Vignette II: Aurae

Image courtesy of Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

The hospital was cool and white, with dull grey blankets and hard beds. The nurses did the best they could, fluffing the pillows and piling the blankets to keep out the chill.

He did not mind the hard bed, the white walls, or even the itchy casts that held his legs stiff and straight. When asked why he seemed to be taking his confinement so well, he would just smile and answer vaguely, “I like the view.”

Because his bed, you should know, lay at the end of the room, well away from the noise of the corridor and right up against the window. And outside that window stood a very old tree, its branches knotted and curled, its leaves just edged in yellow as the seasons began to turn.

A breeze made her home in that tree, a shy wind who — for no reason that he could fathom — had taken a liking to him. And she would dance and cavort through the branches of the tree, making first one move and then another: to cast a curious shadow, the shield him from the sun, to halo the moon. She would swish through the leaves, pulling them into first one shape and then another: an owl, a squirrel, a laughing face.

And when the doctors pronounced him well enough to return home, though with a stern admonishment to never try a stupid stunt like that again, he asked that they open the window. The doctors frowned, the nurses shrugged and smiled. And, with them all watching, he leaned across the sill towards the tree and said, “Thank you.”

And the breeze, laughing, slipped the last of the red-gold leaves free of the tree’s hold, swirling and twirling them: a smile, a face, long hair, soft shoulders and round hips.

A kiss, the taste of autumn and rain across his lips, while the doctors and nurses gaped, and then she was gone, whirling away into the wide grey sky.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published works can be found there.]