The night air is cold. The wind moves through the trees, you can hear it coming up and over the valley as the trees both branches and leaves creak, susurrate then settle. The wind reaches and washes over her, around and through her. Any exposed skin is flayed raw by the additional chill as it passes by. It weaves its way into any gap in her clothing, finds new areas to touch. She shivers, hugs herself then braces till it settles.
The crisp air can be felt on her tongue and every inhalation burns its way through to her lungs. She breathes deeply and can smell the wood smoke and storm in the air. As she looks down the valley she can see the lights dotted about, indicating life going on inside. People talking, eating, drinking. Safe, warm, protected, unaware of her outside watching them.
The smoke that exits the chimneys is taken away by the wind and joins the clouds that roll along. The stars are bright behind the clouds, they show themselves clearly as the clouds swirl around. Then the clouds close in around them and they are muted. Still there shining as they have for so many millennia.
She is alone outside in the cold. She once read in a book that the secret to not being cold is to embrace it as a lover rather than to fight against it. She relaxes from her tight hug and lets the chill take her face, her hands. She lets it in rather than pushing it away.
The silence of the night is once again broken by the winds passing through the trees. The wind rises up then ceases, the sound dies and there is relief only for it to start up a moment later. The noise is starting to overwhelm her the more numb she becomes the more noticeable the drone in her head is. In the same way she accepted the cold she tries to accept the noise, she no longer braces but lets it overtake her. She gives it her full attention and listens to it, unwavering, a constant pitch always in the background till now. She struggles with the whine more than the cold. When cold takes over it leaves a hot numbness that makes it an easy companion.
The noise however abates just long enough to bring some welcome relief. Only just as you think it’s gone it returns and once again you are overcome with it.
The cold deepens, the wind picks up, there is no cessation now, only escalation. The clouds thicken their coverage of the sky and the lights that are shining bright are covered by their curtain over the night.
The darkness becomes thicker and she can no longer even see the winking lights in the distance. The wind is now a torrent of sound and sensation. The constant hum in her head escalates to the exclusion of all else. It’s all she can focus on, she stops fighting it and it takes away thought, and sight and feeling, leaving only the high pitched whine.