The valley

All the coldness was gone now. There was only James and the landscape, no snow, no ice, nobody else for miles. There had been red squirrels, but he could no longer hear their chattering. Their trees had blossomed, free of bow-bending loads, then withered and burnt and fallen to the ground in neat piles of ash.

The valley James looked down was scalded, its soil roasted into ridges and cracked furrows. At the end, almost too far to see, one yew had kept its greenness. He stepped forward, peered. The tree caught, blazed, vanished. After that, James always stayed still.

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