Mariah came to me in a cold puff of sea-salty winter air blowing snow into my
chilled face. She never gave me her name, nor did I ever really see her, yet
I called her Mariah in honor of the wind in which she always came to me. We
had but a single year together. And together may be the wrong word for even
She was a playfull sprite, making it hard to shovel the drifts out of the
path to my mailbox. There are few games you can play with somebody you can
never touch. I knew that she as there in as much as she enjoyed playing with
me. If anybody would have known about us, he would not have understood our
simple games played in the wilds of the untamed elements.
Gentle puffs of icy but warm winds blew snow around my nose. I almost felt her
tap my right arm, then run joyously to my left side before I could turn. I
threw another shovel load onto the pile and she rolled a snowball down the
synthetic model of a mountain and onto my foot. Her perfume was lite in the
cold air surrounding us and I could barely detect it.
With a sneaky smirk on my face, I decided to ignore her game just to annoy
her. She covered me in snow with a wirlwind through the chasm I had been
cutting into the newfallen snow. I shook the snow from my winter clothes as
a dog would, more from play than from necessity. But, the cold bit deep into
my weak, mortal flesh and I had to leave my amusing friend for the warmth of
My home was one of the few places that I never saw her. It is not that I ever
did see her, just that she gave no sign of ever being within my house. If she
had crossed the threshold, we never played indoors. She gave no sign, not even
a caressing nudge, to betray her presence. And, she was gone from my life
before I noticed that.
Spring bit with a chilled warmth to Mariah's gusty touch. Rain fell as sparks
stripped of their red-blue brilliance and embued with a white luminosity all
their own. Expecting searing heat from these sparks, I was almost suprised by
their sublime chill. Suprise could not touch me as I was lost in the wonder
of the image before me.
Mariah played with the rains as she had with the snow. She had it fall upward
around me. Holding open my shirt with a puff of warm air, the cold rain hit
my exposed flesh at Mariah's command. I felt as though I had been suspended in
the sky. At first afraid of falling, I let go and hovered in the winds as
though I had actually left the ground.
She had me safe in her gusty embrace. It is not that I felt truely safe, the
thrill was in the danger, but that there was no real danger. Both wide awake,
we played in a half forgotten dream. Our companionship in that spring gave me
a sense of life which I had never before known. Had as much been truely known
to me I would have said that I loved her.
Green sprouts from the awakening trees slapped against me in Mariah's
signature whirlwind. I smelled her clean perfume all around me. Engulfed in
the experience, I abandoned care for a moment's peace and cheerfull play. It
had grown too warm for me to freeze and, as the days lengthened, so did our
The smell of fresh cut grass was a special enjoyment of Mariah's. It mixed
with the undefined scent of her perfume as she danced in the sunrise and
sunset of each day. When I could get away, I danced in the dim light through
all the colors and hues of the rainbow with my friend. Grass made slick by the
daily dew would not support either of us had we remained still.
With the blackest shades of each day's nightfall, Mariah parted company with
me. She faded into the dusk to leave me alone and I resented the darkness for
With the heat of summer, Mariah didn't lose her gentle chill. We had a drought
that year. Even Mariah couldn't bring the rains for the parched land, thus we
had to have new games. We could rarely use precipitation in our play, so wind
alone had to suffice.
I played chase and tag with a wirlwind in the cooling part of the darkening
day. Summer's heat would not steal my friend nor the simple games which we
shared in the laziest days of the year. She left the brightness of day for the
cooler evenings so that we could share our evenings.
It appeared that I was no longer alone in my notice of Mariah. My neighbor's
dogs barked at her whenever she came near to them. Unlike me, they feared what
they could not see. I blew the seed pods from a dandilion into the hot, dry
air and Mariah scattered them into the clouds. The dogs stood guard over their
territory at a safe distance from Mariah's path into the sky.
The air grew stale, drenched in sweat of its own, each evening and Mariah
wrung a torrid mist from it. It didn't even matter to me if Mariah had a shape
of her own. Light breaking around the water droplets of Mariah's mist formed
a sheet of sequins around her any time she came between a light and me. These
were the only times I could really have tagged my Mariah, but I was not
really playing to win. We played for play's sake and companionship.
Fall brought a shortening of the days and games. Even Mariah's staying into the
darkness did not allow us the full measure of time for which we had earlier
shared the simplicity of play. Other winds came to play with the falling
foliage, but only Mariah played with me. Of them all, Mariah was the only vent
of air to be more than a gust of wind.
We played dodge in the rising and setting sun. Streams of brightly colored
vegitation came at me from within Mariah's form. It was easy to avoid being
hit at first, however, I soon learned how fast Mariah could reload her
whirlwinds. Easily hit at first, I learned to move faster until I played the
new game as an expert. But, I did not win my first game until the ending of
the season brought a shortage of weapons for Mariah's arsenal.
As the year drifted closer to its end, we would lay out in the piles of damp
leaves to watch the rising of the moon and the crossing of the stars. Mariah
would relax by keeing a single leaf aloft within the background of space. It
would dart quickly back and forth across the face of the moon, then hover
motionless to ready for its next race.
Unable to see the Earth at our backs, it might as well not have been there.
Was it an illusion that the fallen remnant of a year in the life of a tree
could float outward amongst the stars? Could it live alone in the vast
timelessness, playing forever in the single year of its life where time itself
had been forbidden to go? A single moment separated from the year of the leaf
by less than a second had been frozen to last forever.
Only Mariah and I knew about it.
It was on the last day of our aquaintence that she first spoke to me. She had
a gentle voice, not unlike a breeze on a spring day. Beneath that lie a bitter
chill hinting at dark winter hiding around the next corner or under a rock
upon which you are about to step. I am not even sure that her speach used words
as we know the use of the term.
She spoke to me with the sadness of a leaf falling to the pavement after a year
glistening in the sun. I knew between the time she spoke the first syllable and
the moment I heard the first word that our time together had come to an end.
My head sank to look away almost as though I could actually see her.
"We have had a full year together," she began. "And the time has come for
both of us to grow beyond this childhood state which can no longer hold either
As though I had a choice, I tried to formulate a protest to voice. Failing
that, yet wanting to once more speak to my old friend, I replied," I will miss
you for many times this year."
I could almost see her smilling in the cheerfull tone of her voice. "I shall
never cease to miss you."
A heavy darkness came upon me as the sun set before the moon rose. As I could
see nothing, I could pretend that I could see my Mariah. She had golden strands
of hair reflecting the brilliance of the stars as it flowed on top of the
passing breeze. My eyes became accustomed to the darkness and shattered the
"It's just that my parents tell me I am now too old for an imaginary playmate,"