The Old Leaf

All their lives the leaves knew water; it ran in their veins day to day. Sunlight above, water within, both were their father and mother. They nurtured the leaves, protected them, made them green and gave them life. The branch was their life, and the tree, their world. They were content, and could want no more: they were home.

But life had never been constant. Growth was in change. The green all around the leaf, now yellow of old age, ceased to be familiar. It was now an alien among the younger leaves. Its brothers and sisters all fell to the soil beneath, grey among the grass, forgotten to the years long gone. The leaf was becoming less of a member; it was becoming a burden, and its inevitable fate was the ground, where it would lay with its siblings, fade into the soil and forever gone from the world. Forgotten. Erased. Unknown.

But maybe, the leaf would fall to a wind. The leaf might find for itself one last miracle, and be carried away from the old familiar tree, away from the grey soil and across the lake, into the terrifying and exciting unknown.

But then, it would drown in the lake. Water – its creator and sustainer, would become its ultimate destroyer. The sun would no longer give it life, but burn and dry it to crumbles and ashes. Waves would submerge and claim its remains, wet, cold and insignificant. Would that one last miracle be worth it? Would the promise of fleeting freedom be worth risking the betrayal from its own creators?

On a lone branch of a tree by the side of a clear still lake, one single yellow dot swayed gently to the tugging winds, uncertain and unseen amidst the sea of surety and strong youth.

***

Its stem would give. The leaf would fall. There was no way around it. The quiet indifference all around the yellow one gave no consolation. Blue water and white sun were an old dream. A vague wish.

The winds kept tugging. The lake and the sky kept whispering. The promises were grand, but so was the ground. A taste of the sky and a touch of the lake, a brief reunion before its inevitable demise; or would it just fall for the soil, the blue water forever a touch away as the leaf slowly crumbled?
The old leaf was a burden and of no use. Not anymore. What was there to stay for? What was there to wait for?

And so it gave. A final gift to both itself and the green. A break, and away from the home it knew all its life, it fell. Down the tree it descended, the green shrinking away, ever smaller. There was relief.

But the smaller the green, the greater the black. The soil beneath awaited its arrival. The brown of the tree, its base, its once home, was now ticking toward its final end. The grey of its siblings was there, bigger and bigger, on the soil, always away from the blue, never closer , never will. Among which the falling yellow leaf would soon fade and be forgotten.

Or would it?

The wind came. The grey stirred and pushed the old leaf up, and up did the yellow rise. Whispers of old friends were there. There was sadness, but there was hope immortal. Fly, old friend. Your time has come.

The old leaf rose with the winds, above the tree and the green young leaves, above the forest, up in the sky. The lake was grand, the sky eternal, and the forest, the grey, the green, all a distance away. Sunlight above, water below. There was silence, and there was peace.

And down the leaf fell. The promise fulfilled, and the price was to be paid. The water beneath awaited its arrival. Ever so slowly, the blue was just as black as the soil.

The old leaf touched the lake. Ripples danced across its stillness, a lone yellow dot on the vast expanse of clear quiet blue. Silence. Any moment now, the winds would come and with them waves and forgetfulness.

Sunlight above, water below. It began, it lived, and it shall end. The circle was complete.

Or was it?

A young small bird whipped by and pecked the old leaf up and away from the water. The leaf was in the air again. The winds were there, touching, whispering ever gently. Your time has come.

***

In the nest of a small family of young birds sitting on an old dead tree across the lake, there dotted a single yellow leaf amidst the chirps of new life. Sunlight above, water abound, they were content, and could want no more. They were home.

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