Lost on a Hilltop

By , Basking Ridge, NJ
The world is gray.

What else is there to say?

The sky is nothing but a giant mass of clouds. Shadows leak out from the corners, spreading inky veins across the sky. Light tries to creep through, trying to shed its burning sunlight upon the cold world, but is held back by the gray. All just a jumbled up mass of shades of gray. All gray.

How much of the world is reflected by the sky, or is it the sky that reflects the world? The ground is dead, or soon will be. Autumn is upon us, stealing the life out of everything that has lived. The tall grass in which I sit is no longer a vibrant gold, but a brittle and dull yellow. The small, twisted silver trees in the field are among the first to lose their leaves. They are like deserted spiders, their long bare limbs trying to reach the sky. I lean against one now. It is cold and rough and hollow.

There are more trees, in the distance, over hills and in shallow valleys. Their leaves are red and gold and brown. So many fall to the ground, burying the world in forgotten promise. They are everywhere. I wonder if they are part of the reason the world is so chilling. A bitter breeze nips at my skin and I fear that it will blow everything away, for everything is weak and dying so why shouldn’t one strong gust wash it all away?

I am gray too. I see it on my pale skin, feel it in my lungs, and hear it echoing in my mind. Before me lies a wasteland of what used to be. Soon it will all be dead. The birds have already gone, they are too smart for us. No scarecrow needed this time. And the rest of the animals are hiding, preparing for the wait. And people. They are tucked in themselves, withdrawing with the world.

I wish it would rain already. Or just clear up and let the sun shine. The in-between stage is cruel. Why won’t it just hurry up and choose something? Waiting is too painful, but unavoidable at this point.

Time heals all wounds, doesn’t it? Well I’ll need a lot of time. What if it ends before I am healed? It does not matter; I will always have the scar. A permanent reminder of gray in me. Even if I didn’t have a scar, I am sure I would never forget. To forget would be unforgivable.

I do not know how long I sat there. I was stiff and freezing the moment I touched the ground so the rest was no different. Nothing changed. Not the sky, not the ground, not the life, none of it. The gray remained the same. I had let it consume me.

A lone crow flew out of a tree, letting out a silent caw that made me shiver.

At some point it had to end. I had to face reality. I had to undertake the burden of my fate and the death of my hero. Nothing in my life was going to be simple ever again. None of it would be me anymore, but my destiny was now unchangeable. Life forces us to move on and keep living. But I will do it for Theo, I will live for Theo.

When Theo died, a part of me died as well. I can still see it, so perfectly, in my mind. I remember the smell of blood and death, the sounds of metal against metal, the frigid wind that cut through us like ice, oh, the feel of the world that day. I watched him die. I was too far away to aid him and watched helplessly from across the battlefield, falling out of my own duel as I did.

“Theo! Theo, don’t do it! Theo!” I remember a voice screaming, probably my own.

But it was too late or he didn’t hear. He took his final swing at the rope that set off the alarm, ultimately saving us all from a gruesome end, and his own life was taken a moment later by a crushing sword’s blade. He was gone.

After that my memory turns fuzzy. I fought fiercely, rage overtaking my body. At some point help arrived and I collapsed, weary from my wounds. Then it was only darkness.

“Alkanar.”

Upon hearing my name spoken in the air, snatched away by the wind and rolled into my ear as a whisper, I stand, a jolt of energy jerking me fully awake. For a moment, I do nothing, and then decide that it is time to leave. Walking away, I only feel the cold of the world, seeping into my freshly opened wounds.

The world is gray. What else is there to say? Life has to move on.





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