He says maybe a million things, but doesn't say anything at all. It is the most eloquent silence she's ever heard. He has certainly said things in the last hour, her mind's broken CD player is fixated on his words: Well, if that's how you want it, then you don't need me... don't need me... don't need me... She can see through a gap in the chromatic branches. She watches his tall back as he walks away, with his skimming float. She watches as his feet part the grass, the seed heads bending. She watches the smoke curl idly from his partially-finished cigarette on the ground, watches it rise up the trunk and dissipate amongst her and the branches.
The endless blue sky is not big enough to hold her memories, so it doesn't.
She is straddled up the tree, an unlikely willow. Light is spidering amongst the branches and playing webs across her neutral summer clothing. All she can hear is the faint hissing of the wind snaking through the grass and leaves, making incessant wave patterns. All she can smell is stale smoke and green. All she feels is the supple bending of branches under weight and motion. Everything is sharp, so sharp it is out of focus. Some things are moving in slow motion, others with speed. The sounds do not match the motions, creating a surreal state. Her head fills with an almost inaudible buzzing, which grows in intensity. Her head feels like a pot, viscous and bubbling slowly, and she begins to fantasize that its contents will soon drip out her ears. She is unsure as to whether or not this is a good thing.
In the distance, she can hear a song. Snatches, brought to her, riding the wind. "I hope you have the time of your life...". It strikes her as inappropriately amusing, but she does not have the energy to laugh.
He'd once asked her what she would remember. She'd replied "This, and much more."
The memories are already fading.
She shuffles around on the branch so she is facing the willow's trunk. It's quite an old willow, so surprisingly strong, even though it retains some of its characteristic suppleness. She's heard somewhere that the willow is a healing tree. This strikes her sense of irony, and she smiles, although it is not a happy smile.
She's also been told once that you have to heal yourself.
She slowly climbs down. Feet resting once more on the earth, she brushes herself down automatically, even though she is not dirty. Her feet begin moving separate of her will, which is captivated by the buzzing and bubbling in her head. She moves lethargically, as one raised from a deep sleep, or one underwater. The swimming gear underneath her clothes sticks to her skin, as sweat blossoms, commanded and provoked by the overlord sun. She seems not to notice.
She arrives at the old dam, forgotten amongst the townspeople; she is well acquainted with its deep waters, which are black if you dive down beyond the reaches of the light. The surface of the water sighs with ripples as the wind dances across its surface. Her blank eyes notice this, and move properly for the first time in an hour. She sheds her outer clothing and stands on the edge of the dam, looking at the clear birthing waters. She takes a deep breath. She dives in.
Special thanks to Demeter, Gritchka and DejaMorgana for their help during the writing of this story.
This one is dedicated to my best friend Lisette, because I promised her a story, and because there are so many reasons why she should have something dedicated to her...