The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
It looked like autumn but it wasn’t. The leaves were strewn everywhere in hues of red, brown and orange, and felt crunchy under her sandals. It looked like autumn, but it was summer. It was always summer here.
She wiped the perspiration from her face with her bare hands, which also felt damp and futile. She remembered the chilly autumn breeze which would give her pert young cheeks a hint of fuzzy pink and would sweep through her (non-frizzy-in-temperate-weather) hair, whispering the memories of sweet-nothings he had told her the night before.
But that’s exactly what they were, weren’t they? Nothings; no matter how sweet. And now, back in the place where angry red ants were nibbling on her ankles and mosquitoes fed on her B+ blood, there was nothing except deceptively-autumn leaves to trample upon as she tried to relive that season of beauty in her life.
He was not a looker, but he had beautiful hands that played the piano, that took her hands and stroked each finger as if they were precious porcelain. And perhaps to him they were, for he would say, “These will be best memories of our lives because everything we have is ephemeral.”
When he had first said that, she’d thought that “ephemeral” meant “eternal” because the two words sounded similar. But then she checked the dictionary long after they had parted and finally said a silent “oh” in her heart.
And now, as she tried to recall everything else that he had said to her- and what he had not – a little boy who could not have been more than five shoved her aside as he tried to retrieve a huge red leaf that she was stepping on.
“That’s mine,” the boy said smugly as he popped the leaf into a plastic bag looped around his wrist.
“Boy, you just pushed me without even saying ‘excuse me’! I want you to say sorry now!”
(Her two whiny nephews were terrified of her. “Why is Auntie May so fierce? Is it because she cannot find a boyfriend?” they would ask.)
The boy, however, remained nonplussed and stuck his tongue out. “No! The leaves belong to everyone in the park. You’re just too slow in getting any for yourself.”
She grabbed a fistful of leaves from the ground and stuffed them into her tote bag. She walked home and dried them with kitchen towels. After that, she pressed them within her thick Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary. More specifically, she slotted them in between pages 408 and 409, where the word “eternal” is defined as “without beginning or end; lasting or existing forever.”
Autumn did not exist in her part of the world now, but with climate change, who knew what could happen? With the hopeful optimism of a sweaty summer, she would wait for autumn to arrive.