The woman stood by the evergreen, her fingertips curling around the dry bark. Most of the blue spruces' branches had been clipped off, sitting in the dirt. Without them, the interior of the fort was easier to access, yet reluctance hit her. It'd been years since she'd stepped into The Base. The memories that lingered on her tongue brought bitterness into her mouth, and grievance into her heart.
Everyone was gone.
The rocks where she'd used to sit on and kick her legs were overturned and cast aside like they were nothing. A threadbare flag hung on a fragile branch, most of the color washed away by time. She heard children's voices from the present and past mingling. The voices of the past were outweighed by the contemporary ones. Crushed under a fallen rock was a clay bracelet with memories of each one of her friends etched into them. But it was no longer recognizable as jewelry, instead it was just a lump of the good and bad times they'd shared at one point in the far past.
She stepped out from among the trees, looking back only once with cries of acceptance.