The Final Day of Spring is the story of a woman getting ready to die.
From the minute everything begins, our main character Elishe makes it clear that she is prepared for death. She is a sorceress living by herself in a small forest village, her parents having passed on years before and a husband or children being things that were never parts of her life. Elishe seems painfully aware of her fragile state; most of her opening internal monologue concerns the various ways that her body is beginning to fail. She’s proud, though, and unwilling to let the people of her village simply stumble into her home one day and find her corpse on the floor. In her own words, that’s not how she wants to be remembered. Instead, she’ll simply pack a bag with a few days’ worth of supplies, leave at sunrise, and wander off to find somewhere that she’d be happy to die.
Eventually Elishe makes her way to a mountain and sets up camp there, ready to fade away once her water supply runs out. Just a few hours into her stay, however, this plan is derailed by her communicating with the spirit of a flower, which wishes to become human. And Elishe, old, alone, and wishing to have one last hurrah with her magic, says why not.
Part of The Final Day of Spring’s beauty is the way that it commits to Elishe’s desire to end her life. The story constantly acknowledges that she has spent most of her golden years by herself and in constant pain thanks to a curse put on her some time ago. She had been willing to let go of life before the curse was put on her, and now she’s all the more determined to meet her end on her own terms. Elishe isn’t depressed or suicidal necessarily; she is simply looking at her situation from an objective standpoint and has decided that the best choice for herself now is to find some way of bleeding off the magic that’s keeping her alive and letting nature take its course.
Juxtaposed against this elderly woman is a young snowdrop flower who is given three days to be a human. While Elishe reminisces on the mistakes of her youth and tries to come to terms with her own death, Snowy experiences her mountaintop home for the first time with human limbs and senses. One of the first moments she has as a person is to break down crying because the world has far more colors than she had imagined, while Elishe looks on in amazement. Her joy of the world gives the second half of the story sweet and uplifting interludes between Elishe’s somber recollections.
The rest of the story follows these two over their few days together. The reader knows at all times that the relationship between Elishe and Snowy is temporary, of course. Elishe came up to the mountain to die, after all, and the spell she put on Snowy is only meant to last three days. Besides this, the narrative constantly emphasizes the temporal nature of their world. A village boy who visits Elishe tries to convince her that the village doesn’t do things the “old way” anymore, sunrise/sunset motifs are constantly used to move the story along, and Elishe often reiterates to Snowy that magic is something meant to only stay in humans for a short time before they lose the ability to use it. The fact that Elishe’s curse has ensured magic is still in her system after multiple years is both unnatural and horrifically painful; The Final Day of Spring’s universe is one where change and loss are perfectly normal elements of the natural order, and should be embraced as such.
The conflict now revolves around Elishe trying to give Snowy the most and best advice she can in the limited time that they have left together. She doesn’t rethink her choice to pass away on the mountaintop, but quietly laments that she won’t be able to do more for Snowy before their time is up. Elishe grieves the situation, yet remains firm in her conviction to finish what she started when she left the village. Instead of bemoaning the few days they’ll have together, Elishe is at peace and chooses to impart whatever wisdom she can for Snowy in that period.
This isn’t a story about a dying woman finding a new lease on life. The Final Day of Spring is simply an account of how one person chooses the way they can die, and the impact that they’re willing and able to leave behind before their end comes. The next chapter of Snowy’s life is uncertain; Elishe has experienced a few visions that hint at Snowy being able to find Elishe’s village and stay there for a while, but beyond that her ultimate fate is a mystery. And that’s ok. This is Elishe’s story; Snowy was just lucky enough to be part of it at the end.
The Final Day of Spring is available for free on lemmasoft. Read it.