Tag Archives: Short Story

Free story: The Year the Leaves Fell Early

Sometimes I have no idea where a story comes from. This one (about 1300 words) just popped in my head tonight so I wrote it really quick. It’s probably from my fear of dying young, before I can love all I must and learn all I can.

 

The Year the Leaves Fell Early

By

Lee Thompson

 

The leaves have fallen early and they scrape the sidewalk, driven by a heartless wind.

The doctor tells you the life you’ve had is about over. On the optimistic side you have one year left. It doesn’t seem real, sitting there, his hand on your shoulder and your family out there somewhere living their lives, and you knowing that you can’t tell a soul because you don’t want them to weep for you, for what you had, and what could never last, for what you can’t sustain, and for what you and they will miss.

You never realized it before, but who you are will transform into who you were…

The unknown is right there, at the end of an exhalation, cold against your fingertips, pressing softly against your eyelids. And every day its worse, the fear, and the pain, but you can’t tell them, the ones who always said you had a great laugh, a killer smile. You were a good father, a loving brother, a sometimes troublesome son. And they don’t know. They won’t know until you’re too weak to share that laugh, or smile that smile, and you won’t be much of a father then, or a brother, or a troublesome son, because it just takes too much energy to simply endure the last few hours, reminiscing, wishing, accepting…

As the months pass, your family grows irritable; they think that you’re mad at them. They think you’re depressed and in one of your foul moods. Your sister calls to complain, but only because she’s worried. She thinks you’re hitting the bottle too hard. She thinks you’ll drink yourself to death…

And you think: If only that was all I had to worry about

And your mother, bless her heart, loves you despite your distance. She knows something is wrong, but she also knows you’ll get past it, like you always have. But you can hear the breeze growing stronger, and the branches rattling with a strange kind of music, and you think: Not this time, Mom

You want to hug her, but every time you get close to her you start weeping and you have to flee your parents’ house because they can’t see you like this, and they stand there in the door, dumbfounded, worried that you’re losing your mind as the autumn sunset burns against your fleeing outline and the wind shakes more leaves loose.

The concrete feels solid beneath your feet as you stumble away, but it too will crumble one day, the way your health has, and like your bones it’ll become dust, and what then? Who will remember the path they walked in their youth?

Who will remember that you had walked it alone in that final dusk, with the stars your only companions, with the winter wind only a month or two away and your hands stuffed deep in your pockets, your chin tucked tight to your chest as you remember what the doctor said?

One year max.

It’s like a sentence, only you don’t want parole, and you don’t want the freedom of eternity if it means losing all you have worked so hard to attain and care for…

And it lives inside you, the darkness, and it’s taking you from all that mattered and all that could matter, and it’s not fair at all. You had big plans. You were writing so hard, bleeding on the page, weren’t you? And you can’t tell them you’re dying because all you have left are the words to get you by: a note, a letter, a story, a goodbye.

I love you, all of you, you whisper on that cold morning you feel the change.

Your year is almost up, and it’s gone by so quickly, and you’ve done so little of what you’ve wanted to do with your life.

There hasn’t been anything brave, or noble, nothing much memorable at all, but you loved deeply, and that should be enough, shouldn’t it?

To some it is, but for you it’s not, because if you only had another month, another week, another day, you could show them that your life was part of their lives, and it mattered, it all matters if you care enough, and maybe if you care enough you can carry part of it with you, and maybe if you care enough part of you will remain behind…

But nothing matters anymore expect for what begins and what ends.

You had love and you enjoyed it, and it was over in the blink of an eye, wasn’t it? It lasted but a moment in time, like the smile they all loved, like your confidence, and your dreams, and your immortality.

And you’ve grown weaker this past month, can barely move the last week, but you love more than you ever loved.

Your little sister is there and she wants to know what’s happening. She keeps a cool cloth on your forehead and thinks it’s only a fever since she doesn’t know, can’t comprehend what’s happening, but she is watchful. And hopeful. And you want to make her suffering less.

And your brother is there too, distant, and he thinks that you’re doing all of this for attention, and you want to reach out to both of them until the door opens and you see your parents leading her in, your lover, your soulmate, and she knows, she’s part of you, and as you die, she dies with you…

But you want her to come with you, because you’re alone down there in the deepest part of you, and you’re afraid. You don’t want to leave yet. There is so much still to do. So much still to experience, so many mistakes yet to make and learn from, so many lives you could have an impact on and that could teach you more about yourself and your place in the world…

It’s a waste, you think, looking up at her.

She stands by your bed. She looks down into your eyes.

She holds your hand and she tells you, “It’s okay…”

Yet it’s not okay, nothing can ever be okay again, and as much as you love her for who she is and for her strength, you hate her for letting go so easily. You see your daughter in the doorway, five years old, too young to watch and learn something like this, yet her face is impassive, unyielding, and you think that beyond her you see a shadow filling the doorway…

Your whimper is loud in the room, on the soft bed, surrounded by sad faces. Your body has wasted away and they can’t understand why you won’t eat, and maybe they think that there is a corruption you’re atoning for, and you know, you can see in their eyes that they know you’ll pull through this and life will carry on as it always has. You will have the opportunities you crave, the passion to mine, the joys to share, the heartaches which bring people close and are so quickly forgotten…

But they’re only there for a time, and you’re only there for a time, and you have not done enough for yourself, or for them, and only she knows, and she lets you go, releases your hand, orders you to sleep, and those you love look on, confused and afraid…

Yet she’s not afraid, and you wish you could have her strength, but in the darkness there is no room for strength, there is only the warmth fleeing, and then the coldness, and the whispers you hear over your corpse, and the music that plays far off, and the tears drying on reddened cheeks, and in the doorway the child marked by the growing shadow.

So you look away, out the window, and you can see the leaves falling early, drying up, curling in on themselves right before your eyes, and you whisper from the abyss, I love you… But no one hears, no one moves for a moment…

The leaves have fallen early and they scrape the sidewalk, driven by the heartless wind, a doorway to an everlasting winter… and then those surrounding you cry and they embrace and you watch and you listen from outside the glass, trapped in the larger and uncaring world, invisible, a part of the dying foliage.

 

Video reading of Daddy Screamed With Us

I’m going to focus on using video a lot. It’ll be a learn as I go type deal. It was definitely a bit uncomfortable, but I’ll get used to it because I like getting better at stuff and I think videos will be fun! Feel free to share it with anybody you think might be interested and have a wonderful week! Thanks!