She can feel the creeping cold of the coming winter, the way it makes her body weary and her limbs feel heavy. It is still hard sometimes to accept that this body is hers now, these legs that look like slender branches, this skin that will never be soft or warm again. At night, in the dwindling moments where she can still find sleep, she still dreams of being a girl. Of the old body a shade of soft ash and crimson dapples, of an inner warmth and a thrumming pulse and the sound of her own heartbeat.
Sometimes the heartbeat is all she dreams about.
This body is quiet except for the rustle of leaf and flower - though now her flowers have turned to rosy apples in her hair, and soon they will rot and fall and stain the bark of her skin with their putrid sweet juices. She has not decided yet if this shames her, if it is as repulsive as she initially thought it was, or if perhaps she is just growing used to these new truths. But she knows this quiet body scares her, that it is so hard to lay still in the silence of deep night and wonder what it is to live and die. To be lost in these mortal worries and have no bump-bump in her chest to call her back, no gentle hush of breath in her lungs.
There is only ever the quiet, so how does she know she lives?
Sometimes it feels like there is nothing inside her.
She is just like the quiet trees, tall and solitary, a universe within itself. Just like every flower yearning for the sun and summer showers, like every blade of grass swaying gold and brown in the autumn noon. Alive, and so quiet. Unnoticed.
Except, she can hear them. She has never told anyone, never shared this secret or spoken it aloud for worry of what others might think. For fear of others finding her even more strange. She can feel the sorrow of a world during fall, the silent dread of winter months and waiting death. She can feel the heartbreak of the oak when her boughs fill with too much snow and her branches break and die beneath its weight. But she can feel the delight of the white silk seeds when they float free of a dandelion stem, too.
The world is quiet to everyone but her, and she wonders, if she is like these things, is anyone listening to her quiet joys and sorrows?
She rises from the grass in her patch of autumn sunshine, and she can feel the weight of the apples bobbing heavily in their tangle at the crest of her neck, hear the hum of bees buzzing amongst the ripe fruit. But her gentle focus is elsewhere, following the sad song of a cluster of wild violets as they brace against the cold. She can feel that hopeless yearning for more summer and more sunshine, more life where there is none left. She pauses to nose a branch aside with such gentle care, letting more sunshine slip through to her patch of violets as the bees continue to bumble gently through a mane of leaf and twig.
these wildfires grow and grow until a brand new world takes shape