Little girls never quite forget, long after it is best to. (Rin vignette, post-series)
It is the time of the falling of the leaves. That is, the transition between the warm season when Rin watches her children splashing in the stream down the hill from her house until the age of cold, where they huddle together underneath blankets next to the fire, little mountains colored gold by a caged sunset.
Rin knows this season well. She knows it like the faces of her children, peeking first shyly over the hills with a chilled breeze that colors the red amaryllis purple with frost. It’s the time when her eldest sons rush out into the icy mud, returning minutes later with ruddy faces colored cherry by the blistering air. A time when her husband bustles in with the zephyr heavy at his back as he drops wet firewood near the roaring flames where dinner bubbles over with froth.
There are other memories, too, that drop down in many-patterned spirals to shift and settle in large piles at the base of where memory begins. They are worn and old and faded by the dim specter of history, categorized by remember when? and was it like that? that have gradually shifted into growing piles that flutter down and gather in the eaves of her mind. Time and time again, she has promised to sweep them all away, wishing it farewell with the whistle of the wind
But memory – a funny thing, she thinks – serves her well, even as age has wasted youth and left her frail. Always, it is with the falling of the first snow that she finds herself on the precipice of now and then. With a heedless diving in, she scatters assembled memories back into the four corners of mind and soul. In between who? and where? and do you recall when? she dreams of cold mountain valleys and moonflower hair, recalls for her children fanciful tales of long walks with kind dragons, toads that make no prince – not even if you really kiss them –, of lords and monsters and stories where they two are one. This she says with a mother’s mildness as she tugs blankets up to chins, turning over day into night. And with a shuffling of her fingers, memory is relegated back to what was.
Outside her window, Rin watches as the leaves fall. Routine has taught her to organize the world by sight and smell. The wind carries the scent of passing time wafting through her rafters to settle on her shoulders with a whisper, /remember when?/, before settling low in her heart. It’s been years since they’ve parted, longer since they’ve moved on. She imagines he has since forgotten her and gone about again in his own way. In her mind, he is a haughty, beautiful, untouchable thing in a castle made of ice. Why this matters still, she doesn’t know.
But she answers nonetheless.