Sometimes, when silver linings illuminate the edges of distant clouds, and winter winds warm with February sunshine, I pause to wonder if the coolness of morning will last until nightfall. I glance at sleeping squirrels huddled on evergreen branches and wonder if their dreams will always be sweet, or if evergreens will stay forever green. Fifteen years ago I might have stood beneath a similar sky, watching similar squirrels nap until lunchtime. Ten years ago, I might have felt the touch of February air against the cool tears streaming down my cheeks from the bittersweet heartbreak of childhood love. Five years from now, the evergreens might have given way to maples and aspens, or the squirrels might have raised grandchildren to warm their burrows, and I, where will I be? The winds of change have given me their blessing, and the glow of their kiss warms my forehead still. One day I will find myself here again, recounting lost times, asking the shifting skies, “Do you remember me?”
Eyes closed. Ready for takeoff. In the shifting abyss behind closed eyelids, anything is possible. When I was little, Mama used to drive me home in a rocket ship; rusty and dented perhaps, but a young space traveler’s dream nonetheless. Asphalt became rivers of stars and meteors; here we would pass a red-brick Mars, there in the distance the marigolds of Venus. Mama was a quiet pilot, but as we rounded the final bend of the Milky Way, I could see her smile in the rear-view mirror. The echo of my laughter is softer now in memory, as echoes often are when muted with time. Now my eyes are closed again—Mama, I’m ready for takeoff; but the spaceship was sold long ago, and my pilot whose warm eyes mirror my own, is not here. In the endless space behind eyes shut tight, in the vast galaxy of wishes made on shooting stars, I wonder if I might still be the child from my memories, if I might have merely fallen asleep on the plush velvet seat of my beloved spaceship. I wonder if, when I open my eyes, I might find Mama diagonal from me, smiling, ready for takeoff.
With a blanket over my knees and a muffled radio playing softly, I notice snow falling in the evening light. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” plays by my ear, a song that brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my lips. Can’t help falling in love—as inevitable as snow falling in veils of white, as transient and as beautiful. Can’t help but remember the way your eyes held my gaze as arms hold lovers, as hands hold hands. Can’t help gazing across the span of months and years, feeling my smile falter as the song passes its halfway mark, with no way to turn back time. The hour hand chimes, resonating through the window pane to meet the silence of snowfall. The second hand ticks, tracing the pace of my thoughts. The song has ended, but snow continues to fall. Snow can’t help but fall, and nor can I.
Everything in moderation. For plants, for love, for friendship. My forget-me-nots were drowning in my love for them, drowning in milliliters of water accumulated; too much affection to absorb, too much expectation to carry. They were not blooming, and I did not know why. Their green veins lost their colour, and one night, I realized they were dying. Time passes quickly, especially when one is trying to revive plants. As their limp bodies lay drying on a tissue, I ran to fill a glass jar with pebbles from outside. In the silence of midnight, a light breeze rustled through my hair, chiding me lightly—for over-watering my plants or for trying to save them, I could not tell. My fingers were covered in dirt, clawing at the frozen ground for pebbles small enough to cover the bottom of my jar. As I rushed inside, I could hear the wind laughing still. My plants were drier now, and yet more wilted; as I lifted them into their new home, I felt that I was carrying corpses between my fingertips. I lay their leaves on a scaffold so they might absorb some feeble lamplight, so they might live to see morning. People scoff when they see music playing for plants, but between the lines of life and death, who has the right to scoff? I played soundtracks softly at their side, and prayed to the heavens, to the gods of nature if any remained, that they might not overlook the faint halos of my dying plants.
Everything in moderation. For plants, for love, for friendship.
I did not water my plants that night as the soil was still moist, and if each grain of crumbled forest and earth would serve as a deathbed, I would at least spare my plants from drowning yet again.
In the light of morning, I peered at the glass jar, and felt a rush of joy when I realized my plants had survived. Their stems were straight and their leaves stretched high above their scaffolds. Indeed, they could die again, as with love, as with friendship, but at least for now, they are with me still.
