Those Who Come After

Another rainy day when Reya Quinn found herself at the local library again. She drew in the black umbrella and took in the smell of aging paper, goosebumps rose on her arms, not from the chill, but from the nostalgia of of stories from decades ago and yesteryear. Each aisle, she would loosely draw her fingertips along the bindings, plastic and fabric, bound by machine or hand. Every so often she would stop, take a step back, and open a book with her black-painted fingernails. Skimming through the first chapter, she would make a decision – Was it worthy of reading, sitting down in a comfy chair in her favorite corner, and allowing the day to melt? Or, would it be placed back onto the shelf for another reader at another time?

Today was different. The thunderstorm just outside the window had turned the sky a dangerous green. The library, which was normally rather busy, was nearly desolate. The tables were bare, with the exception of one elder gentleman, three college-students, and a handful of middle-aged adults in a Book Club. Even the employees were scarce. A few people murmured something about the tornado and rushed back to their cars, disappearing behind a wall of rain.

Brave Reya found the weather, the lack of other people, and the silence comforting. Her routine began after her umbrella found the side of a comfortable armchair in the corner surrounded by windows and her lunchbox laid upon on the end table. Adjusting her black, pleated skirt, she sauntered to the nearest aisle and drifted back and forth, stopping here and there.

For some reason, she could not choose a story for the day. Nothing matches how I’m feeling. This book is too feisty. This book is too ‘romantic’. This one is too blasΓ©. Too allegorical. Too fictional. Too…

“Wait,” she whispered to herself.

Something caught her eye. “What’s this doing back here?”

The oldest book that Reya had ever seen found it’s way into her hands. However, it was in excellent condition. As if it had never been touched. She had to remove half the books on the shelf in front to make enough space to remove the book without making a peep. When the last library book was on it’s shelf, she rushed over to her chair and studied every inch of it.

There was no title, no indication of an author. The front of the book did not have a dust jacket or date of publication. Nothing – or the lack of information – caught her intrigue. A familiar crackling filled her ears as she opened to the first page. It was nearly blank with the exception of one line. Two sentences.

To whom it may concern. Read at your own risk.

Deep down, her gut urged her to turn the page. Her heart began to race as she unknowingly turned to next page. A paragraph was all that was written.

This details the final days of Earth and all that transpired to it’s ultimate demise. My hope by sending these notes into the past, someone will carry on the message until the events begin. My only concern is how far in my past I send this. Be warned reader. What is contained in the text cannot be unread. You alone will be responsible for carrying the message in whatever way you see fit. But by doing nothing, you are only delaying the inevitable. You have my well wishesReya Quinn.

Reya looked around at the rest of the library. No one stirred. “This has to be a joke,” she mouthed. The next page turned and she felt herself literally being sucked into the parchment.

The next thing she knew, a somewhat familiar sight filled her gaze. Shards of moonlight fell on the grassy plain where she lay. The moon itself was no longer spherical, but blown to smaller, jagged chunks. Reya immediately knew that she was no longer in 2019. The book had literally brought her into the future. Somehow, someway. What had been filled with stories was now a binding of blank pages and a pen in her hand. Without actually knowing why she was there and for what purpose, she started down the hill and towards a city lit with lanterns and trash fires.

For six years, Reya Quinn recounted the downfall of the country and the world. What started as numerous civil wars expanded into the war to End All Times. Every country, every continent battled for survival. Nuclear wastelands decimated the Third World. When ammunition became scarce, iron mines and scrap metal were hoarded, mined, and melted. Livestock became a delicacy and rice with potatoes became a staple in food. Death was no longer a mysterious occurrence with funerals and wakes. It became an uncommon thing not to see at least a dozen each day. This brought disease which slowly drained humanity of it’s numbers… until we became a rarity… an antique.

Still, Reya pursued. In the past, she had nothing. After a while, she realized that the book she found in the library never had any content. It was meant to find her that day and meant to take her back to write it for another. She was the liaison between time and space to keep the world from it’s ultimate collapse… On October 16th, 2257 something in her gut said that the end was near. Her final day, she reminisced of the past.

I have had the pleasure of meeting wonderfully profound individuals working to rebuild what we have lost. Growing up, I had no idea that my role in life would be so pivotal, so filled with uncertainty. The scientists who have spent so much time healing illnesses I could never comprehend in that library two hundred years ago have given me one chance to go back. Myself or the book. But who would listen to a goth-girl claiming they were from the future? No. It must be the book. But it could not be found in a library by someone with the quiet voice of sheep among wolves. Whoever it is, must be of sane mind and faith that what is contained in the pages is truth.

