“Woooo!” cried out Bradley as he cannon balled into an immense pile of leaves. A flourish of gold and brown and then Bradley was gone. Covered in a sea of leaves that the season had brought. He shot up for air, grinning ear to ear and glanced in isaac’s direction to see if he had taken notice. Isaac chucked at the little bits of crackled leaves stuck to Bradley’s overcoat. Which Bradley quickly took to dusting off as if it was some unwelcome infestation. He blushed as Isaac turned away to listen to a call-“Isaac! Will Melinda be joining us for dinner tonight?”
“No, ma,” Isaac called back.
“Well, why not? I though you said–”
“I know what I said, ma, but she ain’t coming anymore.” Isaac’s voice rose just slightly enough that his mother got the hint and walked away.
“How come you’re mad at mom and Melinda?”
“I’m not mad at anyone, Brad. Mindy just can’t make it over for dinner. That’s all”
Bradley missed the last part of this sentence because of another concerted effort to impress Isaac by, this time, belly-flopping into the giant piles of leaves that Isaac had raked together.
Isaac watched on as his masterpiece was destroyed. A regular piece of modern art–living and breathing. At first, created with technician like precision, taking extra care to rake the leaves into a huge pile, no, pattern. Isaac had rose early that morning and put on his favorite coat. The sun was barely rising and Isaac in his brown coat with the wooly hood that tickled his frigid cheeks blended into the yard flooded with the season’s tidings.
The brown and gold leaves had begun their transformation a little over a month ago. He remembers sitting with Melinda, reading a book while she pouted about the end of the summer and the impending fall. “Fall,” a word she said with such disgust. She said it like she had just tasted something disenchanting and volatile. But Isaac was resigned to it and hardly bothered by Melinda’s whining. Melinda asked if he would care to get some hot cocoa the next day and have dinner with her parents. The prospect seemed frightful at the time when he was deep into another one of Wordsworth’s masterpieces. He tried his best to sweeten his voice and decline her offer. However, his attempt to be polite went unnoticed and Melinda backed off his shoulder.
“Well, why not?” she reproached.
“Darling, I already told little Bradley I’d take him to the park tomorrow.”
“And that’s going to take you all day?” she asked cynically.
“Well, god, I dunno, Mindy. I already got plans, all right? Sorry”
Melinda’s eyes listlessly looked at Isaac, who was hardly returning her gaze. He was too busy looking out the window as a little girl in a puffy blue jacket had tripped and fallen. Isaac thought that she barely took notice to the fall, she got up smiling and bounded off. Melinda was too busy tracing the lines in Isaac’s sweater and picking off little pieces of lint to see Isaac wasn’t listening. Her mouth was curved off the way it does when Isaac stops kissing her. “You’re being awful sour, Isaac”
“Well, Mindy, you see I’m trying to read here and you’re in my ear about hot cocoa or something.”
“I like to think it would be rather nice. How are you going to have any fun at the park when the weather is like this anyhow?”
“When the weather’s like what? The weather’s fine.”
“Isaac, it’s freezing out, the park is going to be a drag.”
Isaac drove home that night, not letting the speedometer needle quiver past 25. Small traces of the weather’s effect swooned down upon his windshield. Instead of switching on the wipers he let the leaves relax there. Slowly melting their way into patterns on the side of his window. His drive slowly gained an array of gold, brown, yellow lenses. Isaac could barely see, but he smiled anyway as he swerved to avoid an oncoming car. He didn’t know the car was blue until he turned to look through the side window–he thought he heard someone shouting some rather crude language.
“Woaaah,” cooed Bradley. He was pointing in the direction of a swan. This swan was a size that you wouldn’t believe. God knows how it got so big. Its white feathers glossy from the arctic waters that it didn’t mind. Bradley’s deep pupils followed the Swan back and forth. Hypnotized by the sheer brightness of the white feathers. The sun was reflecting rather nicely off the Swan, creating an almost blinding effect that Bradley found intoxicating. Sight impaired, he followed the Swan along the river. Filling in the blinded sections with imagery of dinosaurs and plants that swung and had branches that covered continents. Plants that arched out of the ground into the sky, this is what Bradley imagined in the absence of vision. “How did the swans get so big, Isaac?”
“Well, bud, y’see, there’s this big old’ factory in the north where they take these swans and feed them all sorts of candy. And when the swans are big enough they send ’em back here so little boys like you can enjoy them.”
“What? Isaac, stop messing around, that’s not true… is it?”
“Brad, why would I ever want to lie to you? I promise, I’ll take you to see it one day. It’s a grand factory up there. It’s in Buffalo, actually. It’s a whole rainbow of colors and they let people go inside and everything. The swans are all real happy and dancing around. They get all the candy they want.”
“That sounds marvelous, Isaac,” Bradley barely replied, mouth ajar.
“It really is, bud.”
They walked along in silence for a few minutes. Despite the sun’s surprise appearance, it was still freezing outside and the wind nipped at Bradley and Isaac. The park had only a few other guests that tried to bat the wind out of their faces and they walked by in a hurry with their heads down. The smashing of leaves was heard as the vicious few that were attempting to escape the park stampeded over the leaves that had just begun their descent to the ground. Isaac maneuvered his way around the few that fell in front of him. Being careful not to smash anything that the trees may have misplaced earlier. Before speaking, Bradley turned up to look at Isaac again, he asked in a low voice, “Isaac, why do the leaves stop being green? Is that why the trees throw them to the ground?”
“This is a very good question, Bradley. The leaves turn because they feel like it. They get bored of being one color throughout the whole year. Wouldn’t you?”
“I mean, I guess so, but they look so much prettier when they’re green. Why wouldn’t they wanna stay that way?”
“Because they just don’t, bud, and I think they look prettier this color. Look at how golden they are, they look gorgeous. Don’t they?”
“I suppose. But then why doesn’t the tree want them anymore?”
“It’s not that the tree doesn’t want the leaves anymore, it’s that the tree is giving them to us; to share with us. The tree wants you to put them in big, huge piles and jump into them just like you love to do. Brad, do you know why Dad disliked Shakespeare?”
“I dunno. Why?”
Isaac felt guilty burdening Bradley with such thoughts, but thought it best he learns early. “Well, before Dad passed last year he told me that he thought no one should be compared to a summer’s day. He thought it was an insult to a summer’s day—the gold and red that came with the sunrise, the flowers and birds that sang was something beyond human beauty. I think Dad would have agreed that these leaves are the trees gift to us at the end of the year.”
“Isaac,” Bradley said slowly, “I miss Dad.”
“Me too, bud, me too.”
After this they carried on in silence for a long time. Bradley started to pick up leaves that he thought were the prettiest, each time showing the leaf to Isaac, who would nod in approval, before he would gleefully snatch the leaf off the ground and add it to his collection.
After Bradley finished recovering from his belly flop that he admitted was a mistake almost immediately, Isaac got into his Chevy and started the engine. He turned on the radio to try and drown out the roar I’m picking up good vibrations, she’s giving m—Isaac pounded the stereo back into the off position, disgusted by the trite shit on the radio nowadays. He drove past rows of trees straight to Melinda’s house.
Melinda’s face, ravaged with tears, peeked out the door for barely a second before Isaac emerged back into the cold and the door slammed on him. He walked nonchalant off the patio and onto the sidewalk. Making his way back to his car, but debating whether or not he should walk home. He halted as flashes of gold and red and brown entered his vision. A leaf was slowly drifting towards the sidewalk. It landed gently, and Isaac slowly lifted his foot. He dropped his foot ever so tenderly onto the leaf. And this leaf whispered a small crackle that brought a smile to Isaac’s face at once.