As death often is, the weather is quick. Earlier in the day, the sun’s touch was hot. Cicadas sang to me as I walked through high-grassed fields, voices so loud they nearly drowned out my thoughts.
As I reached the woods, the cicadas went silent, running for shelter as thick black clouds rolled into view. The clouds rumbled, light flashing behind them.
As I took shelter under a dying pine tree, rain fell like the mist of a waterfall, becoming more thick and heavy as time ticked past.
Water rolled down my cheeks but it wasn’t from the rain. I clutched my hands over my heart, face wrinkling as tears built up in the back of my throat. A heaviness made my shoulders shake and I bent over screaming into the howling rainstorm.
Over my heart, under my clasped hands, I could feel the cool bite of silver. The silver was shaped in a slim circle with a picture pressed inside.
I remember when the picture was first taken. My partner and I had been climbing trees. They climbed as high as they could up an old oak and I had held up my camera, freezing his smile in time forever.
As fast as the weather and as fast as it takes to climb a dead tree, death came for my partner, stomping its heavy foot against the branch they stood on.
Now, days later, I sit alone, surrounded by the trees we never had the chance to climb together. Lightning cracks around me, striking the tall oaks and sending a spray of twigs and leaves all over.
My breathing evens out as I watch the lightning and I find myself standing. I walk up to an old oak and press my forehead to its strong trunk.
“One last time,” I whisper and I begin to climb.