My deepest love, Naomi, took liberty in sketching scenery that would be unmistakable evidence of what we see on a daily basis. Perhaps even some of the diseases that raid our people will be cured prior to this time. Reader, with the utmost haste, do not let us down. You may not be directly effected by the events of my today, but your future generations and your namesake will be. I understand that humanity is inherently selfish, but please do not succumb to the pitfalls of the primal brain. I beg of you, do not delay.

Now, I fear the end is near for the rest of us. Another force, somewhere outside our atmosphere is growing. We have had dealings with some foreign beings, but none who seemed to have any animosity for our measly existence. Deep down, I believe that we have been deceived. If I say my goodbyes today, I will feel that my work is done, but still hope for a tomorrow...

I’m Not Her Mary Jane

“Can we just stop talking about this?” Madison leaned closer to the microphone and enunciated his response.

This was the dozenth time that the neighbor, Kendra, tried to interview her for the College Newspaper. Everyone on the damn campus knew who her roommate was outside of classes, but she never talked much. Kendra just hoped that she could get some insider information on “The Mage”.

“We both know that I am not going to stop harassing you until I get a column in the paper… Now, I’ll ask you again… tell me about your roommate – Victoria Brooks aka The Mage.”

By this point, Madison was fed up with being badgered. “Fine. It’s annoying. She leaves at all times of the morning and night, but she isn’t quiet about it. Look at these bags under my eyes. That’s from lack of sleep. She may not need it, but I friggin do.”

Kendra sat back in her chair with her hands up. “Woah. Okay… what about the good things? Is she helping other countries? What type of powers does she use here?”

“She almost blew up the entire dorm and everyone in it. Tried to light a Bunsen Burner and lit it too violently.” Madison pointed to a large, V-shaped, blackened space on the wall. “She’s lucky she can control the fire once it goes flying out of her hand.”

It was almost like the interviewer suffered from selective hearing. “So, what good things?”

But Madison refused to back down. She stood up, paced around the room, choosing her words carefully. There are no good things, she wanted to say. “I’m not her Mary Jane,” she finally said. “Let’s just put it that way.”

Kendra only picked up on the Spiderman reference. “Oh, how cool! Do you help her with saving the world?”

“You are some kind of moron, aren’t you?” Madison shook her head, walked over to the mic, and rose her voice. “She doesn’t tell me anything. She just annoys the crap out of me. I don’t get sleep. I’m constantly worried for my life because she can’t control the severity of her powers. I live in constant stress. Guess what? No one cares about me. I’m just the only one you can talk to without asking her these questions. But she never talks to me. We aren’t friends. I didn’t even know her last name until you just said it.”

The recording software screeched and an awkward silence hung between Kendra and Madison. The Interviewer just stood up, brushed off her skirt, snatched up her materials, and slammed the door behind her.

At that moment Madison rushed over to the window and looked down. “You know I friggin hate you right Vicki? All that – that I just told her – it’s all true. You really need to stop thinking about just you.”

The Mage floated into the room and landed in between the two beds. “At least your Acting Major is paying off, right?”

Sorry for the short one today! Some days inspire me more than others. πŸ™‚

Dice and Daggers

The world ended over a hundred years ago. Now, we must abide by the rules of The Nameless or we will be sacrificed to the river demons. Few who have managed to survive all this time from Nameless tyranny remain in fear of the day we are discovered. Our wisdom of the world outside the city walls would completely shatter the current government structure and send all those loyal to ONE (The Nameless Leader), crumbling to their knees.

My childhood feels like eons ago. I was captured seven – no eight- years ago. Torture by my ‘merciful’ hosts have all but numbed me to pain. Every single friend that I grew up with had either escaped that night succumbed to our captor’s unspeakable acts. But the numbness only covers my physical wounds because there is a haunting guilt that drags me down. And, no matter how hard I try to push it out of my head, I will never forget that day.

***

“Ten, eleven, TWELVE,” I shouted as the yellow piece on the game board moved to the end of the line. “I win again.”

“I don’t even think you know how to play this stupid thing,” Christine huffed and crossed her arms. “Does anyone here even know all the rules except Peter?”

“The rules were probably destroyed by The Nameless,” Ethan said. “So Pete makes them up.”

“Are you having fun or not?” I whispered loudly and looked around the abandoned Laundromat.

“I don’t even know why I hang out with you guys,” Mark sneered. “We don’t ever do anything fun.”

