Story Of A Leaf

September 3, 2010
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Looking out at the adjacent trees that surrounded the open field, it was becoming more and more apparent with each passing day that the world as he had always known it was changing. The leaves that once painted a green idyllic image were fading. The horizon line was now filled with dirty yellows and rotting oranges. He was confused and dumbfounded by this ever-changing scenery. This metamorphosis was something he had never witnessed: something so foreign.

He waited a few short moments for a gentle breeze to blow; he was then face to face with Ernest, his best friend. It wasn’t as if he had many friends to choose from being as he was immobile: stuck in place on his one single branch.

“Ernest,” he questioned, “what is happening to the leaves over there: the ones on the trees? Why are they changing color?” Ernest looked at him with what was considerably a blank expression painted upon his face. He himself had not even take notice to his transforming surroundings; now Ernest, too, began to wonder.

“I don’t know…” he quietly replied to Gregory.

Gregory then turned back to his natural position and continued with his eyes fixated on the trees across the way. He became very introspective as he observed the leaves taking their leap of fate from their branch and letting the cool air cradle them down to them down to the ground. He could not wrap his mind around such an idiosyncratic idea. Gregory’s head began to spill out questions, one after another; questions he didn’t know how to answer.
The colors, why are they changing? Not only that but now the others are falling, or maybe they are jumping, or perhaps being pushed. Gregory conjured up a gross number of hypotheses as to what could truly have been occurring. An iced chill was then sent down his spine as he quivered in response to the unnaturally low temperature. “What is happening!” the words seemed to slip from his mouth; a hint of annoyance could easily have been detected in his voice. He had let those near him hear this thought meant to stay in his head.
“Honey what are you yelling about?” his mother asked from the branch above his. “You are making a scene” her voice lowered in hope to alleviate some of the attention her son had drawn to them.
“Mom what’s going on with all the trees?”
“Gregory, what are you talking about?”
“Just look at them! Can you not see that they are changing?”
“Would you keep your voice down?” his mother said in a forceful whisper. “Now, don’t you worry about what’s happening to the other trees. Worry about yourself. You don’t know what could be waiting for those leaves on the ground. Be happy with what you have, happy that that you are safe and bonded with your branch. This is what you were given and you need to simply accept that for what it is”, with that the conversation ceased. Gregory’s thoughts played on repeat for all hours of the night.
Morning soon came and when Gregory woke up he was taken aback. He was not certain that he was truly awake; he thought he might still have been dreaming. However the chilling winds reassured him of his consciousness. He was in awe of what was placed before his eyes. Gregory could see only the skeleton of the other trees. They were barren, stripped, deprived of the leaves that once gave them shape and meaning. These leaves now lay on the ground detached from the place, only hours ago, they knew as home. He could not keep his mind from being subjected to that of wonder.
Time passes and Gregory’s eyes seemed to have glazed over as he was in a trance, eyes still drawn to the leaves on the ground. The possibilities as to what was happening became endless. All Gregory wanted now was to be on the ground with them, experiencing what ever it was that they were experiencing. This curiosity began to eat at him alive. The idea of not knowing only intrigued him more.
“Mom why can’t we be on the ground?” Gregory inquired, as he bent back toward her direction. “Mom...?”, but she wasn’t there, nobody was. Everyone who he had lived with for his entire life had fallen from the tree. Gregory was left alone. He was one small leaf on the end of one small branch that connected to a massive tree rooted in the ground. The wind touched him and he moved slightly to the right, then left, then right again. The winds rhythm persisted and enticed him to imply his own force and to rock in sync to the blows, in effort to knock himself free. Failed attempt after failed Gregory ultimately became too tired and over worked to try even one last time.
A deep voice then spoke “Excuse me, is everything ok?”
“Huh? Who said that…”, Gregory panicked at this voice that appeared to be manifesting out of nowhere. However, it sounded old and wise, a bit gravelly and rough.
“It is me,” the voice said back.
“‘Me’? Who…who are you.”

A thick chuckle then came from the source of this voice, followed by saying “I am the trunk”

“The trunk?” Gregory questioned, still confused.

“Yes son, the trunk of the tree”

“Oh, I always thought it was only us leaves that could talk, not the branches and other parts”

“My son, how you have got things wrong. It is but the contrary to that at very least. My branches live for quite some time witnessing the changes that come with each passing year. I however, well I have been here more years that one could think, it must be at least two hundred years now. I have seen thousands of faces on my branches, each year I fill with a new set.”

“Wait, so you have been around for years? And this change, this always happens”

“Why of course my child” the trunk replied calmly as he has experienced this many a times with the last leaves to fall.

“ Okay, so then why is everyone on the ground? Why have I been forced to stay up here alone? I just want to be with everyone else! Why can’t I have that?”

“Oh my dear, do not question the forces of nature. You should want to stay on your branch as long as possible”

“But my family is on the ground. Why would I want to stay away from them? This isn’t making any sense. Why can’t you just explain it to me” Gregory now filled with agitation because he was only having more questions that he started with.

“ I cannot do that my son. You must wait your time. I cannot tell you anymore”
The tree had not answered any of the questions Gregory had; rather he left him wanting to know more. His family was on the ground along with his friends and all the leaves of the surrounding trees. He could not comprehend why the trunk told him he should want to be away from them. Why could not have the only thing he wanted, he wondered.
Gregory looked down once more at all the people that use to fill the spaces around him. It was then that he noticed Ernest resting at the tip top of the pile.

“Ernest!” he shouted, ecstatic. “Ernest thank god I can see you from here. How long have you been down there?” Gregory waited but was given no response. He repeated himself, this time a little louder. Ernest still did not reply to him. Gregory sat in a stale silence as he slumped back in his branch. He came to the assumption that Ernest was mad at him. He could not stop beating himself up over the fact that nothing was going right. The world seemed to be slapping him in the face, as all he wanted was to be with those on the ground but for some reason he simply can’t be.

The field, that just days before, gleamed with color and excitement, now was the epicenter of all things forgotten. At the end of each tree branch, stretched minuscule twigs as if pleading to the grey sky above, to take them before the worst of all events arrived. The grass in the yards withered in to desert sands, crisp to the touched and moved with ones feet as they passed through it. The frigid winds had no end; at times they would take hold of a few leaves and pitch them through the air. Sending them into a cyclone of confusion as twisted this way and that.

These were the images that consumed Gregory’s attention for the next passing days. He spoke not a word and moved but a few centimeters, only when the wind would make him. Otherwise he sat, and he sat silently watching the world become destroyed in the chaos around him. He tried not to free himself as he had come to realization that he must wait for his time to leave the branch. As he was perched upon his branch an immense gust of wind blew and the next thing Gregory knew, he was detached. He was falling from his tree at last. He became suffused in joy and relief that he would soon be with his friends and family yet again.

As the breeze carried him down he exhibited signs of severe cold. He dismissed this as normal and continued downward. Moments later he too lay on the ground. Chance put him side by side with Ernest.

“Ernest!” once again Gregory got no reply from his best friend. “Ernest look I’m down here too now!” still no answer. “Look, if you’re mad at me, I’m sorry. Come on we are both down here. We are together again!” however, Gregory still was left with nothing. The pile of leaves shifted and he and his best friend were now touching ever so slightly. Gregory became appalled by how cold his friend was to the touch. He then realized that everyone around him shared that same cold feeling. He hadn’t taken notice until now but as the seconds past he too grew more and more cold. The temperature inside Gregory dropped and dropped until it became that of the leaves around him. “I want…I want m…my bra…nch” were the last words uttered by Gregory.

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