Sarah closed her eyes and stood on her small porch, letting the fresh late autumn wind greet her with the secrets of the trees above and the animals underneath, and the laughter in the sparse, lonely clouds told her it was a good day for fishing.

She was no longer counting the months (or was it years?) since she left her tear-stained mirrors behind in her claustrophobic city flat for her grandfather’s cabin in the woods outside his hometown. When she first arrived, she found the sound of old childhood stories, a comforting silence, a feast of shadows preying on her in her sleep, and no certainties about her position in a world that asked everything from her giving nothing in return.

She had no time to bury the corpse of her old self because winter was coming and she had a cabin to fix, wood to store, food to prepare, and one solar panel to replace on her next trip to town. Over time, she learned to sharpen her knives, to smell the rabbits coming closer to her traps, to hear the ominous buzz of the rain as it came down the hills miles and miles away. As she started forgetting what she looked like it was easier it was for her to talk to the wind, and she stopped missing the sound of human voices.

At first, the low, tentative voice she heard in the distance didn’t register as human, or even familiar. It sounded sad, melancholic, like the bears that came roaming on the edge of the fence, tempted by the treasures of fish and fruits inside her cabin. As it came closer, the voice sparked a memory — in a previous life, oceans away, lips like fresh mint kissed hers and said ‘Happy New Year’ with that same voice under red and yellow thunders.

She walked toward the man approaching her cabin, her mind suddenly flashing with memories of him — their carefree adventures, their happy plans, the melancholy that ate away at his ambition, the ambition that destroyed her heart, their many goodbyes as they came to accept they no longer knew each other. Finally, they met at the fence, under a large dead cedar.

“Is this new?” he pointed at the fence.

“It’s not pretty but it keeps the bears out.” She flinched at the sound of her own voice, now foreign in her ears.

“And people, too?”

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“If you’ll take me.”

“I thought you had a mission you couldn’t complete being with me,” she shrugged.

“Coming to you grandfather’s cabin was my idea, remember?” his voice was lower than she remembered, but he was just as tall and broad as always, with the sun still shining under his skin. The familiar kindness had returned to his eyes and it made her feel like the giddy 25-year-old she once was, holding his hand sitting next to him in the aeroplane on their way to their first adventure. She thought she buried that feeling under the snow, but it lingered on her pillow all those years. “I understand now, and I want to do this.”

He, however, had changed his mind before depending on his mood, on how cold his feet were at any given time, on the shapes of shadows a tree cast outside his home or the amount of bad news he watched over breakfast.

“I’ve heard that before.”

“I can’t change my mind now, and I’m not going to. I poured all my vanity into my work but it meant nothing if I couldn’t share it with you. The only person I wanted to save all along was you, but you just wanted me to walk alongside you. You were right about everything. This is where we’re supposed to be.”

“Away from everything?

“Away from everything.”

Smiling, Sarah opened the fence, took his hand and led him to the cabin. He had much to learn, to unpack, to bury, and winter was coming.

Originally published at https://notesmetro.substack.com.

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