Orleanna

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The walk to school was an act

The walk to school was an act

of cruelty for her in every season but

especially autumn. Children pay penance

in peculiar ways and on some

innate level we understood this

was

hers.

The graveyard never bothered me

for death was a word, not a

sentence. But Orleanna dreaded

the crisp mornings before

school when we donned clinging

tights and

shrouded sweaters

and surveyed the crunching earth

below. She liked the leaves she said.

She was a far more delicate creature

than I, and even though I was

younger, I always took her hand and

strung the leaf specks out of her

hair when we silently entered the

burial ground. Our enchanted procession

was a complicated one, an intricate

maze, a web we weaved through

the rows of muted stones, the little

boxes on a hillside. We always

made sure not to step on anyone,

that would be unkind Orleanna

always said.

I only met her mother that one

time as I paid my respects through

blurry eyes and blurry breath,

her mother taking my hand and combing

the leaf speck out of a strand of my

hair.

A whispered “thank you”

I can’t recall if she said it

or I.





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