Faint gusts of brisk October air comb through her unruly hair, the chill shaking her feeble stature. Hazel eyes, weighed down by sadness, emerge from behind her wall of rich, chocolate hair, which wraps around her body like ivy encircling a delicate tree. Dressed in all black, she wanders slowly down the path, no purpose to her stride, no destination in mind. Above, crows croon their morning sorrows—Ca-caw, Ca-caw, Ca-caw. Blood red leaves, wrenched from their branches like a toy from a young child’s weak hand, swirl around frantically before hovering mid-air, resisting the undefeatable pull of gravity. They plummet to the ground. As she plods along the deserted path, the crackling of leaves entombed in late autumn frost echoes off the wall of trees. With each step, the aroma of freshly brewed hazelnut coffee grows stronger, presumably from the lone coffee stand at the entrance to the park. Breathing in a large mouthful, she can almost taste the heavenly, creamy liquid as it warms her body and jolts her awake with its overly caffeinated base. A hint of natural pine to complement it.
As the wind picks up, her feet begin to linger, the cold propelling itself through the thick cotton layers of her cardigan like the mast of a majestic ship sweeping through the fog. She retracts further into her cardigan, her own personal turtle shell, but to no avail. The chill remains. Her mind wanders back to all the times when she walked this path with him, the jollity with which they used to skip, the laughter that filled the empty silence, the trees that watched as they grew old together. Warmth floods through her veins, just like it did when he would grab her frozen hand. Each crevice, each fold, each wrinkle of his hand emitting heat. A special kind of heat. Not just warming her body, but also her heart; her heart which is now broken, a china doll shattered into a million unidentifiable shards. Before she can wipe it away, a single tear escapes from her drooping eyes, carving its path over the mountain of her cheek bone and into the canyon between her lips, the salty taste invading her taste buds, leaving her mouth parched and screaming for water. Through blurred vision, the red leaves seem to ridicule her, to taunt her, to mock her. Red like the feeling of love. Her heart swells at the memory of blood pulsing through her veins and rushing to her cheeks as she stood in front of him. His cheeks glowing red as his breath made tiny hearts in the air around him, their love was as strong as a world class wrestler, as strong as a sturdy bridge, as strong as an army of a hundred thousand men. But red was also the color that pervaded the air around her as he screamed with anger fueled hatred as loud as he possibly could, and the color that threatened their love as she smashed the ceramic vase against the plaster of the living room wall. Red was the barrier that separated them, but also the color of their hearts as they slowly, slowly began to beat again. Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba-dum.
Her tears gradually freeze upon hitting the frigid ground, creating a wake of spherical icicles. Though her taste buds froze in the cold long ago, she can still distinguish the bitter taste of a lost love, the burnt Sunday breakfast that was never ate, left on the stove and forgotten about. The lingering scent of his cologne now overpowers the aroma of coffee and pine and she growls in frustration as she pushes the memories away. Fists clenched so tightly they could shatter a brick wall, she plods on. Gone are all the happy times, all the laughter, all the anger. No longer do the crows sing their sorrows, for hers are much greater. Yet the red leaves remain. She howls at the sky, letting the rain splatter on her face and wash away the tears. Maybe they’ll wash away the color too, for red was not the color she saw when he left.