unwitnessed

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Warmth stirred the sleeper, siphoning her from the cosiness of a dream well lived. Although a ready objection to the extraction played on her lips, the return of rational thought brought with it silence even as her mind chased the fading fantasy.

Dazed but conscious, she sprung to sitting. Limbs stiffened from lack of movement unkinked through slow a ritual of sustained stretching that culminated in the concaving of her back, an action delivering a paradoxical mix of soreness and pleasure. A look in the mirror produced an unsatisfying site, what with matted hair and one ear folded forward and creased. She massaged the flopped one in hopes frictional stimulation encouraged its return to an erect form. A hurried brushing completed her grooming, essential for any potential sightings on the coming main journey.

The prospect of spring brought the usual need for a tornadic effort. Ever accepting of the duty, Yana got moving with a long bound toward a prodigious store of food staples collected in fall. She ate with little regard for the manners she imposed on countless generations of young’uns. A bit of sheepishness tickled her over the personal indulgence.

Satiated but not quite ready for the Big Push, Yana made her way out-of-doors, savouring the freshening warmth of an easy southwest breeze, its tender caress a joy never diminished across time.

Deciding a good walk would shake the last of her grogginess and better prep her for the transcontinental rush, Yana packed a knapsack with a jug of water and her favourite veggies, and set off for the low rolling hills behind the nearby town. One minded in her dedication, her thoughts drifted to the list of things she need do pre-trip, leaving her oblivious to a barren environment off kilter in time. Not the absence of spring flowers nor the distant peaks, naked without their bright white bonnets at winter’s end, caught her attention. Despite the day’s warmth, the bright orb that stripped them by summer hugged closer to the southern horizon.

Only when she rested at the tippy top of the rounded second hump of Camel Hill did Yana suss something askew. None of the trees showed signs of budding. Soon, she noticed the other conditions.

“Curious. Yes, curious,” she said aloud while reaching in her bag for a veggie stick.
Rather than backtrack home she continued on, deciding to pass through the nearest town, following the low trail. She hit the first of its streets at the early for Yana onset of dusk, just as many small lights switched on. Strings of all white luminescence glowed around many homes. One illumed in soft blue, while others featured multi-colour, a few of which blinked in a regular rhythm. Singular lights twinkled in windows.

“Curious, most curious,” Yana said to no one but herself.

Caricatures of the same rotund man in a red and white suit and cap riding a sleigh pulled by reindeer occupied lawns and stretched across roofs.

Unfamiliar with why the town would honour the unknown man with such ostentatious displays, Yana dragged on, fighting the hurt of a cramping leg as well as her obvious ignorance. The long day ended with her on her back, stretching and rubbing the curling limb.

Not interested in sleep but easy prey for meditative thought, Yana replayed what she learned on the hike, of the rotund man in clothing not warn by the indigenous inhabitants, seated in a sleigh built for transport on snow and ice, conditions Yana never experienced and never cared to try. Dawn came late, dragging with its renewed warmth an outlet for her pent up curiosity. Back to town Yana went, her eyes working with the intensity of a detective on the hunt.

What she didn’t see struck hard. No displays of hand painted eggs, none semi-hidden with the intent of feeding a successful search. No festive baskets and no eggs – not a one – showed anywhere.

“Curious, most curious,” Yana said.

While not prone to panic, intense interest hid Yana in town throughout the day, observing. Music filled public spaces, quirky songs about bells, a shunned reindeer with a glowing snout, singing chipmunks, and stacked snowballs come to life. Not one tune about spring renewal or hopping down trails. In religious circles, songs celebrated a birth, not renewal from death. People rushed about acquiring, cloaking their gathered hoards in colourful paper and bows. No eggs.

Curious, most curious.

For near a fortnight, Yana returned to town by night, scribbling notes onto the pages of several volumes. On the final trip, people returned home early, many before Yana arrived at her outpost. Transfixed by the happy gatherings of family and friends, she failed to notice darkness overran the region not by way of sunset, but through a thickening celestial covering carrying torrential rain and once unleashed, occasional flashes of thunder inducing lightning. Her hidden post offered only shelter from visible detection, not refuge from sky-borne inclemency.

Beyond the sharp line ending the driving rain, cold swooped in. Not a spring chill, the cold flash froze puddles and glazed roadways and walks. Yana shivered, once, twice, and within minutes, in an unstoppable shaking so violent she feared for her life. Wind sang in peculiar intermittent whistles, swaying leafless trees until they protested in mighty squeals and creaks. Some snapped, unable to stand against the invisible northwest onslaught.

Coping with failing endurance smothered her awareness of time. Consciousness blurred into a welcome sleepiness, a passive escape from screaming nerves warning of doom. She didn’t see nor did she hear the approach of the large man with the beard, his jovial nature stripped away by concern. Mission be damned for the moment he thought. Some things come first.

And so he saved the life of one he long admired. In truth, both she and he succumbed to the fickle tricksters of climate change, thrown off their games by the unthinking who refused to act.

When next Yana woke, she met the man who saved her. She knew him only through lawn and roof representations, but she recognised his good heart at once. On that waking day, the two resolved to redirect, to motivate humanity to save their world from themselves.

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