About a year ago, I wrote a slightly lengthy flash fiction (because who am I as a writer if not a bit wordy?) that I’ve since posted on this blog called “The Last Leaf.” Today, in honor of the tattoo I just got with this very leaf in mind, I’m reposting it with the following note: I have never felt more intertwined with the narrator of this piece than I have in these last few months. For every day of the last few months, in spite of every difficulty, I have thought about this leaf, and I’ve remembered to always strive to be the last leaf, so to speak, in all aspects of my life. I’ve remembered to hold on no matter what, to incorporate this kind of strength and determination into everything that I do, to weather every storm that comes my way until the sky clears and I can feel the sun on my face again. I’ve learned to have faith in my ability to hold on, faith in the ability of others to do the same, and faith that, should I ever fall, the wind will carry me to where I’m meant to be. For me, the concept of this leaf is what eliminates the fear and enables the strength that it takes to make it back to the sunshine each time it gets lost behind the clouds, and I’d like to think that the narrator of this story has found that peace by now as well. Thank you for reading my ramblings and unnecessarily long sentences and enjoy this spontaneous Saturday night blog.
The Last Leaf
I’m sitting in my favorite chair, the one by the front window. I clutch my hot chocolate in both hands as I stare blankly out at the sparkling white expanse of the front lawn, taking in the gentle grey of the sky, the steady flurry of the giant, white flakes, and the way the snow has slowly begun to fall from each individual tree branch.
As I sit, I see a leaf blowing stiffly in the wind. Some time ago, I would have marveled at the way this leaf had somehow found the strength to hang on to its tree through the fall months and into the new year, finally succumbing to the power of the first winter storm of the season when it could hang on no more. Now, I wonder why. Why did it cling so stubbornly to its branch? Why, when it would have been so simple for it to fall, crunching sharply under the foot of a little kid walking home from the bus stop, or the tire of a car moving slowly over the slick pavement, would this leaf endure the pain of holding on?
I used to love the snow. I loved the way it seemed to appear magically overnight, never making a sound. I loved the look of the sky just before a big snowstorm, and the color of the clouds as they graced the world beneath them with a blanket of glistening white. I loved the way it smelled, the way it tasted, the way it felt to take my gloves off and feel each individual snowflake melt into my skin. I used to find myself walking out into the yard, compelled by the majesty of the winter wonderland it had become, and just standing there in the cold, admiring the complete and utter beauty of the neighborhood as the snow fell.
Now, though I still acknowledge its magnificence, I am able to see past snow’s gentle beauty. Now, I look at the snow as it continues in its relentless descent to the earth, and I see the ugly that joins its beauty. Now, I see the woman who slips on the ice and hits her head after work. Now, I see the car accidents that come when the temperature drops and the streets become deadly sheets of ice. Now, I see the homeless that remain stuck outside in the storm with nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait for the storm to pass. Now, I see all that it has taken away from me despite the way I once cherished it.
Now, I miss the person that I used to be. I miss the girl who ran outside without a jacket just to stand and dance in the snow and feel it on her skin. I miss the girl who would sit in this very chair, drinking hot chocolate from this very mug, cozy in this very blanket, and stare at the snow for hours and hours, feeling only joy at the sight of it. I miss the girl who saw beauty before ugliness and love before hate. I’ve tried and tried to get that girl back, but now, as I stare out at this brave, stubborn leaf, I can see that she may never truly come back to me.