Of winter and of song
She was singing, just like she always did when the fear seized all our hearts and rendered our men powerless. But somehow we knew that tonight, she was going to sing her last. Her small chest was rising and falling with every breath, her melody echoing unto the night, and her song haunting us even in slumber. This was how she sang. But at that night, there was something in her song that froze the hearts of even the bravest of us. There was death in that melody; no, it was heavy with it.
I remember that night all too clearly. The last of the autumn leaves had fallen, silently marking the coming of the cold. Boots trudged heavily up the mountains to the old forest, freezing hands scoured for firewood and plucked berries in preparation for the harsh days to come. Voices came barely above the whisper, and bodies huddled close together in an attempt for warmth. Eyes looked towards the sky, awaiting for the dreaded fall of first snow. The winter’s dawn arrived in stealth, sneaking upon us during our slumber. Winter has always been cruel to our people. The sun was shining brightly that day but the cold had seeped deep into our skin, wrapping itself tightly around our bones. There was no comfort for us that morning. The cold mocked us—blowing harshly when hands and feet wer busy trying to make crops grow, calling forth snow when there was no warmth to be found.
Our souls were frozen.
All we looked forward to was the night. Ironic as it was, evening brought forth the greatest comfort for our weary souls. For it was when the sun had set and the moonlight illuminated the world that she sings. That night, defeated we were as we stood waiting for her song. She walked silently. Her footsteps were light, barely making an imprint on the thick layer of snow, as she approached all of us. Her beautiful head bowed low, her hair falling gently across her face. Her lithe form gracefully walked towards the elm tree, that which stood oldest among all the trees in the forest. She had always walked on a calculated pace—she would reach the elm tree just exactly when a moonbeam had fallen upon it.
I could not forget that night for it was then that she stopped suddenly in front of me and lifted her head to face me. The split second that we shared was also when the moonbeam had touched the elm. When both our gazes landed upon each other, everything fell into chaos and into order. I saw the unraveling of the world, and the birth of destinies. I felt the rush of a thousand years pass by and a million memories flash right before my eyes. I saw that she was my fate, my destiny, and I was letting her walk away.
Then it was over.
She continued walking and it was as if nothing had happened. She had reached the elm at the same time the moonbeam did, just like she had always done. She lifted her head, gazed upon us, gave us a ghost of a smile, and began to sing. She was singing, just like she always did when the fear seized all our hearts and rendered our men powerless. But somehow we knew that tonight, she was going to sing her last. Her small chest was rising and falling with every breath, her melody echoing unto the night, and her song haunting us even in slumber. This was how she sang. But at that night, there was something in her song that froze the hearts of even the bravest of us. There was death in that melody; no, it was heavy with it. Eyes began to close and as I closed mine, I stopped to look. And somehow, I knew I was going to gaze at her for the last time. It was only for a split second and in that split second, I had her face etched unto memory.
The last note was sung.
The moonbeam had drifted off.
Dawn was breaking.
The cold had won.
They say the threads of fate are strung together by the hands of one all-powerful, and that the only choice we have is what kind of thread we would like our fate to be. But what they forget to say is that we are all given an opportunity to change that. But it comes by so quickly, and in a span of a split-second I had missed it.