When the leaves fall.

He was sitting on a bench, staring at the leaves falling from the trees. It was autumn, and everything was orange and red. He always love autumn, because it wasn’t too hot or too cold, and everyone just seemed generally happier. His boss had just given him a promotion, after 7 years of working on his sad, little desk, he was finally upgraded into a slightly larger office. And his office view was this park. 

It was lunch break, and he was waiting for his girlfriend. She was supposed to be here 20 minutes ago, but he didn’t mind. He liked waiting. It meant he got to spend just a little more time with quiet. He watched the only other people in the park aside from him; the young couple, walking hand in hand, the old woman sitting on the bench next to his, a mother struggling to get hold of her son before he ran off, an man sweeping the fallen red and orange leaves.

He liked the way the young couple walked, the way the boy was a head taller than the girl and he could put his chin on the top of her head. She looked at him the way babies look at everything the instant they realize how amazingly wonderful and complicated the world was. The boy had his arm around her, and was carrying her bright pink backpack on his shoulder. He smiled to himself.

The old woman sitting on the bench beside his coughed. It was a cough that wracked her whole, frail body. He almost wanted to go over there and ask if she was alright, but there was something he just couldn’t quite stomach when he was around old people. She looked sad, and her clothes were ragged. He thought she might have lived here, maybe slept on that cold, steel bench every night with nothing to warm her but her crumbling, brown coat. It was just about the saddest thing he’d ever seen.

A young boy came up to him, and offered him a rock. It was the young boy struggling to get away from his mother. He took the rock and smiled gratefully at the boy. The boy smiled back, both of his front teeth were missing. The boy’s mother came over and scolded him.

"I’m sorry he’s bothering you. He’s trying to get out of a haircut." The boy stuck his tongue out at his mother, and he couldn’t help but laugh. He remembered how stubborn he was when he was a child. He once kicked his mother shin and ran away when she took him to the dentist. He decided to give his mother a call went he got home today. He watched as the mother pulled the boy away. The boy was kicking and screaming, but his mother said something to him, and the boy went limp, letting his mother drag him to that haircut.

He hadn’t noticed the sweeping man come up behind him.

"Bit of a brat, eh?"

"I suppose so." He tells the sweeping man, who seemed to be absentmindedly sweeping the area behind his bench.

"If my boy was like that, he’d get a good smacking. That’s what kids need these days. A good smacking." The sweeping man nods to himself. "Good old fashioned discipline."

He nods, wishing the sweeping man would leave. He watched a flock of birds fly across the pond, and shoot right up to the sky. 

His girlfriend finally arrives, apologizing and explaining that she’d gone to the wrong station. She was new in town, having just moved in with him at his apartment. They’d been together since high school. 

"Let’s eat that new sushi place down of 5th. Shauna said they had good sushi. You promised me we’d try sushi, didn’t you?" She always seemed to be talking to this Shauna a lot. He’d never actually met her, but it seemed Shauna was very good at picking places to eat in.

"Did you ever notice a flock of birds? They all move exactly the same, right? And they know exactly where they’re going. They’re all in sync, but, look at that. That bird right there. He’s a little bit behind the others. They’ve got a long way to go, and he has to keep up or he’ll get lost, right? If he’ll get lost then he’d have to fly there on his own. You don’t see a lot of birds like those flying around all alone, do you?"

"I don’t know. What are you trying to say?"

"Nothing. It’s just weird, that’s all."

"Sushi, then?"


The End

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