Sunlight touches my eyelids and whispers in my ear, “Wake up, my sweet.” Rubbing my eyes, I peek at my mother and father on either side of me, peek at my wiggling toes that barely reach my parents’ legs. I must have had a nightmare and clambered into their bed at midnight, must have forgotten the dream by now; all I feel is sunlight on my skin. I heave the duvet up to my cheek, and nestle deeper against the edges of my parent’s pillows. My father is snoring, my mother breathing softly; two pillars, two walls, warding away all evil spirits and all night terrors. As long as they are still sleeping, time does not pass, and in this eternal morning, I am safe.
Under the glow of celestial bodies, in the vast darkness of midnight skies, I wonder if I might have lived and loved like this, lifetimes ago. If in this golden realm of memories at nighttime, I might have heard echoes of my past selves, of my past loves, might have touched their faces over a veil of memory. We might have been angels and guardians, warriors who triumphed, who perished. We might have been children, might have been parents, might have been lovers and might have been loved. In the cool stillness of a single night, the moon tells me her stories of my past, of the threads of time interwoven through myth and legend that trace back to me, back to now. And right now, silhouettes dance upon my skin, starlight bathes me in a pool of silver, and a light breeze has risen to kiss my forehead. Right now, I am neither angel nor guardian, just a child in a young woman’s body, just a single illumination in a sea of stars.
Have you ever heard that one song on the radio, blurry at first—just like your memories—then coming into sharp focus, that song that used to be your anthem, that you used to call, “our song,” that all of a sudden brings you back, back, back to the fluorescent hallways of your high school years? In the sweetness of those lyrics, you thought “us” was unique, a two-letter word too profane to describe the depth of your love, of the only love you knew, of the two-letter initials you would carve into desks, into trees, into dreams. The “+” between your letter and theirs promised to hold the two of you together, promised so much more than a mere intersection of lines, mere crossroads fated to meet only to separate. In the soft melody flowing next to your ear, in the blur of smiles caught in photographs stuffed somewhere in the back of a dresser, do you ever wish you could return and persuade yourself to leave before you saw the roses, run before you ever saw their face, so you might not fall in love with those beautiful eyes? Or might you kiss them just once more, while you still can, while time still runs in your favour? The song is coming to an end, the radio announcer muses how the song seems to be every couple’s anthem, but secretly you whisper, “No, it was ours.”
The sky is a pale violet, concealing the hour as hours pass by. Snow drifts and swirls in curtains of falling stars. I would like to think the rain of white is composed of the cinders of answered prayers, fluttering down to bless their orants. In the night dusted white, music from my father’s youth echoes in my ears and seems to stretch across the strange silence of snowfall. Strange, how a night like this echoes through time, creating bridges of memory, of remembrance, which I assure you, are very different things. My grandfather used to paint trees like the evergreen a small distance away from me. But he never painted them with snow upon their boughs; he never saw snow in his entire life. But maybe in heaven right now, snow is falling too, and my grandfather is giggling like a little boy again laughing in the frosted air, “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” Maybe the snow in heaven is just like the snow on Earth, maybe our two realms can overlap just for tonight, so I might listen to his laughter in the distance.
Red brick on red brick, pattern and patch; two walls on either side framing a sea of stars. Crisp air fragrant with the season’s first snow and the last of autumn’s fallen leaves kisses my chapped lips and murmurs in my hair. Bare branches stretch their fingers to touch falling stars, to move away from peripheral thought, into the center of my consciousness. In this stairwell, this recess cloaked in shadow, night air washes upon me like moonlit tides, making ripples in stillness like a breeze drifting through a forgotten attic, visible only through the dance of dust motes twirling in its wake. In this stairwell, minutes pass quietly, as do my thoughts.
Shadows touch and shadows part. Moonlight pools on fallen leaves and scatters upon the autumnal landscape like drops of mercury. Naked branches shiver under midnight frost and sway to the rhythm of distant winds. Below one of these branches, an angel weeps alone. The tears of angels do not fall as mortal tears do; rather, divine sorrow floats from reddened eyes like dying embers blown softly into winter air. A halo of tears thus glows around the angel’s crumpled form, seeping in rays of gold between fingers pressed over closed eyes. Do not cry, sweet angel; let light rest in your smile, not in your tears. Let moonlight illuminate the night in silver and staunch the flow of gold from your weary eyes.