Sandy threw a couple pieces at an old dryer, a ting of metal echoed through the room. “How can we have fun when it’s impossible to win. Whenever one of us gets close to the end, you change it up and we lose. And you win.”

Her brother, Randy was always the loudest. He could never keep his voice down. “No more game. I want a new one. We make the rules or -“

The threat was cut short. Just outside the paper-covered windows was the sound of screaming and footprints.

Nameless, Rebecca mouthed as we skidded to the back room. Our feet squeaked loudly from the puddles we had just walked through. Josh slipped to his back but Randy and I managed to pull him into the bathroom to wait. Eight of us were crammed in the little room, hoping and praying that they didn’t hear us. Eight thirteen-year-olds.

Randy, Sandy, Rebecca, Josh, Ethan, Christine, Mark, and me in the humid, smelly bathroom of an ancient building. A single window supplied some fresh air. We were all silent, craning to hear the sound of broken glass or nearby footsteps. All of our parents made us swear that, even if we heard them scream, we would run the opposite direction. If we were caught, we would be sacrificed to the river demons.

My mother always told me that the myth of the river demons came from the “Nameless’ ignorance to science”. “Apparently, knowledge has been lost to those who live in the cities,” she would say. “Willow River was tainted by poison long ago. Either sewage or something like this. It must seep into the skin and destroy your insides. Regardless, Pete, it isn’t a demon. There are no such things in another world. The only demons are the here and now… The Nameless.”

I don’t care what my mother says. The thought of being tied and weighed down by cement up to your neck is more terrifying than being stabbed to death by one of their Dalheim Daggers. And those things give me nightmares. Somewhere overseas makes them and ships them through the caravans. Heavily guarded. The weapons themselves? Only a handful of survivors but the same explanation each time – sharp going in and tearing going out. Something inside the mechanism explodes open and tears chunks out of the skin, only to reform into a normal-looking dagger. Outcasts like me have only heard stories, but they probably aren’t far off.

***

An hour must have passed before any of us moved a muscle. We were sore, but it beat whatever hell the Nameless would unleash if they found us. I hopped off the toilet as quietly as I could and pressed my ear against the door. I thought I heard something. Or maybe it was my tired mind playing tricks again.

“So?” Christine whispered. “Are they gone?”

I just motioned for them to follow me out of the swiveling door and into the laundromat. The shadowy silhouettes of armored men and women pacing back and forth caught our eye. I started to feel sick. Everyone else was freaking out behind me.

“Where do we go?”

“What do we do?”

“This is it. We’re going to die.”

“I don’t want to be sacrificed to the Willow River demons.”

Randy and Sandy were crying softly. Christine’s face was ghost white. The only one who had their wits about them besides me was Rebecca. She was looking right at me, awaiting further instruction. Her face gave me the push I needed to get us all out of here.

Inhaling sharp, tension-filled air, I grabbed Ethan by the arm and started pushing everyone towards the back of the building. Crouching and zigzagging between the rows of washers, driers, and tables, they fled. When everyone was safely outside in the alleyway, I took one final look over my shoulder and tried to sprint towards the others.

I slipped.

The sound of board game pieces exploded from underneath my feet and shot towards the rusted metal appliances. Banging, followed by the boom of the board itself immediately made my heart race. I was sweating. I was terrified. I was frozen.

I couldn’t move.

***

I must have broken my leg. To this day, that’s what I tell myself. Needless to say, our story didn’t end with a happy ending. The Nameless busted through the door almost immediately and tackled me and Rebecca, who had turned back for me. Sandy, Mark, and Ethan fell to the Dalheim Daggers. Their screams haunt every second of my life. The sheer pain of which I cannot imagine. Randy, Christine, and Josh were dragged away with me. But Rebecca… my near savior… somehow managed to fight her way out of that god-forsaken laundromat.

I never her again.

And here I am. Randy was the first to go. Didn’t even make it a week. Poor guy. Next was Josh… I saw his final breath. Tied to a chair and I watched as they performed ‘experiments’ on the both of us. It was to test our pain threshold. The Nameless that Josh fell victim was slightly too proud of his job and took it too far. That kid would never see sixteen.

Christine and I shared adjacent prison cells and became very close friends. One day, about two years ago, she got sick from the slop they feed us. Well, that’s what she said, but it could’ve also been the deplorable conditions we are forced to live in. Either way, I felt worse for her long, drawn-out death than the others. She suffered immensely for twenty five days, moaning from the pain.

