Bridge to Winter

With her small hands still plump with youth, the knuckles not yet world-weary, she reaches down and clutches to her clumps of cool, damp earth. She draws her arms as high as she can reach and releases. Stars fall.
A cacophony of brilliance—crackling orange of a long-burning fire, soft rustle of the deep scarlet of newly acquainted lovers, muffled fading yellow of forgotten summer suns—and diaphanous whispers of earthen brown on the underneath. Her delighted screams pierce the chilled air, and over and again the stars meet forcibly the earth.
Some cling to the only heaven they will ever reach; craggy bistre with jade fringe, drops of dew like tears falling into the crevices. Still clutching heaven they brown and whither before they release it–or before it releases them–they are dead before they ever reach us.
From the pumpkin, over-plump and scarred even before, she carves a jagged, crooked mouth and for a moment he belongs with us and he wants. She hopes he lasts.
Tomorrow his scythe-smile will sneer once more before he fades.
A symphony of smells–apple pie and pumpkin spice, sunshine and damp leaves, cool mist and wet earth–greet her and she grants them her warmth and, in return, they favor her with happiness.

I hear not a sound. The stars that she draws near to her for me are only leaves, their crackling the last cries they will produce before they return to dust.
I smell nothing. The artifice of the fall scents–symphonic and wonderful to her–to me are stale and bitter and reek of decay and death.

Of the decaying air deeply I inhale, the last bit of cool , the only memory of warm before the frost: I draw a breath that must sustain me. Fall is a bridge to Winter.
And I never breathe in Winter.

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