It is an early October morning, and peaceful as the city is, Central Park is abuzz. Two squirrels fight over an acorn, pigeons hobble around looking for food, and children giggle going up and down the slide. Nothing is still and nothing is quiet. Quercus rubra – the Northern Red Oak Tree – lines the Park’s trails. For two months of the year, its ruby leaves ornament its branches, painting the horizon with deep red hues. The tree branches are waving in tune with the cool fall breeze, as autumn paints the leaves with deep reds, dark oranges, soft browns, and bright yellows. Every leaf is unique as it tumbles to the ground, unable to resist the wind’s aggression.
Suddenly, one of the leaves flutters to the ground. This leaf appears to be a lobed one. She is stunning: a mixture of all sorts of splashes of autumnal colors. The cool wind pushes the leaf delicately as she moves closer to the stony gravel.
All is fine until a little white and black dog approaches the leaf and begins to sniff her. The leaf lies still next to her predator in a desperate attempt to hide. Unable to mask herself, she is exposed; and the dog sticks out its long pink tongue and reaches for the leaf. This little dog is now throwing flecks of spit, drooling all over the leaf, with its menacing teeth clenching with taste. Just a few seconds later, the leaf is back on the floor. Guess she didn’t have a very seasonal flavor after all.
The wind whisks the leaf away and she grows smaller and smaller as she is carried further away from me. Finally, the wind puts her down. Some time later, she flips onto her back, only to reveal a family of five ants who have been feeding on her who had tried to kidnap the little leaf. The ants scurry away as a little boy runs past the leaf, but she is stuck – floating in a puddle. Right when she is in need of the wind’s help the most, he isn’t there.
A heavy rubber sole steps in the puddle, right on top of the little leaf. The sole of a bright yellow rain boot, worn by a child of about the age of eight, squishes the leaf’s every vein. The little boy begins to jump continuously in the puddle. As water splashes all over the walkway, the leaf is flung over to a dry area next to the grass.
She finally has some time to rest after, all in all, a horrible day. It seems as though nothing else can go wrong.
The wind gives her one more push, and abruptly, she is swept up into the abyss of a janitor’s pail. She resists with all that she has, trying to hold on to the ground. Her valiant efforts prove to be futile. This is her time. She will no longer exist as part of Central Park, and the wind or children or dogs will no longer torment her. Now, she will forever be in darkness.