Fall Maples

September 30, 2010

There was a bite in the air that hadn’t been there a week ago. Nothing drastic, just a crisp edge with a smell that somehow managed to bring potato skins to mind. Leaves rustled around her feet as she walked a few feet to the side of the path, and cracked under her weight with every step. The sensation of that very brief resistance before the dry brown-orange-yellow leaves succumbed to the pressure was somehow invigorating. One of the few things she had that were.  Above her head, the maples that lined every path of the public park stretched out branches decorated for Halloween. Red, orange and yellow, every bit as beautiful as the lights that would be wrapped around the trees’ naked fingers come the Christmas season. Maybe more for being nature’s own invention, rather than coming from the interference of man.

She was in her element, here, and maybe especially today. Most of what showed of her fur was either dark brown or the orange-red common to cats, with her shoulder-length hair a shade more red than her pelt. Her woolen coat was a tasteful, low-key grey-brown, an approximation of the maples’ bark, with a long, bright yellow mohair scarf providing a splash of color that fit just as well into the seasonal palette. The sun shone bright from a sky remarkably close in color to the tortoiseshell-point’s eyes. This place, this season, seemed to have been made for her, and for a moment, it might be enough to let her forget her troubles.

She could use that.

But it would be little use to try very hard; the neatly-folded set of forms tucked into the inner pocket of her coat burned like coals against her chest. It wasn’t just the summer winding to an end. It was… everything. She wasn’t worried, not exactly; her soon-to-be ex-husband had agreed to cede custody of their only child to her when she’d agreed to give up her claims on child support in turn, and he’d never been the main earner in their household. Maybe that had contributed to his betrayal. She didn’t know, and she wasn’t about to ask him.

She was, however, wistful for their early years. Thomas showing up unannounced with a bouquet of roses and lilies in shades of orange, which no doubt had been difficult to talk the florist into putting together for Valentine’s Day when everyone else wanted shades from red to pink. The two of them attracting odd looks as they set up a picnic in the park on a day much like this one, bundled up in an extra blanket together as they laughed and took turns drinking hot coffee using the thermos lid as a cup. The look on his face as she’d surprised him on their six-month anniversary, waiting in his bedroom as he returned home clad only in the gold-and-amber necklace he’d given her on their third date.

Last Valentine’s Day she’d found a babysitter for Toni, taken the afternoon off work, and spent most of that afternoon working on a romantic dinner for the two of them. Thomas had returned home at two in the morning, and had assumed she didn’t catch the whiff of perfume that clung to the shirt he carelessly dropped in the hamper before getting into bed next to her.

No, she couldn’t feel bad about the divorce papers burning a hole in her pocket as she made her way through the fall-clad park towards the courthouse. But she could be wistful for the summer days of their relationship.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WP Hashcash