When she last came here, she was not the one in the wheelchair.
She was abloom then—just like the alpine slopes blooming still. Back then, her heart beat mighty in her chest. Back then, she was the one racing up to the high meadows.
She remembered her first day, fresh-cheeked girl she was, filling her apron with flowers until it could hold no more—only to find them withered by the time she returned to the cottage.
The breathless girl had returned. In one chubby fist, she held out a fresh-picked bouquet.
Adelaide took the flowers. She was an old woman now, her own hand withered, a thorny crown of vein upon its bird-bone architecture.
An age had passed. A hundred civilizations had risen and fallen, and all that comprised the world of ago had been reinvented four times over.
And yet somehow, still—the mountain remained.