Fast Forward the Circle

A single leaf floats by on the breeze, green, young, and pure. I watch it fly by, stopping for a moment and resting on a tree trunk. The full moon, shining high in the sky, casts a ghostly light on the forest floor and, along with the trees, creates eerie shadows that sway in time to the song of the wind. There’s not a sound to be heard but that song: a mysterious, haunting tune that drove the nocturnal creatures to stay in their beds tonight. Not a creature stirs, not a star shines through the clouds. But the full moon shines brightly through without fail. I rise and begin walking again, enjoying the stillness of the night, soaking up the rays of the moon.


As I make my way deeper into the forest, the trees thicken, and the patches of moonlight become few and far between. The wind has picked up slightly, and another leaf blows past my head. This one is yellow around the edges; its surface slightly wrinkled. I don’t stop to watch it disappear into the darkness. My feet trudge along, a little slower than before, and a quick glance skyward through a rare break in the trees shows that the clouds are thickening in the sky, but the moon remains uncovered. Oddly, it’s a three quarter moon instead of a full one.


A few more minutes walking leaves me tired and out of breath. My limbs feel heavier than normal, and the wind that blows even more strongly against me does nothing to improve the situation. It’s no longer a song but a howl of rage. Leaves flutter past me, and a quick glance at one of them shows that it’s yellow all the way through, no longer pretty and green, but weak and wrinkled. Almost no moonlight touches the forest floor here, and when I do get a chance to look up at the sky, I see only a half moon twinkling its light at me. As I shuffle along, I hear an almost quiet roll of thunder.


Suddenly I break through into a small clearing in the forest, where no trees block my view of the sky. I’m so tired, I fall against a tree for some support and gasp when I behold my skin. It’s yellowish and wrinkled, covered with moles. The wind has increased in intensity to a shrieking gale, and I feel like a thin sheet of paper, like I’m about to be blown away with the dozens of leaves that are ripped from their trees in the face of the howling wind. They’re crinkled and brown. Crunchy. And dead. Though the clearing is open to the sky, no moonlight shines down to the ground. The thunder rumbles louder now, and the clouds are roiling ominously in the sky, still empty of stars.


The moon is new, but I am old. My legs tremble violently and I sink to the ground. The brown leaves crunch below my body as I land on the forest floor, too weak to support myself. My face is pressed into the dirt, and I smell a rotting odor rising up from below the surface. My breathing sounds raspy, and even laying on the ground I can feel the energy seeping from my bones. The darkness is heavy on my tired eyelids.


As my eyes close and my muscles relax, a single beam of light illuminates a solitary leaf falling straight to the ground. The wind is silent, as silent as my heart that has stopped beating. One last leaf, and I know when it touches the ground, my life will vanish.


The leaf is beautiful: green, young, and pure.





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