They called her strange, dangerous, and superstitious. She called herself strange, happy and understanding. She lived in a town of like minded, small minded people where everything was just a bit colder than it was in surrounding villages. The brown leaves twirled in the breeze as if they had somewhere to be, and to many this would seem special, but it was the same every morning. In the fall the leaves were rusty; old. Some enjoyed pretending they were orange but truly, they were brown and they were rotting. In the winter they were dead, and the leaves that spun in the wind were exchanged for snowflakes that tiptoed through the frigid air. Spring brought some hope as buds were born from longing tree branches, and finally summer came, and the leaves, green as the emerald city, were finally alive. This was her outlook, that one is only alive for a portion of a lifetime. For her the trees put a story into something physical. Yes she knew that many people reached some sort of life expectancy, but she also knew that everyone had a prime, their golden years, the summer of their lifetime. No one knew how she thought, but they had all decided that the summer of her life was long gone.
She had attended Clearwater High School in the town of Mansfield Massachusetts. Everything was as it should be; until it was not. There was no particular reason for the disturbance that had come about, but people had started talking. She didn’t continue with her friends onto university; she didn’t live at home with her parents anymore; and she certainly didn’t care what anyone thought of her. She had developed her own pond of thoughts, they swam through her mind, but never left her mouth. The townspeople had taken this as the end of her life’s summer, and her descent into fall. Her old friends had decided that she wasn’t normal, and that she was by no means to be accepted. At first it made her feel like she was at a dead end, or even worse– a cliff’s edge. She felt consumed by the knowledge of what people talked about, so, she left. Within the next year she was moved into the last house on the end of a street that led right out of town, and she had somehow stepped past the cliff’s edge without falling. People wondered why an entire year, but she decided to keep that to herself.
When fall came she picked a rotting leaf, and pretended it was orange. When winter came she searched for a dead leaf before the first snowfall. When spring came she picked a pale and miniscule leaf off a bent branch. And when summer came, she picked a lush forest leaf, it was new, and it was old, and it was everything that her year was. She kept the four leaves in a small ornate golden box beside her bed in her new home. Some would call them her good luck charm, but she saw them as 365 days. And as leaves do, when they get picked from trees, they died one by one. The summer leaf was the last to go, and when it did she was settled into her home, she felt strange and content. The four leaves rested in the golden box for many years, unopened, just as her memories of that solemn year stayed untouched in a corner of her mind. She had her own ideas, and just because they were opposing to the ideas of the people she used to know, did not mean they were wrong. They weren’t wrong, nor were they right, but they were her. And at that thought, she started the stroll into her lifetimes summer months with a carefree skip, and a wandering mind.