5. You’re getting sadder, getting sadder, and I don’t understand, and I don’t understand
Around the time when Teal stops his attempts to hide from Gale and run down the mountain, the trees are dancing in their brightest shades of gold and red, the ground layered with fallen leaves. It is when Gale is sitting under a tree with a tattered yellow leaf that Teal finds him, breathing harshly with a flushed face.
Without saying a word, Teal tears the leaf out of Gale’s fingers and crushes it under a foot. Slowly, Gale lowers his hands onto the ground and gazes at Teal with a quiet smile.
“I hate these colors,” Teal seethes, and stomps on the leaf one last time with a soft crunch. “They’re too loud. They burn my eyes.”
Gale’s smile falters for only the smallest fraction of a moment, then brightens once again. “It’ll be okay.”
As soon as the world brightens the next day, Gale walks deep into the surrounding trees. He scoops up an armful of leaves and buries his nose in their warm scent, sliding his eyes shut.
The wind whispers through his hair and he feels the leaves crumbling into fractured ice at his feet. Around him, his world heaves a cold sigh and the crimson ground drowns in a flurry of snow crystals. In a second the sky has melted gray and the air is biting and accusing against his face. Slumping onto the softened ground, Gale digs his fingers into the snow and allows winter to tear into his throbbing veins.
Later he sees that the world has shifted too quickly for anything else but himself when he finds the furry bodies within a grave of ice. For days, the sky never stops pouring frozen tears until he smashes his hand into a bloody smear with a stone, managing to focus instead on the red spreading through the ground.
Gale finds Teal frozen to death an hour after and the world explodes into its first blizzard. As Teal’s body is beginning to lose its pale blue coloring, Gale silently screams at the wind to seep into everything there is and infect the mountain with the iciest winter that no living thing has ever seen before.
It is the last time Gale tells Teal that it’ll be okay.
6. Don’t resent me, and when you’re feeling empty, keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest
Teal opens his eyes with a rattling cough only when the storm of ice dies down outside, his back cracking as he pulls himself up partway. He cringes in the cold air, each one of his gasps a faint plume of white.
He glances at Gale, who had been sitting like a part of the cave ever since Teal’s fingers began twitching. Nonrecognition glitters like shattered ice shards in Teal’s eyes, and the sharp ends pierce Gale’s chest with hardly any resistance.
Before Teal can utter a word, Gale reaches forward and snaps his neck.
The setting sun finds Gale gently turning Teal onto his side from where he was sprawled lifelessly, eyes lingering blankly on the other’s. Then, with the snow melting outside, Gale hugs his knees to his chest and spends the days leading up to summer ripping his eyes out again and again.
Days after the trees flourish green, men climb the mountain in search of animals and roots. It isn’t long until they stumble across the slumbering man in a cave that is queerly devoid of all other life.
And, hushing even the wind itself, Gale crouches behind a tree and lets them take Teal away.
(Later, digging his fingertips into the rough tree bark, he hangs his head to weep through the silence.)