Soft and Mellow Leaves

The sun was warm, every cloud had a luminous silver lining, the leaves had just turned to that soft, crisp and mellow color I would grow to so much adore. It was the day of my birth. Not every day is as eventful as your birthday. Some pass to bring new beginnings, triumph, glory, and others injustice. All days come and go and serve their purpose, but none so much as the day of birth, the day to start them all…

I’d woken with the sound of running water patting at my door. It was 6:00 AM and the dawn of the day of my 18th birthday. My mom had to be to work soon. Her showers were usually short and efficient, but today was different. Something seemed to be wrong, she should have been out. I waited, laying in bed, making nothing more of her compromised demeanor. I had a quiz that day, and I hadn’t studied and slept little. I rolled over and let the soft lulls of water carry me back into sleep.

It’s 8:49 now, and time for me to roll out of bed. Senior year at Snoquilm has treated me pretty well. I get up, throw on some clothes and shoes, and run downstairs for breakfast, I can’t miss breakfast on Friday or I’ll get sick during my Phys. Ed. Class. I poured my Oatmeal squares and started to pour the milk when-


The shock of it made me mumble aloud. The water of her shower sounded eerie now, as if it knew something I didn’t. Panic gripped my lungs and made it difficult to breathe.

I made for the stairs with all the speed my body allowed and arrived at the locked door with a sigh.

“MOM!” I scream, with no reply.

Abandoning my hopes for a reply, I started to push down the door, and when that failed, to kick down the frame in it’s entirety. It finally gave, and with a rush of anticipation I pulled back the curtain.

I knew she was dead though her eyes were closed and she could have been asleep. I froze for a second, uncertain of whether I should embrace her or preserve her delicate state. I feared that touching her would cause her pain, or I for that matter. The water still ran, but the room was cold, and I knew the water was as well. It fell in pools and beads, simultaneously gathering and rolling off of her body. Her hair looked dark with moisture, and her skin looked pale and tight. She was my mother in all her former beauty, askew at the bottom of the tub.

I reached for the faucet and turned the water off, deciding alas, that it was important for me to hold her, the touch of her skin gave me a sense of warmth. The side of the tub was cold, and dug into my outstretched arms. I pulled off my shoes and curled into the tub beside her, ignoring the cold wet of the porcelain tub. Alone in the house, alone in the room, and alone with my mom for what would be the last time in my eighteen years of life.

I tucked her head into my neck and wept into her already sopping hair. Nothing seemed fair now, nothing seemed right, nothing even seemed logical. Lies from mother flooded into my head almost at once, “I’ve been feeling great honey, things will only be getting better from now on.” I was mad at her, no, I was furious. If only she had shed her pride and revisited her doctors. It made me sick. I was more nauseated than I’d ever been, and furious with myself and my mother. I was mad at her, and guilty for my anger, and sick with my guilt. My head spun and my throat tightened, and it was all just so unfair.

The phone call was hard. She answered with her Happy Birthday song, and tears swelled in my eyes. You Can’t, I told myself, but I knew I had no choice. Nothing could have prepared her for the heart break I had no choice but to deliver. I cut off her birthday song.
“What’s wrong?”
“Something happened.”
“What happened?”
“Something really bad.” I couldn’t say it, I couldn’t tell her.
“You can tell me babe, remember? Your secrets are safe with me.”
“It’s not like that.” My voice cracked when I said this, and I hated myself for it.
“Well you can still tell me. What’s wrong? You’re worrying me.”
“Mom’s dead Hailey.”
“Say something.”
“What?” She couldn’t think of anything else to say, I could tell, and I was beginning to know the feeling well.
“She’s dead. She died Hay, and now she’s gone. She’s gone and she won’t ever come back Hay. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what happens now.”

We stayed in silence for some time, listening to the sounds of each other’s tearful despair. When the silence broke, she was the first to speak. Being Mom’s sister and more enabled than I, she promised to take care of everything and arrange Mom’s burial plans. She also offered for me to stay with her a while, so I wouldn’t have to stay alone in the house, but I declined, and I don’t really know why.

It’s strange really, how the day of my birth came and went. Such a monumental moment come and gone, and with no regard for people whatsoever. It’s ironic that my birthday, and my eighteenth at that, can bring so much change to my life. In a way, I think this marks the death of my childhood, much more than it will ever mark the birth of my adulthood. My only hope is that my grief will end in time, and that I can one day again appreciate the simple beauty of the leaves.

Soft and Mellow Leaves

Justin Flower

Pasco, United States

  • Artist
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