“Do you think there is an afterlife?” We had talked about it. Considered whether our friends were in a good place. I hoped they were. They didn’t deserve what they got.

“Yeah,” I truly believed it. “Anywhere has to be better than hear. Growing up wherever they are has to be better than growing up like we did.”

I saw her hand come around the other cell. I reached out and held it. Her skin was cold and clammy. My stomach churned in guilt and sadness as I began to cry softly for her and the others.

She snickered. “Ain’t that the truth. I bet it’s a nice place where you just get to do what you want. No rules but no fear. Beautiful mountains with the ocean not too far. Always sunny with a slight breeze. Delicious food…”

Now she was becoming my rock. “Do you think the rest of them are there too?”

“Absolutely.” She tore her hand away to cough until she nearly fell unconscious. “Sorry man. I don’t think I’m going to be here for much longer. But at least I have a nice place to go.”

Death was her release.

“I’ll see you on the other side Pete,” she said.

The following morning, she was dead.

Today is my final day. My fate is the Willow River. I have endured so much pain and torture that I was ‘chosen’ by ONE as a sacrifice to appease the demons. They tore me out of my cell, instructed me to dress in a white robe and ushered me out the door of the prisons, blindfolded.

The ride was long, but we made it within and hour or so. I became accustomed to guessing how much time had passed in my years as a prisoner. To be honest, I wasn’t scared at all. Christine’s words gave me hope. Anywhere had to be better than here anyway. But it was the shock of what I saw when my eyes adjusted to the light that scared the soul right out of me.

It wasn’t a ‘what’. It was a ‘who’.

It was Rebecca.

I didn’t recognize her at first. She had not aged as much as I had imagined. Because it had been so long, my last vision of her was at thirteen. Now, she was nearing twenty. Clad in the same white dress that I was, she stood facing the crowd that had gathered. She instantly recognized me.

“P-P-Pete?” she choked. I could see the tears welling in her eyes. “I-I-I-… I thought you were -.”

“Dead?” I wiped my eyes as they untied my bonds. “Same here. You okay?”

We were pushed near the water’s edge. “Yeah. You?”

“I’m about to be,” he smiled. “Sorry about back then… I still feel so indescribably awful.”

“Don’t you blame this on yourself Peter McMillan,” she scolded with a tearful smile. “Please. This world isn’t meant for us… but maybe the next is.”

She reminded me of Christine. I had almost forgotten that they were cousins. Two Nameless on either side of us, tying our arms to heavy blocks on a platform that dropped at our feet. Just below us was the clear water of the Willow River. Bones of countless victims strewn just under the surface.

“Rebecca,” I called to her. She turned. “Thanks for coming back for me when the other’s didn’t.”

“How could I not?” she laughed. “You were always the cutest one!”

With that, the lever was pulled and I felt the cold water splash over me. Then, it began to burn. I relived the day that led up to this one last time and looked over at Rebecca. A tinge of fear in her eyes as she gazed back at me. I felt a lurching sensation in my chest, as if my heart was trying to keep up with the water dissolving it. Then, I started to get tunneled vision, blackness encroached on me. Finally, I felt lighter than air as the last ray of sunlight disappeared in front of my eyes…

I’ll see you on the other side, Pete

My apologies for the dark prompt today. I hope you enjoyed it though! πŸ™‚

I don’t have a prompt that I made today, but hopefully you can use the one above for your own story.

“I met her there…”

Superheroes are bull – y’know. No one exists like Spiderman or Wonder Woman. Well, that’s what I was told when I was younger. My parents aren’t – weren’t – special. Is anyone really? If we are all unique, then are any of us?

That’s what I struggle with on the daily. Wondering if there is anyone who has a shred of understanding as to what I am. Even if you would or could call me a Superhero… I wouldn’t be a very good one. Nah… I’d be pretty crappy at best. I wouldn’t even get a comic strip in the newspaper.

I stopped telling people what I see when I was a kid. No one believed me anyway. I actually considered standing in a nursing home to perform my gift, but that would be way too dark. Plus, I’d probably be arrested anyway. Loitering or Soliciting probably.

Oh, I guess I should tell you about my ‘gift’. It’s simple really. Clocks… not clocks. Timers on people’s heads. I can see them. They tell me how much longer you have to live. Found out that meaning the hard way. My younger brother… Thought it was odd that his timer was so short. My mom heard the scream from the yard and ran outside. EMS claimed he fell out of a tree playing with friends. To this day, I think he was pushed. Evil intent of a five-year-old? Probably not, but possible…. It’s things like that that make me want to intervene and sometimes I want to tell people. But like I said, who would believe a teenage kid like me? Even if they did, I’d probably freak them out.

