Leaves

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story about autumn, childhood bonds and the importance of unimportant things.

Be aware, main characters are two kids of 11 and 10, so may not be the kind of Romance you're looking for, but wasn't sure on what Genre to put it. Hope you didn't feel mislead.

Life is, in all likelyhood, the most overexended teacher there is. That's why most of the time, all she can do is give the lesson, and cross her fingers in hopes that we were listening... 

 

James was eleven and Kate was ten. Well, truth be told, then and there they were Jim and Katie. James was James for his mother mostly, and when used with his middle name would certainly mean trouble. Kate, well, for her the trouble was when her father would use "You", usually too drunk to remember or care for her name.  

 

It was just the two of them on their secret spot. Mind you, there was nothing really special about the place, and because of that, nobody would give it or them a second look. And there, lying on the grass looking at the sky engraved with silver torn clouds she said:

 

- Which leaf do you think will be the last to fall this year?.

 

Now, Jim knew things. He knew how to catch the big frogs, how to ride a bike standing on one side and the best places to hide the world away from them for a whole day...He also knew he liked her, and didn't know why; but he was at an age when you need to know the "why" of everything but that. I wonder, when do we turn that around?.

 

But he didn't know which leaf would fall last... He tried though, he looked with the strength of the youth, measuring the intensity of the fire on each one trying to figure out which one would flame out last. But he couldn't be sure, he just, didn't know...

 

Silence went on for what seemed a lifetime, and he was sure he had disappointed her. She counted on him to know things, he had to know!... At the end of the day, when she turned and waved goodbye once again, the resolve took hold of him. He would know, he would wait as long as it was needed, he would find that last leaf and he would give it to her. Yes, he would do that and she would know she could count on him.

 

Next day she found him under the same tree, it was their secret spot so they sat there for a while, they talked, they laughed and at the end of it all, he walked her home. That was the case for the next three days. Of course Jim wouldn't tell her what he was up to, it had to be a surprise, so when she suggested to go catch some frogs, check the dark tunnel or go feed the squirrels, he always had to come up with an excuse why he would remain there.

 

On the forth day, the leaves were starting to dwindle and he had to redouble his efforts. He couldn't walk her home anymore as the wind was blowing hard and threatening to leave the tree bare while he was away.

 

Every morning he would run to the tree as soon as possible legs fueled by the fear that the last leaf dared to fall while he wasn't looking. Last few ones proved to be surprisingly resillient. Katie was sad, he could feel it. She was wondering why he wouldn't walk her home, why he would insist on staying there all day... She asked many times, but he had to be strong, the surprise would be so great!. She didn't come yesterday, and apparently wouldn't today either. While a bit worried part of him was glad because that would save him for making up more excuses, and not being here when the moment comes would make the gift even more impressive.

 

When it finally let go was in the middle of the day, ungraciously. No sky burning at sunset, no breeze keeping it spinning on the air playfully... Yellow on his hands, with a red core like a bleeding heart, it seemed somehow underwhelming... But it was not, it meant trust, it meant patience and sacrifice... it ment her...

 

Jim knew better than to knock on her door. Katie's father was a scary man, and he smelled like the bottles they used to send castaway messages on the river. They had a code, a thin branch he would tap against her window on a certain beat that would always make her appear on to the window sill with a smile. But she didn't. He tried again, she might be on the bathroom, or helping her mom... After an hour, he gave up. His initial thrill somewhat quenched, he made for his place. Would come again later, when the day was ending, before dinner... She would probably sleep with the leaf by her bed, smiling.

 

Again, the tapping didn't bring her smile out. He risked a look around a house that seemed more dead than dormit. No lights, no sounds... Defeated, confused and worried, went back home and sat at a table filled with food he didn't eat. Mom didn't like that, but his head was too full to get one single bite in.

 

Days went by and she never came to the window. The leaf laid forgotten inside a book, it dried and crumbled into many pieces, and not one of them kept the importance that once held. Jim never saw Katie again, never knew what happened to her either. 

 

Katie's mom, after one too many beatings got the one last grain of bravery that she had been saving for years, and with little more than what they had on them, fled the home while he was away. When he came back, went on a rampage and driving mad got his truck and himself off the road and into a lake. Drinking finally killed him, although ironically was water that did the trick.

 

As for Katie, she left nothing behind. Her friend Jim had been her whole world beyond the darkness of her home. She liked him so much!. She didn't know why but everything had changed so fast and he seemed to have grown a dislike for her. Without a warning, everything they used to shared started to fall apart, and without a chance to ask him why, the feeling that remained was that his affection had withered and blown away, like the autumn leaves off a tree...


Submitted: May 13, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Haddy. All rights reserved.

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