Falling Leaves

Johnny took me to a new place today. He told me it was his little slice of Heaven, as though God had taken a knife and gouged out that slice for him, and for me to enjoy. I believed him then, even though he was only twelve and I was only thirteen. I think it was something to do with his eyes, the way they shone through to me, just like the frosty blue sky above.

I told myself it was a sister-like affection, but even affection had no boundaries.

The first thing I noticed was the fallen leaves carpeting the ground, and as we stepped on them they crackled and crunched. Johnny told me it had been snowing, and I laughed, because there was no hint of white in the auburn setting.

“Leaves are like snowflakes,” he argued, “But they also look like golden cornflakes that we eat in the morning for breakfast everyday.”

Sometimes I forget how childish he is.

He ran to a bench that was carved from wood, and I sat next to him, watching the green field beyond the leaf-strewn ground, the sagging wire fence that cordoned off our little slice of Heaven. He spoke in the shadows raised by the setting sun, but his voice remained clear.

“They called this bench the lovers’ bench, because many couples came and made love under the autumn glow. It is said four-leaf clovers fall from these trees if their love would remain undiminished.”

“Do people get married here?” I asked.

“Maybe,” Johnny replied, but his face hardened.

I wish I hadn’t spoken.

When it was time to leave, he turned back to the scene, and said to me, “Don’t forget to come back.”

I didn’t confess then. Maybe I should have.

I came back today and walked on the leafy carpet. I now understood what Johnny said all those years ago, as I return an old woman to a place still eternally young. I knew now that each fallen leaf is each fallen memory that had gathered over the years. And even though Johnny had passed from this earth, I still believed fervently in the connection that brought us together.

For falling leaves return to their roots.

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