She materialized beside me while I surveyed the carnage. Her complexion and hair, glowing chartreuse the last time I’d seen her, was now auburn with highlights of ochre.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t be here”, I said to her.
“This forest is my home. I will never leave.”
I looked around to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, then back to her.
“But it’s gone. The forest has been gone for almost a year now. Can’t you tell?”
We stood amidst rubble left behind from the logging company’s activity. Limbs scattered the ground. Sawed off trunks crusted over with dried sap spread for acres, as far as I could see.
Recalcitrant words refused to drop into my mind and all I could do was look at her. The birds were absent, squirrels long abandoned their posts, and the bitter breeze barely tarried from one hilltop to the next.
She bent down, hugged her knees and pointed to a leaf on the ground. It was crisp and ragged, but still whole. With a finger, she pushed it aside and pulled an acorn from under another layer of leaves.
“My duty is here. I will wait.”