Last Leaf of Fall - By Brian Law

They walked slowly, hunched against the wind, saying little. It was like this every day at about the same time. It was their daily walk together on the sidewalks near their cottage in the retirement village. The weather was changing now so they met few of their remaining neighbors. Those they saw waved from windows but didn’t venture out. Too cold, too windy.


As they turned and saw their cottage down the street, he remarked, “Have you noticed what’s happening to our little tree in front, Marge?”


She shook her head and muttered, “No, what?”


“It’s got one leaf left. One lonely little leaf. It’s not giving up. Shoulda dropped  weeks ago,” he replied.


“Well, there’s always one last leaf, Jim. That’s how it works, right? Then the darkness of Winter and the bloom of Spring.”


He nodded as they neared their cottage and stopped. He pointed to the tree and said, “But this one’s holding on. See, it hasn’t really changed color yet.”


“You making a statement about climate change? Maybe that some day the leaves won’t fall?” she joked.


“No, no, that’s not it. I was just thinking about all the folks nearby who passed this year. You know, Marge lost Phil, Joe lost Mary, and all the rest.” He paused as they started moving towards their cottage again and then added, “All the leaves have dropped off their trees, but not ours. Might be a sign.”


“Jim, you’re in remission. Your doctors have given you a clean bill of health. You don’t need to go looking around for omens or anything. You’re going to be around for a while,” she said with conviction. “And when that little lonely leaf finally drops, you’ll wake up the next day and go on with your life. Believe me, it’s just a leaf, Jim. A stubborn little leaf, but just a leaf.” 


He breathed in deeply as the two of them climbed the steps to their front door. Reaching for the door knob, he told her, “Of course you’re right. I’m going to be just fine.”


He went in first, followed by her. As she turned to close the front door behind them, she looked out at the tree and its lonely little leaf.


She’d have Freddy, the paperboy, take it down early the next morning when he delivered the morning paper, before Jim got up.


Freddy had been a good boy and had done a nice job putting up the fake leaf weeks ago.



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