I walk down the darkened street. It’s late, sometime in the evening. By now most people are inside, around a fire.
The air becomes misty as I sigh, my breath, a thin layer of fog. I rub my gloved hands gently. I can feel the blood circulating in my fingers, the tingling sensation remaining in my palms.
Then a shaft of moonlight slices through the air like a dagger. The milky glow falls on a bench. Innocent at first, but when I glance at it, I’m reminded of cherry blossoms, a cold hospital ward, and the smell of Autumn as I stepped on her leaves.
At times, I remember Autumn, the breeze blowing her hair, and the sweet scent of cinnamon which hung in her wake. But the memory of happiness can only come with pain. With the breeze, came a tornado, and with the smell of cinnamon, came the sharp stench of a hospital. I sit cautiously on the bench, remembering my lost Autumn.
I grew up in the warmth of Autumn, her smile and brown curls etched into my earliest memories. She was loved -but who does not love beauty? I may have loved her, once. Maybe that’s why her smile haunts me. And I remember the last day she spent with me, for Autumn always leaves to make space for the winter.
It was the winter that took her.
Some would say she was weak – but she was a fighter. When the sickness returned, she did not break. Instead her eyes glowed as she said “Let’s not waste time”, and she took me for a walk in the warm air outside.
The park where our paths often crossed was now the place were Autumn would walk one more time. The ground was scattered with leaves, brown and withering, which had fallen off the now bare trees some time ago. I stepped on them angrily, as we sat down on the bench which holds my memories.
“Winter is almost upon us,” said Autumn quietly. “My cherry blossoms are going to die soon. You will water them for me, won’t you, when I … leave?”
I brushed something off my check quickly.
“Why are you crying?” Autumn asked.
She waited patiently until I said, “You’re leaving us! How do you expect I feel?!?”
Autumn sighed and looked up at the sky. “I’ll never leave. Not really. Not if you remember me when you sit here. Then you’ll know I’m with you.”
I looked at her and she smiled weakly, the sunlight reflected in her strong eyes.
And time, as time does, passed by as if it had never existed. The seasons changed – the bleak days of winter began to set in, and with it came Autumn’s departure. Her breath slipped away quietly after weeks, resigning her to the unknown.
I don’t think Autumn really left, because when her season comes, I can almost hear her, quietly laughing at me as I struggle through piles of dead leaves. I believe those we love never really leave us.
I stand up, and look at the bench once more. This time, when I see the memories of a girl, it doesn't hurt anymore. I remember my promises to Autumn, and I reach into my coat pocket and pull something out. I lay it on the bench and smile at the moon, its glow now resting, on a pink cherry blossom.