I always loved
it, the first leaf of autumn.
The first to
touch the lawn, I would always keep. When my dad was alive, he
would say that every leaf was someone's summer memory that had
faded away and fell onto the dry grass.
But Dad wasn't
here anymore, and he was also a memory of mine that had faded.
All I can truly remember is his red, purple and green Fremantle
I toss the same
scarf over my shoulder as a breeze whistles over the pavement. In
the chilly morning, the only noise is my slow puffs of
whirring gears of their bike.
Tracy does her
trademark skid, leaves crackling beneath the worn tyres.
I looked at her.
"I'm always up early."
There's Kate for you."
I smile and run
inside to get my bike. A few minutes later, we are chatting like
Tracy and I
are old friends.
She's like my
Siamese twin, and she even claims that her first word was "Kate!"
I told her that it must have been "Nail Polish!"
Today her nails
are red, orange and yellow.
"To match the
leaves." She explained.
We pull in to
the swamp, and leave our bikes out the front. Even though the
swamp is usually a stunning green, even the lush leaves that
brushed against my face were slowly turning a golden
The swamp was
overgrown because only one person lived in it; the hermit.
He dwelled in a
cobwebbed shack with a rusty tin roof, and no windows. Some kids
say that he's a wizard. Some say he's a million years old. And
some say there is no old man living in the swamp.
But I've seen
and wears a sack, but it's the eye…the eye that scares me. It's a
glass eye and it's so grey and cold that it's almost as though
you can see deep, deep into his empty soul.
here…" Tracy called.
cautiously towards the pond where Tracy was.
I looked at it.
"It's a lock. Here, you have it." I passed it to Tracy.
shriveled up. "Eeew! It's rusty." She tossed it behind her
shoulder. "Rubbish." She muttered.
As I turned
around, an almighty crash shook through the shrubbery.
We turned around
to see the hermit's tin shack destroyed.
"Tracy! You knocked down the shack!"
"So what?" Tracy
said, doubtfully. "It's just a shack."
We turned to
spot the old hermit, dressed in a sack. He took an aggressive
stance, fists balled. And the glass eye, it glared at me, sending
shivers down my spine.
whispered, moving back to the road, but Tracy stood frozen in
fear. The hermit hobbled furiously towards us.
"It's my house!
My House! You vandals! I'll kill you!" he roared hoarsely, as
Tracy found her footing and tumbled after me.
"I will have
your blood! Don't run!" the old man screeched as we ran.
We raced blindly
forward. I don't know how many times I fell, or how many times
Tracy fell. She's not as fast as me, and when the road was in
sight, Tracy tumbled over her knees.
sobbed. "I can't g-get up…Kate!"
one decorated hand out towards me, as the hermit closed
My world was
I tried to find
an answer; "When I fell over, dad said…"
"I don't care
about your stupid dad!" Tracy screamed.
At least I
thought it did.
You see so many
things when you're hurt. I could see Tracy's face fall as she
realized that she had made a fatal mistake. I could see the cold
look in the hermit's eye- a mixture of "Thankyou." and "Leave
before I kill you." but mostly "I'm disgusted."
And that's when
As I rode my
bike back up the hill, I saw Tracy's bike. It would be there for
a long time.
And every window
I passed seemed to be full of accusing eyes.
And then I saw
it. The first leaf. It had Tracy's footprint on it.
But I suppose
dad was right. She's just a summer memory now…The End?