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Autumn was a crime. It was a time when the leaves that sheltered each tree would fall, leaving it vulnerable and exposed for the world to see. Stupid leaves, why did they have to fall?
It was first grade, and Lucy walked with me to school. The leaves fluttered to the ground one by one. We’d kick them as they met our toes; the scraping noises created an atrocious harmony.
“I heard the teacher’s nice.” Lucy’s lovable baby blue eyes locked on to mine. I was scared, and she could tell. She wrapped her hands around me as we entered the gates.
There were children everywhere, but none were as frightened as me. Lucy smiled, and we walked further.
As we walked towards the jungle gym, a group of girls the same age blocked our entrance.
“Hi, I’m Ashley. You wanna play on the swings?” She seemed to only notice me, as if Lucy was invisible.
In an instant, my fingers that were tangled around Lucy’s were separated and I ran against the wind as fast as I could, leaving Lucy behind. Autumn was a crime, and I never knew.
Eight years later, our foster parents decided that they didn’t want to keep us anymore; they could only afford to adopt one child but Lucy and I came in sets—a wish from our real mother right before she gave us up. We were too expensive to keep and were forced to relocate. That day, the day we moved, Lucy slept with me in our new bed. She sang me the songs mama used to sing to us, she held me in her miniature arms that barely fit around me, and she whispered, “You still have me.” The next morning, our social worker struck us with the news that a couple was interested in adopting us, except they could only take one of us until their house was fully built. Without asking Lucy what she wanted, I dove in to the car seat that was parked outside and didn’t move until the engine started. The car drove fast and all that was left of Lucy through the rear-view mirror was her silhouette. That summer, I left Lucy behind.
Three years later, our Highschool senior prom night was just around the corner. I promised myself everything would be faultless. All my friends had bought the most expensive, branded dresses with glittery, shiny shoes. Our foster parents were low on cash, and we had no choice but to visit the Bargain mall. I sniveled and pleaded not to go; I would not be seen in a place like that, ever. So, Lucy grabbed my hand and smiled.
“I promise I’ll find you the most perfect dress”, she whispered.
For the whole day, she searched every corner of every single dress rack, as if searching for a lost treasure. Finally, she smiled, holding the most beautiful dress I had ever imagined in her hands. While I boasted about how perfectly it fit me, she naively grabbed the first thing she saw out of a nearby rack and went to try it on. I saw the fabric slide on to her body and a blanket of jealousy covered me as her beauty lit up the room. She gazed in to the mirror amazed; almost startled by her beauty. Her twinkling eyes turned to me, “what do you think?” She smiled, biting on to her lip and shrugging her shoulders.
“Don’t like it at all. It hugs your hips.” I lied; I couldn’t’ stand the idea of her looking prettier than me.
In the end, Lucy couldn’t find a dress in time for prom and I was adorned with the most beautiful gown. I never said thank you, never appreciated her, and when I left that night, she stood outside, smiling with tears streaming down her face, watching me leave her behind.
One year had past, and I was already in college. On a Sunday, the dorm master handed me another letter.
“My dearest sister, Autumn” I read.
“Why have you not kept in touch? I write to you all the time.” I bit my lip and decided to stop reading. I crumpled up the letter and threw it in the trash. There were better things to do, better ways to use my time. It’s okay to leave Lucy behind.
Six years later, I decided to get married with the man I loved.
It was to be an unforgettable event, with the most expensive cake, a royal gown and the most impeccable ceremony.
I invited my boss, my colleagues and associates.
Every single seat was filled.
“We’ll book one more table.” My fiancée, Tyler suggested.
“No need.” I replied. “It’s too expensive, there’s no room for Lucy.”
And with that, I left Lucy behind; ignoring her, rejecting her calls and refusing to visit.
Autumn had arrived again, and the smell of crime seasoned the air.
I had just turned 65; a number that washed away the youth that lived so flamboyantly in me. After receiving an email from an old friend of mine, I decided to meet her in a nearby café. We sat down, sipping tea and talkinh for hours, catching up on both our lives. Finally she stopped, looking confused and pitied at the same time.
“I’m terribly sorry for what happened.” She whispered.
“Sorry?” My voice started cracked as I placed my tea cup back on the table.
“About Lucy… cancer is really a terrible thing. Poor Lucy, she knew it for years...never wanted pity from anybody.”
I couldn’t swallow, my throat grew dry, my heart felt like a rock and needles poked every side of my body.
Without saying anything, I rushed out of the café.
Screaming, crying, wanting to go back as autumn leaves fell around me.
Autumn was a crime, and I finally realized.
When I was scared, Lucy held me and promised it would be okay.
I left her at every chance I had.
When she looked beautiful, I lied to her while she spent her whole prom-night making sure I looked perfect.
For years, she went out of her way to be part of my life, sending me letters, calling me so often because she needed me—I threw away the letters, and deleted her calls. I left Lucy behind.
My sister died and I never knew.
Autumn was a crime. It was a time when the leaves that sheltered each tree would fall, leaving it vulnerable and exposed for the world to see, and I was its criminal.
For those of you, who still have your Lucys,
Hold her close and never leave her behind.