her in his lava-lines. And indeed, how rapidly Air was floating and twirling around her just now.

But then, another thought occurred to Earth.

<…Air,> she asked, <Have you ever felt tingles and crunches?>

Air stopped twirling in arcs, and hovered slightly in front of Earth. “Felt tingles and crunches? No… I don’t think so. I don’t think I even know what those are.”

Earth walked over to a clearer part of the ground and said, <I’ll show you… It’s like the feeling when you drag your feet over something… The little speckles move underneath your feet, and then the tingles happen IN you.>

Air flipped upside-down again, looking curiously at the motions Earth was making with her feet and the empty dirt. As she did, Air could see the little speckles indeed move around, and she heard soft, soft “crunches” as Earth called them. 

“I can hear the crunches, but I still can’t hear the tingles,” Said Air to Earth. She tried flowing over the dirt, but it only moved the tiny rocks around. “And, I don’t really feel anything at all, doing this…”

And then Earth thought more, and said, <I think crunches need something hard to make them happen… And tingles aren’t really something you can hear… you have to feel them. I think, if you were connected to the ground like I am, you could feel them.>

At this, Air looked slightly serious, which surprised Earth. Air hardly EVER looked serious about anything. It seemed she was really considering this.

Then, finally after a full few seconds, Air said, “I don’t think I’d want that. I like moving quickly!” Then Air furrowed her brows a little. “I am curious though. I wish I could know what tingles feel like, for instance.”

And Earth sat down on the ground and said, <I wish I could move myself just a little faster.>

And then, as Air whooshed around, slightly moving Earth’s hair in front of her face once more, another idea came to Earth.

<Maybe we can do both,> she called out, for this time she could see Air higher up along the canyon walls. <I don’t think you have to have feet at the bottom of you, like I do— And I don’t think I have to get rid of my feet. What if… what if we share?>

Air came back down face to face with Earth. “Oh, do you mean like us helping each other?”

Earth smiled. <Yeah, just like that! What if instead of feet, you use hands? You can shape them like mine… I ALWAYS feel tingles when I touch stuff with my hands… and then, maybe you can make yours big, like Water does, and help me move quicker?>

Air laughed. “Hands???” And then, as it never did take her long to process things, “Eh, why not? Sure! I guess it could maybe work if we try! But, we might want to try it some place open, I think that would be safer…”

<Good idea,> said Earth. And Earth followed Air to the sands near Water’s edge, Air chatting all the way. 

Then, Earth stood in front of Air and held out her hand. <Can you make a shape like this?>

Air looked closely at it, tilting over it, then around, and then finally… reached out a tuft of a cloud and shaped a form just like Earth’s, with five fingers right in front of her.  Earth saw it, and felt Air’s cool breeze. It continued to clear her mind. Earth said, <Good. Can you make another? Good… Now, hold them out in front, like this…> and, following Earth Air held both her hands out in front of her. Then, Earth reached down, grabbed another fist full of lighter, grainier speckles from the sandy ground, and slowly let them release into Air’s hands.

Except all of the speckles fell right through Air, and did not even make crunches below as they landed. Both elements looked through Air’s empty hands, surveying in silence for a few seconds. Then…

<… Did you feel any tingles?>

“Nope, not any…”

And Earth felt sad, thinking disappointedly that their plan did not work… but then, Air said, “Hmm. I can’t feel any tingles, but I have hands so… maybe I can make my own crunch now?”

She clapped her hands together.
BOOM.

A gigantic gale flew from the force of Air’s hands coming together, blowing sand everywhere, as  Earth flew clean off her feet, landing on her butt in the sand many paces away with a great thud and an audible <OOF!>

Air gasped.

“I– I can’t believe it!” exclaimed Air, eyes shining and wide, “T-that felt tingly! AND IT WAS SO LOUD!!!!!!” She beamed, but then noticed that Earth had been blown away.

Terrified, Air zoomed over.

“E-Earth, are you okay??? I-I’m so sorry, I didn’t even think that would happen!!! I-”

But then, Earth sat up… wiped the sand out of her hair, and laughed, eyes twinkling.

<Air!!!!!> she said. <That… was AMAZING!!! I’ve never flown before!!!!>

The two happily laughed and smiled. It wasn’t the way they’d imagined, but their plan had worked.

*KA-CHOOM*

Many many yards away, a tiny spark of light opened up.