As Seasons Change: Part 2

Colors fell to the ground in piles— orange, yellow, red, brown. The leaves of the trees died, one by one, making the trip to the place they had hung above for so long. The brittle air got chillier as the day went on. She sat on a bench on the hill in the park by her house instead of the ground where the grass had gone dry and brittle. She ran her pale hands along the splintered wood and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes, thinking about how tired she was. Pulling her hat down over her ears and zipping her coat up further, she got up to leave her spot on the hill. Slowly she walked, realizing how weak she had become. Her knees buckled as she dropped to the ground in a fit of shaking. The girl curled up into a ball as her seizure took over, she vaguely heard voices yelling around her.

That was November 8th, day 131, one week after the brain cancer was confirmed.

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Wild Horses

The wind wisped through the coarse mane and tail of the horse as he galloped the open land. One, two, three, four, his hooves gulped down the grassy surface, churning up soil as he went. Bright sunlight reflected off the charcoal colored hair, soaking in the heat of the day. A whinny, sharp and clear came from the distance, making the ears of the running horse perk and the legs slow until they came to a stop. As the sides of the horse heaved, and the nostrils flared, he waited. Blinking slowly and turning his head to watch, he swished his tail and stomped a foot into the hard ground. The pounding came before the picture. One by one horses appeared in the distance, each one its own color, shape and size. The hoof beats were like drums, introducing a melody unlike any other. Heavy breathing, snorting, whinnying, all different from each horse. Their eyes were wide with pleasure and their ears were set back in determination. The black horse stood still and nickered in his sweet low voice, adding to the orchestra of sounds, calling his herd to him. As the herd neared, the lone horse spun back around, trotting slowly before breaking into an easy canter. The herd was about to bound past him, covering ground quickly, when he picked up his pace. He settled in beside a white and gold mare, who nipped him playfully on the neck in greeting as they ran. He squealed with joy, leading his herd through the world. Tails swishing, hooves pounding, nostrils flaring, sides heaving, snorts, whinnies and nickers scattered—

That is the song of the wild horses.

Happy Place

The wind had just started to pick up when she stepped outside. Her auburn curls blew softly in the summer breeze, covering her freckled face. She pulled them out of the way as she stepped a bare foot into the plush grass. It was about mid afternoon in the month of June, the sun was at its peak and shone brightly in the cloudless sky. The girl looked up at it, shielding her eyes from the rays that would blind her. She reached down to pull up her long white dress, so as to not drag it across the ground. The grass was soft beneath her feet, cushioning each step. A bead of sweat was already beginning to form on her forehead despite the wind tugging at the satin of her skirt. Before long she had made it to the hill, her breath became slightly labored and her legs ached from the incline, like that of someone horribly out of shape. But she made it to the top, her breath slowing. She took a deep breath before gathering her skirt and collapsing to the ground, no longer caring about the fabric of the dress. She spread her arms out, sinking into the soft grass and closed her eyes. The sun warmed her skin just as quickly as the breeze cooled it. And she let her mind wander, forgetting about her worries.

For this was her happy place.

Performer

It’s like this. You’re huddled back stage, counting down the seconds. Your eyes are closed, your breathing shallow. No matter how many times you do it there are always the same nerves. But you hear them chanting your name, over and over, and you’re psyched. This, this is what you live for. 1, 2, 3, and you’re on stage. Silence takes over, and no one moves. The room is full of anticipation. Then comes the first beat, and you’re already moving, singing, breathing, sweating, and taking it all in at the same time. There are people screaming and hands reaching out for just one touch from you. It’s you they want and it’s all so overwhelming but so rejuvenating at the same time. Before you know it you’re standing there, breathing heavily, wiping sweat from your brow and saying thank you because you really do mean it. The fans breathe you in one last time, screaming and clapping as you make your way off stage. Maybe you can’t stop smiling or maybe you still can’t even believe you’re here. But this is it. This is you. And you got yourself there. You did it. It only goes up from here.

