Notes: For one, oops, haven't posted in a long time. I've been writing a halfway decent amount, but I haven't been finishing anything. Japan has been keeping me busy! Also, this story is a challenge story - write a story with the same title. Challenge person was masterofmidgets . It was very fun, and I am looking forward to doing it again when I've finished with Yuletide! Got the assignment in today, and it looks like it'll be a challenge - I got matched to two of my 'less confident' fandoms. Without further ado, story.
The world seems suspended, wrapped in an intangibility that filters the light into fragile streams. Words hang in the air too long. For once, there's enough time to look at everything.
Colors fractalize the landscape into photographs. Under a tree, a child in a yellow dress is intent, crouching in the dirt and staring at the cross of twigs scattered across the ground. A woman lifts a hand, slowly, slowly, catches a strand of hair black against her pale fingers. With strange care she tucks it back behind her ear. Her hand drifts endlessly towards her lap.
A curl of scarlet in the corner of the eye is a young man stretching backwards, jacket dangling from his wrists in the crispness of the air, and the curve of his back echoes the sinuous twist of branches against the sky. They are half barren in the year’s inexorable progress towards winter.
With each step, motion slows until I am the only one moving. My steps clatter on the sidewalk, and the memory of a laugh shivers through the air, heard through water. I brush against a drift of leaves, and the dry rasp against my skin shakes through my bones. Across the green, I trace the string of a kite arrested mid-flutter to the hand of a child, arm frozen as he tugged against the pull of the wind.
There’s no air, no ripple or slide of pressure and humidity. I run past a cat sleeping languorously on a cushion, cupped by petals of red light shining through a purple umbrella. My breath, the sound of my own air seems stifled, vanishing. Nothing but the sound of my shoes on the stone and the crunch of leaves underfoot and that strange laugh endlessly hung on the air.
The scent of viburnum surrounds me, a drift I cannot escape. It’s too sweet, too much, an evocation of sun-wilted flowers borne on a frozen breeze. My throat is clogged with the syrup of the scent; I’m drowning in it. Then there is another scent, the heavy bitter emptiness of wet and stone.
With every step I take, the world moves a little faster. In front of me, a leaf drifts towards the ground, crumpled and dry. I step on it, slowing, and turn towards the gate. Behind me, the laugh finishes. It’s just a child’s laugh.
On the wall beside the gate, twined through as if it was part of the same entity, a vine clings to the stones and mortar. A single purple flower is still against the gray. It looks like the silence wrapped around snow. I wrap my arms around myself against the shadow’s chill, and walk away.