By Olivia Sitter
We met when branches were barren and the air nipped our skin. Despite the layers of snow and ice that came, our friendship grew in the cold. In our insulated forms, we shared our interests, testing to see if the ground was too slick for us to tread.
When buds and baby new leaves unfurled, our hands entwined. Every breath of fresh blossom-kissed air fluttered my heart. Your gaze trained on mine warmed me in the still cold nights. I felt I was waking up after a long slumber; everything was brighter, more vibrant, and filled with life.
Something was blooming inside us. It flourished over the months, as the trees spread wide their arms. We basked in their cool shade as bees hummed nearby, cicadas sang to the sky, and birds sighed. We stole kisses with the breeze and drifted through sleepy days. We were curtained by maples, oaks, cottonwoods, safe from showers and thunder.
The verdant smells of foliage dried to a crisp; the air crackled. Yellows stained through green, our hearts beating the same. Oranges flamed, igniting our certainty. Reds and browns calmed our pace but softly. While the world prepared to sleep, we were wide awake, watching it all.
Hand in hand, we strode through crunching piles of discarded shade. We said nothing, but we knew, we knew. At a fallen tree spanning a dip in the ravine, we climbed. Together, triumphant we made it to the other side, the sharp breath of autumn coloring our cheeks.
Grinning, exhilarated by the height we had achieved, we looked back across the trunk to where the path meandered through the forest. Down to where fallen leaves promised to catch us if we chose to jump or happened to tumble. And back to each other’s face, our eyes alive, alive, alive.
We knew, we knew. Balanced above the ground, on this precipice of wood and hope, you knelt, as I knew you would. And me, lighter than a milkweed seed, clung to the branches and said yes, as you knew I would. As one, we traversed the span, our feet crunching on the stable path again, new with the possibilities of the future.
We knew winter was harsh, but we walked on, knowing we would weather it together.
Image: Albert Bridge