Falling Like Leaves

“I need to see if it’s really him. I don’t think I’ll believe it otherwise”. Mom said.

“Do you think he faked it?” I asked.

“I don’t know anything anymore. I just need to see him.”

“I don’t know if I want to see.” I said quietly.

“You shouldn’t.”

Our car went around a bend in the road that led to nothing new; there were more trees of the same oranges and greens and yellows. Mom was quiet and her eyes went over the colors but didn’t hold too long; there were other things to look at, Virginia Falltime was beautiful. My eyes couldn’t see the colors she saw, but I felt the beauty in the way she looked and described it.

“Can you see the orange Jackie? Do you see the reds and the yellows?” she asked.

“Not completely. But I can see it’s different than before.”

The leaves had fallen too. I looked at them and thought that it made sense, cause many things had fallen; but it wasn’t true because people don’t fall like leaves, they fall like dirt.

“He could be in Europe, with the other family”, she said.

“Do you think any of that is real?”

“I really don’t know. I don’t know who he is.”

The car slowed down to a stop sign. She let it rest there a little longer than it should. We were getting closer to the house.

“What does the house look like?” I asked.

“The cops said it was okay. They moved the drug stuff already.”

“Is there… like, blood or anything like that?”

She didn’t say anything. I imagined she shook or nodded her head, but I wasn’t looking. I was looking out the window at the forest we were passing. On the biggest trees it seemed like the leaves never stopped falling. In a month or so they’d all be bare. But until then, they’d just keep falling, until they were gone, all at once.

There were other words you could’ve said. You could’ve said I watched the colors of spring hold above the ground before they became colored earth. But it wouldn’t have been right. It sounded pretty. So much does. But my eyes couldn’t see those colors. I wondered if for other people there was sadness in watching the pretty things become dirt. I never saw it that way.

We came around the bend that showed us the house on the hill surrounded on all sides by the lake. She drove slower up the gravel street than before. At the top the car came to a stop. We waited in our seats. She opened the door a crack and the air came in, it was cold like the windy side of a bonfire. She stepped out and I followed her as I was supposed to do. She said nothing.

We walked together up the gravel drive. Our footsteps broke the fallen leaves. Her hand found mine. The door opened. We stepped in.

In the bones of the house there were words of silence. It felt wrong to speak over it. There was a space between those sounds where I went and walked about: the yellow space, carpets stained by piss – the green place, plant crumbs forgotten by cops – the orange place, oak floor charred by fireplace cinders left to burn and burn – and the red place shared by the mattress and floor, where the blood drip fell from one to the other but never stayed in between.

I saw those colors. The yellows of early spring, the greens as spring became summer, the oranges as they grew old and wilted, and the reds as they burned out, suddenly, quietly, sinking into the Earth.

We left the house and I didn’t see any leaves fall on the way home. I suppose they’d all already fallen.


3 thoughts on “Falling Like Leaves

  1. Gripped me like a hand on my throat. I was particularly struck by the way you used the colors. Vivid colors, as you imagine them to be, to describe pretty, beautiful things and then tragic, terrible things. He fell, yes, he did. But not you. You did not, sweetheart. Love you, Miss Ellen


  2. So so powerful Jack. You moved the deepest parts of my heart and at the same time touched a stillness that sits there always. Thank you.


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