by Brandon L. Rucker
From the BLR Vault. An oldie (wow, fourteen years now), but has always been one of my favorites. I’ve taken a few passes at it over the years, tweaking this or that. It’s probably still not “perfect” but I think I may be done tinkering with it. I might’ve submitted it once to a lofty literary webzine or two at some point in the past five years. Still, it sits in the nursery as one of my favorite, if somewhat dour, children.
My wife and I are silent this morning as we walk our six year-old daughter to school. We don’t speak to one another much these days, idle chatter seems like a chore. Many sunsets ago we would gaze intently into each other’s eyes, now neither of us so much as steals a fleeting glance at the other. That infamous saying that there’s ‘no love lost’ does not apply to us; there’s a lot of love lost here. More anchor than glue now, our little girl trots merrily between us, relishing the rarity of a family outing with both Mommy and Daddy.
We stop at a crosswalk and I take a moment to bask in the scenery. It is the best and worst part of autumn. The fall air is brisk and chill, it smells undeniably like change with a tinge of the unknown. Bullying winds send chilly kisses to my face where the newly thickened beard gives way to exposed skin. The sun graces the leaves with glorious light, accenting the yellows, oranges, reds, and browns as they cling feebly to their vitality. The few that remain green are sparse and out of place.
“Mommy, Daddy, how come the leaves are so pretty at fall time?”
My wife says, “Baby, that’s just God’s way of showing us that dying things can still be pretty things.”
“But that doesn’t make sense,” Bright for her age, the irony is not lost on our only child.
The last car passes and we cross the street to the other side where the school sits just past the intersection.
Our little girl is right, of course. It doesn’t add up, at least not when using that simpler mindset. Soon these pretty things will get blown away in a passing gale, swept in the wake with other things once believed to be permanent. All that will remain is a skeleton of what once bore wonderful fruit.
Rather than further complicate it for her with a grownup’s perspective, I change the subject.
Copyright © 2000 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.