These days her shoes had no grip. The sidewalk was always wet, and the threat of rain loomed in the evening. Mornings were dim & cold and the walks to the farmers' market were slow. Persephone watched as her breath smoked and rose above her. September was ending.
A simple golden leaf pirouetted down an invisible spiral of breeze, spinning through the air as it let itself be carried down. It shook slightly, as if it could have been whisked away any second by the grip of an icy wind but kept floating down the twirling course. It blew past her face and landed lightly on the ground. It was so delicate, she wanted to reach down and pick it up and hold it close to her heart, smoothing out any creases, but something told her that it belonged there, this corpse of what was once summer.
Autumn, the end of the beginning. Persephone shivered as she felt the cold wind blow against her, picking up the golden orange leaves from the ground. Persephone spotted a secluded bench to sit on in the far corner of the bustling open market, deciding for the one underneath the ancient oak tree where more, crisp, golden leaves lay like a blanket on its floor. She settles herself and places her hatbox suitcase by her feet.
"Before I leave," Persephone whispers to herself, scanning to the steadily building crowd, searching for a clue, a sign to her empty longing. Something was special about this town of Resembool, she could feel it. "Just one more time."
She closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath. Soon she allows her physical consciousness to drift off, trying to "feel" any sort of connection she could to this place. Concentrate. Meditate. Try to remember.
"Hi there," Persephone hears a voice call out. The voice had a soft deep treble to it. Like the warm fire that she has wished for a moment ago, Persephone felt her belly warm and skin tingle. She opened her eyes just as soon. And they met, golden to golden.
He was tall, with a heavier build but easy to tell that it was mostly muscle despite him wearing a dark brown trench coat and green cotton sweater. His short golden blonde hair, that was neatly styled to fall lightly on the left side, complemented his golden-brown eyes. And those eyes. For a moment she felt that she had recognized him as someone that she used to know, with such great familiarity, her palms sweated. But just as soon as she felt she had known him so dearly, to the point she felt the urge to kiss him, the thought had left her and she were looking at a stranger.
He seemed to have stopped for a moment too, once their eyes met. As if he were searching her too. He thinks back to the dreams he had the night previous and how it were like he were seeing through someone else's perspective. The woman of his dreams, and even though he had never seen her, he knew somehow that the lady sitting in front of him was connected. Her trails of golden hair so bronzed like an autumn's sunset matched the one he'd seen in his dreams. And her eyes, even though he'd never laid sight on them, they were all the evidence he needed. He had seen himself through those eyes.
"I'm sorry, are you lost?"
Three days after the Promise Day and Alphonse finally having his body restored, he woke up in almost a startle when the sun rays seeped through the hospital room curtains. His body, even though emaciated jolted with such strength his elbows had buckled from the shock of sitting up. His IV strip reminding him to not move too harshly.
"Woah, Al," Alphonse heard his brother call out in a groggy tone, him waking up from Alphonse's sudden movements. Edward had been spending every night in Alphonse's room, on the armchair at the end of his bed, not daring to leave his side ever since they got their bodies back. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," Alphonse responded, his body gradually beginning to sweat. He furrowed his brows as if trying to concentrate on something, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Something was off, and incredibly wrong. His lips tasted of iron and his head was settling into a low throbbing.
He blinked and for a moment his eyes flashed to the image of a woman who's face he could not see, like it was blurred. It was night, the room was dark and illuminated by the streetlights outside and his brother, Edward, was sound asleep at the foot of his bed. The woman sat in front of him, long golden hair pooled at her waist and his thigh as she leaned closer to him, her hands caressing his.
"Goodbye," she whispered. Her voice seemed so sad and forlon. She kisses his lips and then the vision is gone and instead of the woman it is Edward that is in front of him and still in the early hours of the morning.
"Al?" Edward says again, worry in his voice. He puts his palm to Alphonse's forehead, "Are you feeling ok? You've gone pale and sweating really bad."
"My head," Alphonse manages to speak up, clearing his throat, "Just hurts a little…I think. It's been a while since I've felt anything."
"Right," Edward said getting up so fast. "Pain must be a big shock to your body since it's been in limbo. I'll go get a nurse to help you."
"W-wait, brother," Alphonse said, his eyes weakly looking around the room. "Was someone here last night?"
"Huh?" Edward said, a brow raised at the question, "Sure Al, a lot of people were here last night. You've been getting guests like you're the Queen of Drachma."
"Right," Alphonse said, shaking his head, though in disagreement. Yes, he remembered that. These past few days have been nothing but full of excitement and fatigue. And he felt like there was an extra element to that excitement that has suddenly been…misplaced.
"Maybe I'm just tired," Alphonse chuckled, leaning into his pillow. Tired, something he had forgotten he'd ever get to be for a while. Who would have thought getting your body restored would be full of so much…uncomfortable sensations? He had felt so foreign being back in his body but all the same as if he were back home.
"Hey," Edward spoke up. His eyes were glossed from the hints of tears he was holding back as he briskly ran his restored arm through his hair, jolting a little from his own touch. "We did it Al, we did it."
Alphonse weakly smiled at his brother, although he knew he was full of genuine joy and some relief he couldn't help being at a loss at those words.
Yes, they restored their bodies, every day for those past three days of celebrations were all the proof he needed to understand that. However, something was amiss. And for the next nine years to come at those small moments where he'd be alone with his thoughts, Alphonse knew, something, someone was missing.