Autumn had come quickly this year, turning the leaves of the trees into brittle, translucent colors that circulated in the chilliness of the breezes. Several days before the first official dawn of autumn began, she had known that this season would be much harsher. She had lived on this earth, in this village, for twenty years, and never had she experienced this kind of bitterness this early at the ending of the year. The fruitful possibilities of change were to blame presumably.
To be entirely blunt, this attitude adjustment during this time hadn't been caused by the suddenness of autumn to begin with, but with the ending of something far greater, something she had wished she had not been a part, an event that had been preventable if only circumstances had allowed.
Silently, she sat still on a narrow and beaten log that was buried in the ground with years of harsh and brutal training sessions, scratches covering every inch from each day she had spent here alone. She didn't move, didn't sigh. Her eyes were too busy watching the clouds drift across in the stream of the sky, the lively blue reflecting the shines of light in a hue of the afternoon, a beauty that was taken for granted during these times.
It was the song of a nearby bird that drew her dulled expression away from above and towards a branch that rested against the bark of a tree, its leaves nearly gone from the incoming cold.
Leaning up against where the branch was connected to the bark of the tree, much like a tendon connecting bone and muscle, there was a nest, slightly bigger than her hand, full of random items such as cotton clumps, twigs, leaves, flowers, and thread enjoined in a ball that would house new life in the coming weeks.
What drew her near, she did not know.
She had felt herself rise from her seat, jumping down to let her feet pad against the softness of the dirt patches that scattered in the balding clumps of grass, rising to walk one step at a time to get a better look at what had caught her attention.
The bird she had heard was sitting within the nest, tangling and sticking each edge with mud or whatever could be spared in sparing the nest of the worst outcome.
She stood, mute, just watching and was caught off guard as another bird fluttered into the nest, nudging the other patient and lovingly. The sight made a small smile take over her lips.
There were no eggs, not yet at least. But here, in this moment, was the love that began before more was made. Two beings, joined together to love each other, and to create the ultimate sign of their devotion to one another, the emotions and passion being carried on until that love was once again passed on to another.
Wings fluttered slightly, a feather escaping and soaring across the air in slow motion. She caught it in her grasp and stared at it, turning it over and over again, just looking at the gift the bird had given her.
The white lashes were speckled with splotches of red and gray, scattering over the entirety of the feather. It must've belonged to the female, for the lack of dullness was sympathetic enough to be one of feminine beauty.
Her smile drifted away as she let the feather falter in the breeze once again, blowing further away from her outreached hand. She watched it go for a moment and lowered her arm by her side, feeling the isolation, the same kind she had felt when it had happened.
Shaking her head, she waved away that memory, realizing that the outcome was still wonderful and she was happy that everything was alright, that life was going back to normal.
She strolled back to the log, jumping to sit on it once again, returning to her state of boredom as her chestnut eyes reflected the clouds that continued to move across the sky, not standing still for a moment.
How slow they were traveling, unlike her life. Each moment was moving quicker than the speed of light during these days and with this sudden approach of autumn she had never been more assured of such changes until now.
Nothing had changed between them.
The breeze brushed against her neck and her arms, sending shivers across her skin. The way it had felt, calming and gentle, was something she wanted to feel all the time, not cold, but in a warm way from someone's embrace, a voice whispering love and protection.
Her hands had reached up behind her head, releasing the braid that had joined the two buns on her either side of her scalp, unraveling the bits of hair until all her strands that had been tied up for as long as she could remember fell, tumbling across the surface of her upper and mid back. Her scalp felt the release of pressure, throbbing slightly as it attempted to recover within her locks of brown waves.
The surface of her neck felt the warmth of her hair and she couldn't help but sigh as the wind blew against her recovering scalp, making several strands blow across her cheeks and stick to her lips.
Her fingers brushed against her lips, pulling the hair away and sending it tucked away behind her ear. The freedom she had felt was only a taste of what she truly wanted, a preview of what she had yearned for since the ending of the war. The freedom to love and be loved.
Such a stupid desire for someone like her, was what she often thought whenever she had that sudden craving for someone to be by her side. Then again, it was impossible to forget those emotions when each one of her friends were marrying one another and she was left to attend the reception in a singular manner, faking her own happiness by wearing a mask that bore a smile.
She saw him, attending those weddings and wonderful occasions alive and well, a future that she hadn't expected when he was pronounced dead during the dread of the final battle sequences. The way his eyes had shot open and the way he gasped for air as he breathed in new life was an event that made her heart stop yet again.
He had seen his cousin marry the man of her dreams, the cousin that he had protected and the same one that nearly cost him his life.
The smile he had on his face that day was one that she would treasure for the rest of her life.
It was over now. She was alone and her deepest regret was never telling him the truth before he had "died". He didn't even know now, when he was alive and healthy, breathing and walking like nothing ever happened during that time.
Her thoughts continued to falter as she soon took her leave of the log to lay against the large patch of grass just below, her body facing the top of the world, her chest rising and falling in a rhythm of orchestrated cues, her heart as the conductor.
The released strands of darkened locks fanned out against her shoulders as her fingers were interlocked behind her head, releasing the stiffness in her neck and leaving her relaxed and at peace.
How long she had stayed there like that, she could not recall easily. The peacefulness was something she needed and something that she didn't really remember how long she had needed it. It was there and it was hers, even though the sun was beginning to set silently in the sky, colors of pastel stretching as the descent continued down into the horizon. She saw the flamboyant light streak across her skin, nearly blinding her as she squinted her eyes to continue to gaze at the world around her at its most vulnerable point.
She knew that she should return home, before the stars were twinkling in the black curtain of the night and yet, the ease she was feeling was an emotion she had been starved of for so long. It wouldn't hurt to stay here like this a little longer.
Her body curled onto its side, her hands resting against the ground for a few seconds as her fingers reached up to pull the zipper of her tunic down to her waist, revealing a mesh undergarment that covered her torso and only showed the outline of her breasts and not what was to be hidden on the inside.
Hands resting beneath her temple, her breath softened, her eyes closed, and she took in the silence, the mute of her inner demons for granted.
Within this state of meditation, her mind grew foggy as she drifted away from reality, her soul feeling uplifted as it showed her the dreams made amongst her own imagination and her own pondering thoughts.
She didn't fight it and had finally withdrawn as sleep consumed her.