And the Leaves

November 22, 2011
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Alexandria opened her mail box and found naught but a leaf, red and freshly felled. She slammed the box closed, furious. She was expecting a letter, and had been for days. She decided to let the red leaf rot in the mail box, since it was useless. Alexandria loathed fall, and she shoved her hands into her skirt pockets, hunching her shoulders as she walked back to her ample porch and home.
***
“Hey Alexandria, how was your weekend?” James’ voice called to her from across the room.
She turned and looked at her best friend, tall and sweet with an affinity for fall and dead leaves. It was the only thing about James that Alexandria didn’t like, because aside from their opinions on fall leaves they were the same person, or nearly.
It was common knowledge to the rest of the school that Alexandria was in love with James, and James in love with her, but that neither would ever take the first trembling step towards actualizing that love, and neither one would ever acknowledge the other’s feelings--it was a classic plot, and everyone knew their parts perfectly.
“It was fine, I spent most of it at home being quiet.” Alexandria replied to James as he neared.
“Jesus, you shoulda called me or something, we coulda chilled. I was bored too. I raked the yard though...” He trailed off, grinning with self-satisfaction and that just made Alexandria want to punch something.
“I hate fall.”
“Oh yeah, that makes things well, uh, cool. Okay, yeah, I’m going to go to my next class now.” He turned and walked away, so full of his own security in knowing that he was good.
Alexandria stared at him as he walked away and for some reason, couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to tell her something important.
***
In her locker was another red leaf, the same kind. Maple, or maybe oak, Alexandria wasn’t sure. She didn’t care anyway, she simply swept the leaf out onto the floor and grabbed her book.
On every desk that she sat at every day, all seven of them, had each its own leaf. Alexandria wasn’t pleased. Whomever was trying to mess with her head like this was not being kind, and she grew more furious with every leaf. She felt both betrayed by the letter she was supposed to get, and angered by the leaves she never asked for.
***
Alexandria walked home from school that day, and breathed in air filled with dry leaf dust. She coughed at an intersection while waiting for a car to pass, but it slowed down.
“Hey Alexandria, shoulda let me know you needed a ride home!” James leaned over when he rolled down the window and unlocked the door. She pulled it open, stepping in. “Well I thought that you were acting weird this morning so I didn’t want to say anything.”
“You’re ridiculous.”
“Well you’re stupid.” Alexandria stuck her tongue out at him, but then saw on the dashboard a stack of red maple leaves. “You’ve got to be joking with me!”
“I love fall, what can I say?”
“No, I mean that those same type of leaves have been following me everywhere since yesterday in my mailbox...” She trailed off, struggling to put the pieces together.
“Alexandria, I really wanted to talk to you earlier, but you shut me down with your whole ‘I hate leaves’ thing that you do. I just wanted to say that I raked my lawn this weekend and thought that you needed a mystery in your life. Actually that was just my way of saying you shouldn’t wait for that letter you keep evading.”
“What do you mean? I never talk about any letter, much less waiting for one.” Alexandria picked up a red leaf, twirling the stem in her fingers.
“That’s the point, you always evade talking about this letter you’ve been waiting for but I know you are waiting for it. Don’t lie to me about it now.” James turned to her, brow furrowed.
“Well it’s none of your business what I am or am not waiting for.”
“No, see, I think it is because I love--”
A juggernaut of power suddenly glided towards them sideways across an intersection, and slammed into James’ car, which buckled backward from the impact.
A blinding scream pierced through the air, and Alexandria realized it was her own. She heard the noises of metal on metal and she lost track of everything for a while.
***
When Alexandria opened her eyes, she saw clear blue sky stretched out above her, in the corner of her eye was a red maple tree. Wind blew and gusted leaves, red and freshly felled, onto her face and body. She felt weightless, but determined as flashes of that day came with the leaves that settled on her face.
She realized she had no hearing, everything was silent, even the leaves moving in the wind. Then the face of James sprang into her mental view. She did not know where he, nor she for that matter, was.
Alexandria propped herself up on her elbows, and saw things she could not quite comprehend. Red maple leaves covered everything, the intersection she was lying some yards from, the two cars, still smoking, and the body she knew once as James.





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