Breath So Fragile

Out in the cold, the wind is the only thing that moves me. It gently ruffles my hair, adds red to my ashen cheeks, and playfully swirls fallen leaves around me. Before autumn, my breath was an invisible miracle, a thing that kept me living. Now, whenever I let my body heave a simple sigh, a cloud of steam curls up from my mouth, and it is the wind’s job to carry it from sight. The crunchy leaves remain sprinkled across the sidewalk ahead, and spindly tree branches reach out to grab me, their knobby arms scratching mine. Though the cold was almost unbearable without a coat, this is what I cherished most about the season of the fallen leaves. With scenery so beautiful, but temperatures so harshly frigid, it is only a season I have come to call my favorite. Brilliant reds, yellows, oranges, and glum browns speckle the trees and the earth so abundantly, I can hardly tell apart canopy from horizon. Already-bare plants whimper at the sight of their leaves blanketing the ground, while other lush organisms are doomed the same fate. Once again, a puff of steam escapes my mouth and slips away, and I walk, wondering if autumn will disappear that abruptly, too.

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