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Autumn Leaves

by Ada Knight

Leaves turned a myriad of different colors in anticipation of the upcoming autumn days. They clung to the trees, hoping to make it through the winter. They were sorely disappointed. As every other autumn, he walked the forest preserve, admiring the familiar paths and everything that adorned it. Trees, leaves, flowers and though the days were getting colder, they still provided the joyful sight as during the warmer months.

As if he had turned back in his five-year-old self the minute that his foot stepped on to the path, he couldn’t help but deviate from the stones that led the way through. It was the crunchiness of the multi-colored leaves that made him behave as a kid would. Without hesitation, he let his shoes fall on each one, in turn, letting that wonderful sound hit his ears over and over.

The crisp air allowed the thoughts of the day to flow through his heavy-laden mind. Each day became harder than the next. People lied when they said it would get easier the farther away you get. Time doesn’t heal all wounds no matter how much a person wants them to. It cannot be forced, though he wished it could.

Two years have gone by and there wasn’t a single day in them that he hadn’t thought of his wife and daughter. Losing them had nearly broken him and he knew that it still could. At this moment, this forest that they all frequented together, provided as much pain as it did relief. He could still see how much his daughter laughed at the sound of all living things. She was the one that had made him acknowledge the kid that still lingered inside.

Would it be so bad to meet them again? Does he want to wait until his end came? The thoughts swirled in his mind against his own choice. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the answer to any of those questions. Instead, the pain in his heart only deepened, his mind showing him their beautiful faces.

The further he got, the fewer people that he saw pass him by. Most didn’t wander this far because they also had to make their way back, but to him, it didn’t matter. Even if he tore holes in his shoes from the friction against the ground, he would keep on walking until the tiredness of his muscles brought his mind some relief.

Looking around he spotted it. The tree was half bent as if bowing to the ground. He wondered if he was afraid of heights. Maybe it was time to find out how it would feel to be at that bitter end.

Without thinking, the decision had come to him making him walk towards it. Though his shoes were not designed for any type of climbing, he clambered his way up, grabbing at various branches and cutting his hands. Though it wasn’t too high up at the top, he tried to pretend that he was on a high rise, no less than a hundred stories.

As if walking the plank, he made his way towards the end of the bent branch, toe to heel as if on a tightrope. In the end, he closed his eyes and let his mind do the rest.

Would they want to see you so soon? Would they want him to live out his life? Would they want him to be happy?

His eyes sprung open suddenly. There would be no way that he could do this to his loving wife, even though she was gone. He could see those eyes, loving and scolding him at the same time for some crazy thought he had voiced.

He would see them soon. Nature, much like everything around him, would take its course. With every leaf changing color from colorful autumn to bright green summer, another year would go by. He would be another year older. He hoped that they would want him to try and live a fulfilled life rather than wasting it away. He decided: he would live it for them. The next adventure would begin with the things that they had planned to do together.

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