Free Falling

The ash had fallen for month, piling up like snow. They wore a kerchief over their mouth, often wet to catch the ash before it could enter their mouth. The water dripped down their chin. They didn’t remember the last time they were dry. They didn’t remember the last time they had breathed good air.

“Is the mountain going to fall down?” their friend asked, as they had every morning.

They pushed the branches aside, ash sliding off to float to the ground, as it had every time the branches moved. They looked out, as though the mountain might actually move. It stood there, silent. As silent as the ash.

They tried not to swallow. Water, ash. Tired of both. “Not today.”