The Island

The waves of the ocean smashed against the brown and black rocky wall of the island. Standing on the edge the water was a mixture of blues. It was like someone had melted a box of every ocean name themed crayon into the water and swirled it around; the aquamarines, sea foam green, ocean blue, coming together and then separating again. The waves pushed and pulled at the rocks where the girl stood, making the surface under her feet slippery as it went and cool as it came. The sun shone on her face while a slight breeze cooled her skin and rustled the palm trees above her. The smell of salt on her skin soothed her. How she got to this place was a long story, but she put that last period on the end of that story when she first set foot here. This was a new beginning, a new story. She stood and let the view become her as she turned her palms towards the sun.

This island was her. And she was this island.

Breathe

It’s strange when something happens that you aren’t expecting. Sometimes you feel like you’re drowning for so long it becomes normal, like there couldn’t possibly be anything to pull you out but it’s taking too long to lose consciousness. And then suddenly you start to float up. It’s not like a hand reaches down and pulls you out and everything is okay again—it’s slow. There’s a new sense of hope, a new sense of faith that you are going to make it through so you start kicking. As you get farther from the sea’s bottom and closer to the sun, it’s like weights being lifted off your shoulders. Pressure relieves from your ears, your lungs seem to expand to hold more breath, and your eyes don’t need to be squeezed shut as hard. It’s not long before your fingertips graze the surface, finally breaking through to the salty air. Then your arms and your head and suddenly you feel the sun on your skin and you throw your head back to take the first breath you’ve been able to in so long. Just like that you are floating and coughing and treading water—but you are breathing. And sure, you have to swim back to the shore and pull your shaking body onto the sand. Now you have to keep on living and breathing everyday but something brought you back.

And you are breathing.

Wedding

He sat on the edge of a pew as people ran around the church, putting the finishing touches on decorations. He probably wasn’t suppose to be out here since they were about to open the doors to the guests, but for some reason it was comforting to sit in the empty church. He gazed at the flowers marking each pew, perfectly red and orange like she had picked out. Up the aisle on the stage was a white arch covered in twisting branches and fall colored leaves. The reds, oranges and yellows complimented the whites of the walls and the browns of the oak pews. It was the closest thing to a beautiful outdoor wedding in the fall, except indoors. She had begged and pleaded to have it outside, no matter how cold it was. But in the end this was safer. The man sighed and pulled at the sleeve of his gray suit. This was the day he had waited his whole life for, and yet he could hardly breathe. There was no arguing that this is what he wanted, that she was what he wanted. Why was he so scared?

“It’s time to open the doors, bud.”

He looked up to see his Best Man standing over him, beckoning for him to follow him. He followed him back into his room, where he spent the next twenty minutes pacing. His friends had given up trying to calm his nerves and instead decided to give him some space until it was time.

The man stood in front of the oak doors, listening to the music anxiously. There was a tap on his shoulder and he turned around to see his mother smiling up at him. There was no need to say anything. She enveloped him into a hug before taking his arm and nodding. The doors swung open as hundreds of heads turned to watch the slow walk to the front. He helped his mother to her seat where she whispered in his ear and squeezed his hand before he departed with a kiss on her cheek. Taking his place near the alter under the white arch covered in fall décor, he waited in agony. Two by two the bridesmaids in their maroon dresses and groomsmen in their gray suits made their way down the aisle. He smiled at them, for these were his and her very best friends.

He didn’t have to see her enter the room to know that she was there. The mood shifted, the song grew slightly louder, and people got to their feet to welcome the bride to her soon to be husband. He looked at her with tears in his eyes and a swelling in his heart. She was seated in her wheelchair, holding her father’s hand next to her as her Maid of Honor pushed her down the aisle—and she was as beautiful as the day he met her. Of course she looked different. Her head was bald, for she had decided against wearing a wig on her big day. She thought the veil did the work itself. And she was paler, gaunter due to the medications but covered in just the right amount of makeup so that she looked like herself. Her white dress was sparkling and flowing, not at all impaired by the chair. But of course none of that mattered to the man. He looked at her and just saw the woman he loved. Not the dress or veil, not the sickness. Just her.

As she was positioned in front of him and he grabbed her hand, all the nerves and anxiety washed away. Nothing mattered to him except this one person in front of him. It didn’t matter how many months or days they had left together, because in that moment, they were infinite.