A Fallen Leaf

December 23, 2007
By Sarah Hindenach, Fairfield, CT

Creeping slowly along the path, my bleached white sneakers go CRUNCH! They crunch down upon the colorful leaves of autumn. The emptiness of the chilled air reminds me of the affectionate and welcoming place that it once was. This was when the movement of my toes would move in sync with his. “He’s not here!” I harshly assured myself, almost expecting a response from the immense sky above. The empty space is filled though, but only with the three colored leaves of fall. Peering below, the muck of the filthy ground seems to lure my shoulders into a hunching position as my face points forward in a fierce manner. My cringed mouth scowls at the wicked red leaves that freely drift along the woodsy path and enforce my feet into gliding along the overlapped tracks that are pounded into the soil. Those leaves, were once green, I ponder upon, while glancing up at the cotton blue sky. My body stops skidding as it pauses at the 60 foot high, thick, dented, Red Oak. Many oddly shaped raindrops plummet down from the white shadows above, smacking each of my two rosy cheeks. The entire surface of my face, twitches in the commotion of the light drizzle, impairing what was once a crystal clear vision. My pupils spread farther each second amongst the color of my eyes as time begins to swarm my thoughts; leaving me sprinting toward only several months ago.

Choking on the dry June air, my tongue could taste the pollen of the yellow daisies. My thoughts bedazzled themselves as they were inspired by the green leaves that remained still even in spite of the disturbing wind. The sky, pierced with a deep pink glow, buried its sun, its only companion, under the dark meadows of the hills, far, far, away. It was there, it was then. Sitting in my rickety, old, desk chair, I traced my tense index finger along the J, E, and the two overlapped S’s embedded into the warm, rough wood, knowing that I would never receive real furniture. Never, would my dimples expand, seeing the fresh, new, quality of new, untouched furniture that so many other children had. After my reckless parents divorced when I was only three months old, my mother began to flush my mind with the “speeches”. “You can’t want what others have because you’re not like others,” she would yell in the most clear, convincing, voice, building up my hatred like a volcano. My pale skin chilled with unfriendly goose bumps as the familiar voice began to call to me.

“I’m goin’ out crumb cake,” she intensely sneered. The temperature of my body seemed to decrease rapidly as I recognized the foolish nickname she would always call me. The magma within my mind persuaded the volcano into erupting as I wondered why she even kept me as her daughter if my worth translated to a few upswept crumbs on the floor.

“Where?” I questioned delicately yet boldly, already realizing that her answer would merely be a cape hovering over the truth.

“Is it any of your business?” she stated rather than asked. A moment of chirps from the outside crickets surrounded my empty house. With a diligent charm, my brother belted out, rescuing the silence bestowed above and below the winding staircase.

“Give her a break!” he shouted. And that was him, always there to break every one of my falls.

“I’m sorry, is this any of your business either?” she snarled with a full thick coating of sarcasm. “Yeah, didn’t think so.” Before I could even hush my tone, the porch door smacked the side of the house punishingly, swinging back and forth until the headlights of my mother’s car reached the main distant road. Both of our doors slammed, reopening the spaces within the vast hallway.

The static of my ancient radio suddenly muted as it unraveled the second unclear voice beckoning above the staircase. Startled, I notified myself that he was now downstairs.

“I’m going to take a night drive along the path.” He mentioned with an unusually gentle and unsure tone. “Care to join me?” he asked humorously.

“Not tonight Matt,” I responded. “I don’t feel so well.”I stated rather honestly. Perhaps it was a gut feeling or a gut choice.

“Well, OK!” he blabbered, quite merrily. “More for me!” Trying to decode his final statement, the porch door slammed against the house once more, except this time, the abuse of its whack seemed to end shortly.

Yet another hour past by as my eyes remained tacked to the blank white wall, as if hypnotized. Oblivious to the fact that I was the only living presence amongst the whole house, I lurked down the solid steps with only one side of my body in full motion. My thirst for a sweet, cool, beverage drove me towards the refrigerator as my bare feet slid uncontrollably along the white tile floor and stopped abruptly. My eyes collided into the open, cold, space, preying upon the pink lemonade that stood so high beside the beer case.

“Wait a minute.” I blurted right before I closed the fridge door. The beer case, torn open on its left side, held three empty spaces. Frantically trying to calm my nerves, I assured myself that it was just my barbaric mother.

RRIIING! My ice, cold, drink shattered into minuscule pieces of clear glass among the white tiled floor, as the telephone screamed for me to pick it up. All ten of my fingers spurt about, shocked and trembled, reaching for the telephone. CLICK! It snapped off the receiver as I hurriedly tugged it towards my ear.

“Hello?” I whispered, still surprised and confused from my little accident.

“Yes, hello.” A brisk male voice crept through the phone. “Is this the residence of a certain Matt Pemaspacty?”

“Why, yes it is.” I mimicked, trying to contain my chuckles from this proper figure.

“Well, hello,” he quickly responded. “I am Officer Linten Rootess and my team and I have discovered something that may be quite a shock to you and your family.”

The giggles in my head were silenced, along with every movement of my body. “Out with it,” I felt saying in the anticipation and rush of the conversation.

“Wh… why… what is it?” I stuttered, my heart racing faster than any single cheetah in a safari. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know how to inform you of this,” he blurted out, “but we have found your family member, Matt, out by the Red Oak tree, not too far behind your home.” A deep wave drowned my thinking as a question slowly emerged into the air- a question that was soon answered. “He seems to have crashed into the tree, pinned to the front seat of his car,” the officer nearly shouted as if he was touched by the event he witnessed.

“Well, is he alright?” I blared, expecting a swift answer.

“I’m afraid not,” he responded with a touch of guilt. “He is suffering from an extremely severe concussion and is now in a coma in the emergency room at Tugil Hospital."We have tried our best to do everything for the boy, and we rushed him over as soon as we found him.”

I gave no answer, no valid response, not even a tear of worry, for I knew that this was just another boy to them. This officer didn’t know me, and he sure as heck did not know Matt. Because if he knew my brother, then he would know that he is more than just some eighteen year old foolish boy who used bad judgment to his disadvantage. He wasn’t just some punk teenager, no. He was a full soul who rescued me from the water when I was in over my head. And for what; lying on some blue hospital bed with only a metal machine keeping him alive? Knowing that the cop presumed I was Matt’s mother, I cut off his final words, bawling with a guilty heart that was slowing its beats within my chest.

My eyes spun 360 degrees, pushing me forward to where I am now standing. My thoughts untangle from their heap and my questions are gradually disappearing, as I stand gazing before the tall oak. The same oak that has served me no respect or value, has lead the tracks of my brother’s entire life, to a tremendous and unforgiving halt. Now the sun has drifted to leaves. The falling leaves that have stripped the tree of its clothing, have left the branches swaying in the air without their armor. These are the leaves that have been blinded of their origin, sprayed with the random colors of the October mist. All of them lie awake on the frayed grass, yearning for someone to pick them up and reunite them with wood. All the leaves have fallen, except one. It is the one of the union that could have been. It has been torn of its fire, leaving it a pale, cruel, shade of tan. The leave that has been there for six warm months, is enveloped in a rustle of wind and is snapped off the arm of the oak, leaving it free falling towards the ground. A ray of light shines upon it as it glistens in its final joy at the level of my vision. It has taken me to so many places, driven me to my best and my worst. And now, it has let me fall along with it. My shadow appears in the landed leaf; my blood runs through its veins. I crush each vein, one by one.

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