The Ballad of the Last Leaf

June 20, 2011
A sun rose; lighting up the world the way nothing else ever could. The darkness was finally gone, the darkness left when every other light had gone out. Liquid fire rained down, burning a planet that was already burnt beyond recognition. It was a mass of earthly scar tissue and blood made of acid rain.


The sunlight touched a tree; an ordinary tree that stood sadly among the windswept flat lands. The last survivor of the all-consuming nightmare. Like all things must, it died. It died with the release of a single, crinkled leaf that had once been the only green thing on the face of a dark, deserted planet.


The wind scooped the leaf up like a gentle hand, cradling it. The dead thing flew. It flew past the ruins of an ancient ice-cream parlor, its tattered green and red banner danced for a single moment in the wind. The sign that had turned unreadable with impossible age formed a decrepit stepping stone on the crumbled sidewalk. The wind blew over weed corpses littering a lawn, where footsteps of children had once existed in abundance. A tree stump, nothing more than an ancient husk had once been a tall tree, whose boughs held the laughing youths in the sky, offered shade and play.


The leaf was carried to the stone ruins of a campus, once proud classrooms now decaying castles like the ones the old students had viewed anxiously on the news. The great old relics were turning to dust. Some chemical in the air, the scientists had said. A terrifying pollution that made everything age. Decay. Die. Finally, disintegrate. The end of world, cried the cynics. Earth would die with a whisper, as it became microscopic dust, particles of atoms, wandering endlessly through space like the dead leaf wandered now. The cynics were right; it had been the end of the world.


The leaf passed above a body, a few bits of dead skin still clinging to the skeleton, as there were no peckish scavengers left to tear them off. He'd been a history professor at the school; science was definitely not his field. He'd been talking worriedly to his wife just before the end came. He thought that they would always find a way to keep going, through disaster, even through the end of everything.


The last leaf landed in his rib cage where his heart had once been. It was like a house pet snuggling up to its owner for warmth and comfort. As if it didn't want to be alone when the everything became nothing, and their world ceased to exist. Together, they turned to dust and became one with the world, as the particles of everything that had ever been, now turned to nothing, flew into the sun. They left an empty place in the universe where a world of six billion human souls and oh so much life, once had been.





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