And by the way, I don’t like coffee. I’m more of a soda-drinker. But I get coffee every day now. The coffee shop a few blocks from my dorm, called Bean and Leaves (they sell tea too), is where I spend a good portion of my morning. Most of the time only about an hour and a half.

There’s this girl… Now, I know what you’re thinking but it isn’t like that. Jeez. I may be a teenager but I’m not stalking anyone because I like them. I’ve never even seen her face. And why would I even bother telling you about my gift if it was not relevant to the story? Okay.

No matter when I show up to B&N, she’s already there. And she always leaves before me – strategically before me. I mean that, when she leaves, there’s always a crowd that she can disappear into. Like she knows I’m there, watching. But if she knows, then why hasn’t she said anything? She must know why I come there each day. Unless she thinks I really like coffee. Or I’m a stalker.

I’m starting to think that my gift does not work on her. But then questions of why began to pop up. Each day that I see her, sitting in the corner of the shop with her back turned, typing away on her computer, I glance right above her head. The timer doesn’t have a number. Just a sign that you hear about in math class but never can truly reach. “∞”

Impossible. That’s what I thought at first. That’s what I still think. Monday, October 24th was the day I finally got the courage to sit right behind her. She wasn’t as kind as I had imagined.

“Don’t speak to me,” she said without flinching. “I know you’ve been watching me. Every day. Every single damned day. I don’t care what you want. Know this, you are in a very dangerous situation following me.”

“No.” I swallowed a lump in my throat. It hurt. My stomach was in knots. “You don’t understand why I’m here. I’m curious.”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she whispered and took a sip of her tea. Herbal – every day. “And you too, if this conversation continues.”

I turned around to face the back of her head. She scolded me almost instantaneously and I spun around the armchair. “You want answers? Come with me. Wait five minutes after I get up and meet me in the parking garage behind the old shoe warehouse.”

This is it! I’m going to die. Too bad I can’t see my own timer because then my heart wouldn’t be beating so fast. She stood up, packed up her laptop, and left. Five minutes went by in a flash and I stood up, tossed my barely-touched coffee in the bin, and started the ten block journey to what could be my demise. “Demise” sounds better than “death” anyway. Makes me feel like I’m in a movie.

Okay now I really feel like I’m in a movie. The parking garage she was talking about has been deserted for decades. Vandals spray their ‘tags’ on the walls and those who believe the ghost stories of the shoe warehouse and surrounding area may show up here from time to time. But it’s otherwise desolate. Today, only one car parked at the very top of the lot. Tinted windows, blacked out rims. Nothing inconspicuous about that! (Yes, I’m being sarcastic! I’m trying to diffuse the tension).

And then, the window rolls down and I come face-to-face with the mysterious woman for the first time. The only thing that draws me to her face are three scars equally spaced sliced across her face. But it isn’t grotesquely distorting anything, just lighter lines of skin extending up into her hairline.

“Get in,” she demands. I oblige.

The car’s nice, very nice. I wonder what she does for a living? What gave her that scar? I’m sure I was about to find out.

Silence. I broke it. I usually do. But I don’t usually blurt out something stupid like I did… “I can see your lifespan above your head. Yours must be wrong. It says -.”

“I’m immortal,” she replied.

I laughed, half nervously, half in disbelief.

“Do you laugh because you already know this?” she turned to me as I slid into the back seat. “Or because you do not believe your own eyes?”

“Okay then,” I was still laughing. Tearing up at this point. “How in the hell are you immortal? That’s impossible.”

“How are you able to see another’s lifespan?” she inquired. Question with a question. It stopped me from laughing, that’s for sure. “That’s impossible. Come back to the coffee shop to meet more of us.”

“But I don’t understand.”

“You will. Oh, and I’m Vanessa by the way.”

“Steven.”

That was my first experience with the group I called the “Infinities” (I’m not very creative). They say that they’re just a different type of human, but I don’t know if I will ever believe that. In the United States alone, there are only about a thousand of them. The World? Maybe 100,000.

I’m sympathetic to them. Each one has their own abilities, like me. Vanessa can manipulate objects with her mind. Before my classes, we gather together and hang out. The first friends I’ve ever really had. A few months go by and they ask me to do them a favor. To meet them in the same parking lot as before. All they tell me is that it is a “test to prove my loyalty.” and that “they’ll answer my question when it’s over.” The question that I’ve been asking since I first met Vanessa – Am I an “Infinity?”

