The Humanity of Nature


Elizabeth Morin '22, Co-Editor of Austin Authors

I stood with feet glued to the ground while I watched the sunrise for the 4380th time of my life. This was a ritual she helped me become fond of many years ago. She told me that if you stand in the flowers and watch the sunrise every morning and the sunset every evening, you become a part of the world. I wish she was still here to tell me when exactly I became one with the dirt below me and the clouds above me. When the fire doesn’t seem to burn me anymore and the river rapids become easier to swim in. During my morning and evening reflection, I always prayed that she would give me just one hint that she was still here. Not physically but maybe mentally. She told me she’d like to come back as a fairy when she passed.

A fairy!? I think you forget that those are fantasy,” I laughed at her while we were eating her birthday cake. She made it from the nature outside, it looked beautiful.

She shrugged and cut herself another slice, “Who says? I’ve seen many things out here that I wouldn’t have thought to be real before I moved in.”

“Yes, but we’ve lived here for years now. I’m sure we would’ve seen signs of fairies if they were in this part of the woods wouldn’t we Sonia?”

She had a twinkle in her eye like she knew something that I had yet to understand, “Maybe you have to be a part of the earth first to see them.”

I rolled my eyes, “Stop mocking me with that. I’m doing everything you asked me to. I don’t know when I’ll connect.”

She nodded, chewing her food, “You’ll know one day. You’ll know.”

She never told me how I’d know. She connected long before I had, but it wasn’t this big ceremony like I expected. I guess she felt something magical happen but the only physical change was that she had that damn twinkle in her eye.

A huge gust of wind made me open my eyes and shake me from my memories. I wished the sun would rise faster. It was cold and I could feel my fingers fading into a blueberry blue color. The gust of wind hit again and I had to dig my toes into the ground further.

“Nina,” A whisper came and went with the wind. I jumped from my serenity and looked around for who said that. It sounded like Sonia.

I gasped and placed my hand over my mouth. The woods would get mad if I shrieked so early in the morning. I wiggled my feet out of the dirt and followed the wind, far away from my home.

Nina,” I felt the wind hit my back again, slightly to my left shoulder. I needed to turn left, but the rapids were over there. The last time I tried to cross those were, well…it was many years ago.

Nina, come,” The wind pushed so hard I couldn’t put my feet into the ground hard enough to stop.

“I can’t!” I yelled back to the wind, “Last time I tried this, Sonia died!”

“Come on Nina!” She laughed from the other side of the rapids, “Just jump from rock to rock. The water will guide you.”

“That is bull, Sonia!” I trembled from the other end. I had watched little squirrels jump in there to try and rescue new acorns but never make it out.

“Just breathe and close your eyes. Like I said, the water will guide you. Go slow and take your time and when you get close enough to the rope swing, jump and catch it.”

I always trusted Sonia. She was older than me, smarter than me, prettier than me. I wanted to please her so I jumped to the first rock.

I jumped onto the first rock. My body was trembling and no amount of breathing could calm me down. But the wind was pushing me to keep going. I was too far away now. I hopped to the second rock, almost slipping. I wanted to vomit but I knew that would displease the water and she wouldn’t try and help me anymore. 

Okay, you made it through the rocks, just jump on the swing now. You’re so close!”

She was right. I did make it this far, so who was to say I couldn’t cross a rope swing? We had plenty of those near our home. I placed one foot back to give myself a boost and threw myself towards the old rope.

My hand slipped.

I plummeted towards the sharper rocks below at rapid speed. This was it. I lost.

I felt as if time slowed her clock so I could appreciate my last few moments before death. My lifeless body slowly fell as Sonia jumped down after me. Time was too slow for me to speak, so I couldn’t ask what she was doing. She had gone mad. 

For the first time, I saw panic in my dear friend Sonia’s eyes. She grabbed my shoulders and shoved me away from the sharp rocks towards the water where my body could land unharmed. Oh, how I wanted to scream as I watched her fall into the sharp rocks. I wanted to cry and scream and burn these woods to the ground. 

Sonia had sacrificed herself for me so I would have more time to connect to the earth and be able to come back as nature. All of the people who lived in my home before me were part of nature. If I died right now, I would simply be a corpse. Sonia gave me extra time to learn how to connect, but at this point, I’m unsure if that will ever happen.

I approached the rope swing, determined to make it to the other end. Sonia didn’t die for anything. I had to live long enough to be able to connect and be with her again one day. I thrust myself onto the rope the same way I did 7 years ago, except this time, my hand stayed attached. I felt the wind push the rope to the other end and I hopped off safely. I squealed with excitement when I realized what had just happened. I was alive. I had my second chance. 

Dark clouds rolled overhead and it started to rain. As the little droplets hit me, I heard thousands of voices cry, “Go! Go! Go!” I laughed at the sky as my face became soaking wet, and I ran as fast as I could to where the wind was leading me. 

The gust stopped at a beautiful, gray, circular monument I had never seen before. It looked like it was half broken as pieces were crumbled to the ground. I wondered if Sonia had been here before she died since she had been able to cross the rapids many times before her death.

“What is this?” I asked out loud as I continued to get soaked by the rain which was no longer speaking to me. 

I stepped closer and ran my hand along the edges. Some gray powder from it got onto my fingers and I ran it through my whole hand. Sonia had to have some connection with this place that she never told me about.

I saw a faint light coming from inside the circle. I climbed in through the hole made from the rubble and saw something I never would have expected. 

Fairies. Everywhere. They were all moving around, going about their day, clearly unbothered by the giant that was watching them. I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing with joy. She was right, she was always right. They were real.

I saw one light, in particular, that was more of a purple than yellow. She wasn’t bustling around like the others were, instead, fluttering towards me. 

This was Sonia.

I felt myself start to cry as the fairy flew up to me and laid her feet into my palm.

“I’m sorry,” I cried, thankful I could see my friend again, “I’m sorry I haven’t connected yet. I’m sorry you died for me.”

I couldn’t see any details on her small face, but her wings sent a wind that dried the water off my face. That was her way of saying it’s okay.

“I made it across the river for you,” I wanted to tell her everything that’s happened since she passed, “Oh so much has happened…will you come back to the house? I can make the nature cake just as you used to-”

She cut me off by batting a hot wind to my face. I took that as a no. Not an angry no, but a, I can’t. My place is here now. 

I nodded, ready to take her outside the monument where there was more space and tell her about all my adventures alone in the woods. 

Suddenly I felt my body surge with light and powerful energy that took my breath away. I felt like I was shocked by electricity. 

“Did I just connect?” I said quietly to my friend.

I saw ever so quickly, a little head nodding with the same excitement that Sonia used to give me when we talked about connecting. I thought it would never happen to me, never mind with my best friend. But alas, I sat contently with the earth and caught up with my friend on all of the news in the woods.