Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Beginning of the Fall

Anna brought the telescope down from her eye, observing the tumbling autumn landscape outside through the thin glass veil of bedroom window instead. One hand grasped nervously for the sill at the bottom, while the other reached for the lock above and deliberated; she unlocked the window with her top hand, but couldn’t bring herself to lift it up. Anna recoiled in fear and fell amongst the junkyard of books that filled her bedroom: thesauruses, dictionaries, and collections of all the classics, like Shakespeare, Milton, Marlowe, Hawthorne, Dickens. A pile of pages like feathers, torn from volumes of Dickinson and Plath, cushioned her fall as she grabbed for her telescope and brought again to her eye, spying on the world outside of her room.
Anna hated the fall.
She felt that its name was indicative of its disposition—death, decay, and collapse, the end of the things. As Rome had fallen, so does Mother Nature and the world outside that Anna loves so well. She found comfort in the cyclical quality of life, knowing that, after being covered in a white quilt of serenity for months, the vibrant colors that she loved so much would return to her life, new and fresh and good. She refused to leave her room during these months, for fear that she, too, would wilt and crumble in that chilling autumn breeze that tears each leaf from its stem and sounds it crashing to the hard, cold ground below. Gone was the sensual, seductive show of skin, replaced instead with chapped fingers and lips and necks hidden under scarves. Purples and pinks and blues and greens become shades of grey and all the squirrels and birds run far, far away.
She threw away the telescope once more and bounded for her bed, fumbling to fit her glasses on her nose, as she pulled out her diary and tried to capture all the colorful words that she could before the day was done and the summer gone for good. She knew that she should be outside, enjoying these last hours of summer as they transitioned into fall, but she was afraid of being caught in the change herself, so she opted instead to capture all the thoughts and images she could and horde them in her notebook.
And then the doorbell rang.
Like a squirrel hearing giant footsteps approaching, breaking twigs as they march, Anna perked her head up, extending her neck longer than she thought she could, and looked around. The doorbell sounded again. Cautiously, she put her notebook down and placed her pen in the fold of the spine between the pages and went to the door. She looked first through the small peephole, which reminded her of the telescope from which she watched the world whither, but she saw no one. She turned the deadbolt and opened the door as far as the chain would allow and saw a sliver of a child in a brown dress. But Anna looked beyond this and saw the pigments of fire—oranges, reds, yellows—sprinkled sparsely throughout the sea of green that surrounded her home. For a moment, Anna felt warmed and comforted by this sight, but almost immediately thereafter found herself overcome once again by the fear of that fire spreading, killing each bract and blade and signaling the End.
“Would you like to support Troop 621 and buy some cookies, ma’am?” asked the girl outside, with the sweet, curious naivety that only a child can provide. With a gentle smile of relief, Anna undid the chain lock and welcomed the young girl’s sale as she realized that perhaps the gentle wind that shook her hair would quell the fire, which in turn might give her solace in the coming chill.

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