Here I go. Just a few more hours and it’s ‘test’ time with them. I hear familiar and unfamiliar voices and I can see a bonfire flickering at the top of the parking garage…

The Guardians

These are those who never meet. Two a pair who pass by, greet and bid farewell in mere moments. Four of them appear so beautifully in their own way, but arrive with their own varied majesty.

The first is the swift eldest. Delicate while content; angered and she will unleash a fury unmatched by her kin. Clad in robes of white and grey, tinged with black filigree. Fingertips caress the greenery, leaving behind skeletons, dark footprints, and remnants of life. Her duty is not only necessary, it is vital to the cycle.

Some call her ‘the angel of death’ as she brings such a brisk chill. Her very aura is frigid and her beauty is no exception. Long, wavy strands of silver twilight hanging like Holiday ribbons around her soft, pale face. Eyes reminiscent of a pale snow against an aqua sky and lips as red as frost-nipped toes. And like her mood, her voice rises and falls against the wind.

Lucky are those who witness her dissent onto the world and the bittersweet truth she carries. Not all endings should be tearful. There is sun over the horizon.

***

When the white goddess departs for the cycle, her brother takes the stage and steals the show. Suddenly the earth springs to life as seedlings take root and rise towards the warmth of the sun. Primavera is his name, though others speak variations of it.

As he calms his sister’s lingering spirit, the frost softens and moves deep within the dirt, glistening and giving life to that which was once dead. Hibernating animals awaken their long slumber to the thawing world of color. Eyes open to the blooming trees and pastures of wildflowers. And the intoxicating scents of him and the trail he leaves behind.

Primavera watches over the earth for a time. His humbly tan tunic and mahogany trousers weave through the evergreen forests with the wind tousling his auburn hair. As the pale chill finally exits the air and the remnants of his sister disappear. This is now his domain.

But soon, the end will come for him to return at the next cycle. With tears of sorrow and joy, he bids the earth goodbye as the next Guardian passes by to await their turn. He greets them with a warm smile, the last cool breeze floats across the land as his feet leave the ground in a final farewell.

***

Earth takes a deep inhale and patiently awaits the strongest of the four. She ascends upon the earth like a shroud, suffocating it with nearly unbearable heat. Harsh is her voice as it whips through the dunes of the Sahara and grasslands of Australia. She takes her job with pride as waves of humidity burrow through the swamps allowing life to flourish despite the heat.

Although her reign is known throughout, her reach does not extend to the poles of the globe. As large as she is, she cannot encompass that which her frozen counterpart can. Her fiery, red hair touches the dry ground and lights it afire. Eyes as dark as soot scan her domain for more work that needs to be done.

Understand, her very existence, when in balance with the other Guardians, is necessary. Purging the overgrown forests into a wasteland allows the others to rekindle the life below the surface. She can bring the rains to replenish what she has rightfully destroyed and, at the same time, reek havoc with cyclones across the Alley.

She is finicky and emotional, very aware of the state in which humanity is leaving her beloved earth. More and more, she angers and rebels with flames, wind, water, and earth. But each cycle, to no avail. When her time comes to leave again, she expresses her sadness one last time.

***

Finally, the last of the cycle appears gradually, taking delicate care to erase all that the fire has set ablaze. She prepares for the beginning all over again. For snow and frost. Melodic songs of dreams begin to lull the trees to sleep as she shivers off the reds, yellows, and oranges all around.

The one that comes after is a shadow of this one’s beauty. Automne, they call her, name just as entrancing as her voice. Hues of gold-laced chocolate fall from the top of her head, a crown of silver maple leaves placed daintily on top. Because she works so closely with the one before and the one after her time, she bears one crystal and one deep grey eye. In tales, they call her the In-Between or the Guardian of Limbo for her notable work in the cycle.

Automne takes a secret pleasure in walking through the leaf-laiden grounds. Cobblestone just below the crunching colors at her feet, she will inhale a scent of warmth deeply, exhaling the foreshadow of what is to come. And those around her, flora and fauna alike, relish her existence while she lingers here.

But even beauty is not forever. When her time comes, the world weeps and awaits her return with bated breath. As the first takes her place and feet touch the soft grass, a single tear slides down Automne’s face and turns her back once again. Into oblivion she travels until her next turn.

It took me 3 days to write this because I’ve been so busy. Sorry for the delay! I hope you enjoyed! πŸ™‚