The smoky clouds overhead threatened snow. Cindy watched alone from her limited viewpoint.
How many times in the last few days had she seen clouds like this? Cindy couldn’t recall. She did however note that the tender white flakes had yet to make their first appearance of the season.
Thinking of seasons made Cindy think of this past summer. A time of fun, a time of friends. Now she was alone, lying in a cold she could not feel, yet perceived nonetheless.
Autumn had passed, the stark trees overlooking the river reached their gnarled flanges outward and upward as if in reverence to the mottled sky. These trees and the sky. This was all that was visible in Cindy’s restrained scope.
Though her visual environment was limited, she could hear perfectly. Sometimes it was children at play, laughing and running down the path along the small river. Other times she heard lovers, using words meant to woo, though Cindy believed that more often than not these outspoken declarations meant nothing.
Through many hours, days, months, Cindy heard the voices of those who passed by. How she longed to join in communication with beings, to have her voice heard by another. But she could not get her voice to work. She found she had no control over the body that was hers.
She still didn’t understand how nobody noticed her. The path was not far from the river, though the water was set down in a shallow ravine. Cindy had thought she heard voices close to where she lie, but no one had made audible notice. She couldn’t remember clearly, as memories of the days past often blended together in a fluid and unending dance, but perhaps it had been during a time when the water had covered her vision.
Now, with the river down, someone should have detected her. As her eyesight was uncovered to reveal the treeline and the sky, it led Cindy to believe that at least her face was revealed, whatever remained.
Where were her friends? Why hadn’t they come looking for her? Had they given up on her? Had they even tried to seek her out? That summer day she had taken a quick jog before she was to meet with a group for dinner at the new diner in town. She was halfway along the path when the man had ended her plans, not only for the evening, but forever.
Yet no one had come, even when the population along the path had dwindled as the weather grew colder. Still she could hear the occasional laughter and even verbal warfare that occurred between others as they made their way to destinations unknown to her. The river’s edge receded from its late summer flood stage to a gentle flow she could hear trickling around her.
Cindy occasionally wondered why she was still here, as she was. She could not look in any direction but that which she faced. She could not move, nor did she feel anything at all. She felt to be a part of her body no longer, but was unable to break free from the firm prison it had become.
Where was the anticipated bright light? Where were those who had gone before her, those who were purported to meet her when her time came? Even the fabled purgatory would have been a relief from the monotonous view Cindy faced day and night.
A glint drew her from her reverie. As she focused, she saw a single snowflake that appeared to land directly on her line of sight, on what she assumed to be her eye, though she had no sensation. Within a minute, that single snowflake had paved the way for a glorious downfall, with plump flakes that swirled and sparkled in a single, scrawny sun ray that threatened to end the powdery display.
Cindy was so caught up in the beauty of the snow she nearly missed the sound of voices drawing closer. These were not the sounds of children playing and laughing as she had expected upon the arrival of the first snow. The voices she heard were of two young women having a hurried discussion as they rushed along the path.
The couple grew nearer, then seemed to stop. Their conversation shifted from later plans to the beauty of the snow on the river. Cindy heard shuffling on the cold-hardened ground as if the strangers were coming down the slope to view the river more closely.
Then it happened. The scream. The horrible cry that Cindy had been yearning to hear for months. It saddened her that another would have to go through such trauma, but it meant she had been discovered at last.
Her auditory sensation was becoming muffled, but she thought she heard one of the young ladies say her name! As the two onlookers peered over her, she could see that they were crying and visibly torn, yet one was on her cell phone, apparently calling in the scene.
As her vision clouded over, immediately preceding the appearance of a bright and blinding light, Cindy’s last recollection was of a single snowflake that appeared to land directly on her line of sight, on what she assumed to be her eye, though she had no sensation.