Autumn was probably the most beautiful time of the year. The leaves were bright oranges and reds. The creek down the road was lively with squirrels and other animals. I walk down the gravel road with just my bare-feet, not feeling any pain. I was used to it. That's what I get for being a country girl. I was on my way to meet my best friend, Travis, by the creek. The creek was dangerous at this time of the year. Autumn brought heavy rainfall in Carrier Mills. The water in the creek rose higher than six feet. But still, I believe autumn was the most beautiful season.
I was walking past the creek when I heard my name being called.
"Grace!" I heard a voice say. I turn to see my best friend sitting on the bench next to the flooding creek. Travis' brown hair went in all directions today. His green eyes sparkled in the autumn sunlight. But I could see sadness and worry on his face. Travis and I grew up together. It wasn't hard to tell when he was upset.
"Hey, Travis. What's going on? You look...worried," I say to him, approaching the wooden bench. I take a seat next to him. He gives me a slight smile.
"I am sort of worried. I...I wanted to tell you something, Grace," he says. The worry on his face began portraying on his face.
"Trav, you know you can tell me anything," I say, starting to get worried myself. Travis was like my older brother. If he was in danger, I don't know what I would do.
"Okay..well, Grace. I know that we've known each other since we were little. But, I love you, Grace. I always have. In one month, I go into the navy. I enlisted last Spring. I want to know if you will wait for me?" he says to me. My heart did a little squeaze. I didn't like Travis like this. And yet, he was in love with me. What will I tell him?
"Trav..I. I love you. I do. I just think that we love each other in different ways. And, yes. I will wait for you. I will still be your best friend. But..we couldn't be together. I'm sorry." With that, I get up from our bench and begin to walk back to my house. I didn't dare look back at his face.
Months passed. Travis went into the Navy, and my mind never stopped thinking about him. The day that I got home from the creek, I began to think: Maybe I DID feel the same way about him. All of my thoughts circulated. I did love Travis. He's been the guy who was always there for me. He knew everything about me, and I knew everything about him. And soon enough, here I was. Waiting for him. Just like he asked me to do.
Soon, Christmas came around, and Trav's mom infromed me that he would be home for Christmas. So, my mother and I prepared for a feast with Trav's mother. His father died last Winter in a car accident. My father was in the same car. Both died instantly. Every year at Christmas time our families got together. This year, I would surprise Trav when he gets home.
Finally, Christmas day is here. We set up the ham, and every other food. We wait and we wait in anticipation on the couch. Not much conversation is made until there is a knock at the door. Trav's mom hops off the couch to answer it. I expect cries of joy and to hear Trav's voice. But I only hear:
"I'm sorry for your loss." And the door to slam shut. I hear Trav's mom burst into tears. She fell to her knees by the front door.
"He's- He's gone!" she mutters out inbetween the tears. At that moment, my heart breaks. I, too, nearly fall to my knees. Instead, I just stand there. My expression was blank. I had gone into automatic mode. My mind could hardly process it. Travis...wasn't...coming...home. My best friend wasn't going to stay up late with me on the phone anymore. He wasn't going to hug me whenever a jerk broke my heart. I repeated it in my head: He wasn't coming back. He wasn't coming back. He wasn't coming back. Without a word, I slip my boots onto my feet and began running to the creek. My mind still didn't exactly process what I was doing. All I knew is that I needed to go back to the bench.
Finally I reach it, and I sit there. I could have waited. I could have realised sooner. I could have made him stay.
Finally, I let myself go. I cry and I cry. My heart breaks and breaks. I never knew heart ache could actually be in a physical level. Travis was a great guy. Why did he have to go? Autumn used to be a beautiful, and pure time. It was a great season. It was just gorgeous. Now it was a time for regret. Autumn would be forever depressing for me. Autumn was now a blank whole in my heart. A blank whole where Travis belonged. Suddenly, a flashback flooded my mind.
Travis handed me my present. His scarf was wrapped around my neck. I had gotten cold, so he automatically gave it to me. I unwrappped the present that was wrapped in reindeer wrapping paper. I put the bow off to the side. Inside, there was a slender rectangular box. I open the lid to the box.
Inside held a silver charm braclet. On it had only one charm so far. A capital T.
"So you never forget me," he had said.
"I could never forget you, Trav," I had said back. "Now, go ahead. Unwrap mine!" I said, handing him over his gift. His gift was larger. And he would deffinetly love it. I watch him as he slowly unwraps the large box. He pulls out his pocket knife and slices the box open. Inside was a brand new fishing pole. He was in desperate need of a new one. He pulled me into a hug.
"Thank you, Grace. It's awesome. I love it," he whispered.
"Your present was just as good," I say back.
That was probably the best of many Christmas's we shared together. It was the Christmas after our father's had died. It brought us joy in a time of darkness.
Now, here I sit. Two years later, back to that dark place. Worse. I regret autumn. Autumn is the worse thing that has ever happened to me. I couldn't ever live without Travis. I needed to end the pain. It was too much to bare. I could never get over the loss of Travis. Travis was mine. I'm ending this, I thought to myself. I slowly get off of the bench. I walk the short distance to the iced- over creek. I knew from past experience that my body weight would crack the ice easily. Last Winter, I fell in and Trav had come to my rescue. I prepare to jump when I hear a voice come from my side.
"Stop. Don't do this, Gracey!" Travis says. I look to my side. I run into Trav's arms without thinking. How was this even possible? I didn't even care if he was a ghost. As long as I got to hold him one last time
"But you're dead! The letter said you died in service!" I yelled.
"There was a mistake, Grace! I'm here! I'm here!"
"I love you," I say to him . I feel him sigh.
"I've waited all of my life to hear you say that," he says to me. He embraces me into a kiss. When we finally pull away, my heart is full again. Travis was mine. He was alive. He was here. Trav grabs a hold of my hand and we begin walking back to his house to let everyone know Travis was okay.
When next autumn came around, Travis purposed to me on our bench. I know what you're thinking. No, I did not reject him and then months later say yes. I said yes the first time. And we spent a year planning our wedding. Finally, when the leaves turned red and orange again, we were married on a boat in the middle of the creek. Finally, as all was right, I became Mrs. Grace Harlom.
The day we were married, I realised that autumn was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Even though Trav and I had to go through a few hard times through autumns, it all resulted in us being ultimatley happy together. It seems like autumn was our lucky time. Nothing could go wrong. Until Travis got drafted in the autmn of 2019. This time, he really did pass away. He left me alone with our two kids, Lacey and Nick. I greived, but it wasn't suicide- worthy. Not this time.
And yet, I still believe that autumn was the most beautuiful thing that has happened in my life.