Footsteps...in the snow...
Enduring a long, uncertain path with our will...vaguely embracing the invisible trail which they follow...
They are present but one moment, fading with the falling snow the next, reminding us how fleeting life is. As a new footprint is made, an old one ceases to exist...
I have never been much of a poet or philosopher, but I find this subject occupying my mind. It has invaded like an unwanted guest in my time of weakness and refuses to leave. But I would be lying if I said it wasnt somewhat of a comfort.
I wonder...how many days it has been since then. I remember counting the minutes after we laid you to rest in your watery tomb. Through my numbness, I repeatedly had to remind myself that you were gone. The young woman who was kind, merrily spirited, and always found the silver lining to every cloud...she would never again walk with us.
When I first saw you in the park, sitting with him, I never imagined how important you would become to me, to each of us. I could not help but feel a twinge of jealousy every time you spoke of the date he promised you, or the time you asked Cait Sith to predict the compatibility between you and Cloud. I was the one who cared about him from the beginning; naturally I assumed that getting along with you would be nothing short of an obstacle.
Imagine my surprise when you befriended me with nothing but enthusiasm. I admit a part of me genuinely enjoyed having someone I could think of as a sister; though Cloud and Barret were important to me, there were some things I could not discuss with them without provoking a landslide of confusion.
You were a wonderful friend, and a wonderful person. I dont care what Shinra or anyone else thought of you; you were no mere test subject or useless addition to our group of friends. You had a very positive outlook on life, and all you did was give. You gave Cloud support, you gave me advice, you gave Marlene a haven, and Barret hope, as a result. You lifted our spirits, and you brought joy to countless others, including your mother, and of course, Elmyra...
Whenever I think about it, it makes me wonder what deity would cruelly allow the sudden demise of such a wonderful person. I dont understand it. Why are the heartless leaders of Shinra allowed to commit their sins another day, while a life as pure and good as yours is so casually destroyed? It makes no sense to me.
But...despite this injustice, you never let it dampen your day, and you never held a grudge. Even as you lay there lifeless, there was no trace of resentment on your face. You were praying for the good of the Planet until your dying breath. Those were your only thoughts, I could tell. I saw it in your expression...because thats just the kind of person you are, completely selfless.
Four days have passed since then...I remember this now. It has been two days since we found our way to the snow. The wind blusters while the sun burns down on us, freezing and scorching and yet somehow pleasant all at the same time. The breeze plays a rhythm as it gently rolls against us, back and forth, like a mother lulling her child to sleep...as if to console our shattered hearts, to assure us that everything is all right. I recall how you and Elmyra told us of your ability to speak with the Planet, and how the dead were able to speak with you. As the wind continues its song, I imagine your voice in it, as though it were your way of speaking with us. I can sense you trying to assure us that everything is fine, and encouraging us to go on. In fact, I can almost hear you...
"Cloud, be strong...remain strong..."
"Tifa, please take care of Cloud..."
"Barret...Cloud and Tifa need you now, more than ever..."
"You can do it, all of you...I believe in you..."
My tears are threatening to fall again. I turn away from Barret, knowing my actions would demand an explanation. It isnt that he thinks of me as weak; quite the contrary, in fact. He would demand why I looked like I was about to lose it. "Youre a tough girl!" he would say. But right now...I dont believe it.
I have my friends, and yet it feels so lonely. We carry on, but what about your fate? What about your hopes and dreams? What about your purpose? What happened to the promises that you would one day return to us? What happened to the laughter and the pain and the victories and all those things that only we girls could talk about? Gone, taken away...
I dont know if I ever thought of you as the leader type, but with you gone, Ive felt a need to take charge. Perhaps its just seeing Cloud so lonely without you too. Even though I feel jealousy in appropriately small amounts, I wish you were here to take away his pain. No matter how cold he was, and no matter how many times Sephiroth tried to turn him against you...I can honestly see now...in spite of everything...he truly loved you.
It is a brief cold reality I must face, but somehow I am able to. I may never have his heart the way you did, but as long as I am with him, that is all that matters to me. He is my friend, my childhood friend...someone I may have felt the need to cling to after our hometown was destroyed, someone who may not understand himself...but I know in my heart who he is and what he means to me, and thats good enough for me.
I am not the girl to replace you. I have always been there, and I can never take your place. I may never know what its truly like to follow in your footsteps, but Im content with making my own.
I am walking alongside my friends as we continue our trek up this mountain. Theres a town in the distance, and we are moving toward it with a new determination. We are making new prints in the snow without a thought; we do not watch our old prints fade. As we move along, there is more to be seen, more to be accomplished. There is a madman on the loose, and though we may lose sight of ourselves at times, there is one thing we can be certain of -- he must be stopped.
I want to stop him. Not just because of what he did to you, but because of what else he plans to do. Endangering the Planet so that he can become no less than a god...we must do all that we can to stop this.
For your sake.
For the Planets.
We leave all reservations behind, along with our footsteps, buried in the snow.