The hill sat in the middle of an open green field. It was cool that day, and the Spring air swirled and pushed the tall grass like a tide pool. The hill was roughly half-globe shaped and low, as if a hand reached down and pinched the field into a point here. He wondered what lay beneath its rolling waves.
The man in the tweed jacket walked up the hill, stopping a moment to catch his breath. He set the cloth tote bag on the ground for a moment's rest. Even though he was only a little over thirty, he knew he’d fallen out of shape. He took his hands from his dark slacks, straightened up, and pulled a handkerchief out of his breast pocket to wipe his brow. Ever since becoming a history professor, he decided to look the part.
Having nearly reached the summit, the man became less focused on his footsteps and more conscious of his surroundings. The hill provided a great vantage point, being the highest place around for miles, and allowed him to look out over the vast plains and take in the air. Not that there was much to see. The only thing on the hill was a willow tree, on the smaller end as far as willows go, but large enough to shade a quarter of the peak.
On the edge of the shade, a boy lay on his back, looking at the sky. He wore a red polo shirt buttoned all the way to the collar, and blue shorts that just grazed his kneecaps. He was barefoot in the grass, his feet stretched into the shade. The man walked over to him and sat down. The boy did not look at the man, nor did he blink. He was wholly focused on the sky. The man broke the silence.
“Yes. I am the one called the seer. What can I call you?”
“Henry. I imagined you’d be-”
The boy interrupted. ”Taller?”
“Has the reading begun?”
“No, no. Everyone says that.”
“That’s quite all right. I know it wasn't ill intentioned."
He moved the bag out of the way and lay back into the grass. He kept his feet pulled into his body, knees in the air. He was afraid of falling asleep.
"So how does this all work, then?"
"In due time. Did you bring what I asked?"
The man sat up and opened the cloth bag next to him. Having grasped the items contained, he turned the bag sideways and slipped it off his hand like a magician making something disappear. He was holding a stack of three books, and two comics. He set them on the grass between them.
The boy looked over for the first time and caught the man's glance in passing. The boy's eyes were pale, nearly white, with only the subtlest hint of blue. At first, the man thought he was blind. The boy reached over and picked up a book at random, flipping through the pages, reading sentences at random. He brought the volume to his nose and inhaled deeply.
"Ah. Got to love that smell, don't you?"
The man did love the smell of books. "Yes, I do."
"Now then, down to business." The boy stretched out again, shifted to get comfortable, and looked up at the sky.
“Water is the most essential resource for life. All life as we know it stems from water. In addition, humans are 60% water. Everyone knows that.”
The man looked over. It had been a while since he’d been lectured and not lecturing. “Sure, sure.”
The boy continued. “But we don’t start that way. When we’re born, we’re nearly 80% water. We lose it over time.”
A large cloud rolled across the sky. It went dark for a moment as it passed, and then was bright again.
“Where does it go?”
“It dissipates. It evaporates. It is condensed and dispersed.”
“Okay, I follow that much.”
The boy had his eyes closed. The man thought he must have given this lecture many times.
“Clouds are merely water vapor condensed into mass. They form, change, precipitate, and eventually dissipate into the atmosphere. Sound familiar?”
The man looked over at the boy. “You’re not linking clouds and humans, are you?”
“As much as we try to avoid it, man is a creature existing within - and not without - nature. We’re as much a part of this ecosystem as the grass beneath our backs, the tree above our heads, and the clouds even beyond that. All things are connected. All things can be understood. Meteorlogica wasn’t a textbook; it was a book of augury. And only I understand how it works.”
It got darker on the hill; another cloud coming across the horizon.
“Magic? You’re saying it’s magic?”
“Not magic; science.” With that the boy sat up. “But for now, the reading will have to wait.”
“And why’s that?”
The boy smiled in a coy way and transcended himself. He smiled with the confidence that he could not be wrong. “A thunderstorm is rolling in.”
And he was right.