You awake only when ash falls gently onto your skin. You open your eyes, look up at the sky. Small flecks of ash are falling and you hold a hand up over your face, shielding yourself. You sit up slowly, look around. A vague sense of familiar fills you, but you can't place it.
You stay in place for a moment, look around. The wasteland makes you pause, think about what has happened. Everything is burnt and from what you see, has been for a long time.
Shifting onto your knees, you set a hesitant hand on the ash covered ground. It's warm to the touch. With both hands, you begin to sift through the ash, looking for something. Anything. You don't know what it is, but you search. Every time.
In just a few seconds, your hands are turned black, but still you search. Unaware of the wind shifting slightly, the ash ceasing to fall. Your purpose is unclear in your mind, but it is there. You must search. Something is there.
You move closer to a tree, continue your search. I try to stop you, but as I reach for your arm, you flinch away. Something incredibly warm had gotten too close. That's all you know. But you can't see it. You dismiss it as your mind playing tricks on you. Lately, it's been happening a lot. More and more frequently.
I pull back away from you. If I touch you, I know it will hurt. So I stand back and wait. You can't see me. You wonder if you are still sane even as you continue your search. Silently, I wish for you to stop, to just sit there and stay with me, even if you don't know I'm here. You get closer to your target and I am forced to speak up, but all you hear is the wind. To you, that is my voice - the wind rushing past your ears.
And then you find it. Your hand hits something small, hard and warm. You dig further into the ash, pull it out carefully in your hands. An acorn. Something so simple, yet it brings a smile to your face. It is a sign. A sign that the forest will grow back, as strong and sturdy as ever.
I take joy in that small smile, but I know it will end in pain. When you find it, you fade slowly away from me. Back to Her. Back to the cold. I can't stop you without hurting you, scarring you. As much as I want you to be mine, as much as I want to know that she can't hurt you . . . I have to let you go.