The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part II
Margaret stood there, gazing at the golden leaf. As she stood there, the leaves began to blow in a circular motion, until they were making circles around her. There was something about the leaf that she couldn’t put into words. Words could not explain what she was feeling right now. To her, the leaf felt familiar to her. She couldn’t explain why. It just felt that way.
As Margaret remained in awe at the golden leaf that she was holding, a loud beep came from her Multitasker, and a holographic image of her mother projected out of it.
“Margaret, it’s almost 7:00.” Her mother said with a sigh.
This snapped Margaret out of her reverie. Or perhaps it was a different state of mind or a trance. It didn’t matter what it was. All Margaret knew was that she was late. She looked at her Multitasker. “Display time.” she ordered.
The Multitasker projected a holographic image of a digital clock. The time was 6:57 p.m. “Oh mother!” she said, gasping. “I’m very sorry! I was having too much fun….”
“I’m glad that you did, sweetheart.” her mother said, smiling. “Now….”
“And then I found something that was truly amazing!” Margaret interrupted. “I’ll be home shortly. Bye!”
The holographic image of her mother vanished, and Margaret began running towards the exit of the forest sanctuary. As she was running, she held the golden leaf tightly in her hand.
“Such a lovely leaf,” she whispered, in labored breaths. “Can’t wait to show mother….”
Margaret came to the exit of the Forest Sanctuary. She exited the door she entered, and ran back to the crowded plaza nearby. She found the coordinates for home and scanned them in, using her Multitasker. She then pressed the button and was transported to Cypress Street, the road that ran down the subdivision where she lived.
From there, she ran down the street, back toward her house. 27842 was the house number that she stopped at. She concealed the leaf and approached the door.
Upon opening the door, there her mother stood, with a frown on her face. “Margaret dear!” she shouted. “What took you so long? I was starting to worry!”
Margaret, still short of breath, stared at her mother, smiling. “I’m….very sorry….mother….” she gasped.
Her mother gave her a hug. “I’m not mad at you.” she told her. “I was just worried. Now dear. You seem to be quite exhausted. Now I want you to catch your breath, and then we can talk. Okay?”
Margaret nodded, still gasping for air. “Thank you….mother….”
Margaret sat on the sofa for a few minutes and waited for her breathing to return to normal. Her mother quietly sat there, watching her daughter.
Finally, Margaret’s breathing was normal. She then stood up and approached her mother. “Now mother,” she announced, “The Forest Sanctuary was a lot of fun. I took your advice and I used my imagination. I created several imaginary friends and we all had fun. Too bad they all had to leave.”
Her mother nodded. “Well, that’s your imagination, honey. They can come and go as much as they please if you want them to.”
An even bigger smile began to form on Margaret’s face. “Now mother….” she announced. “The reason why I was so late was because I found this.” She reached inside the top of her dress and pulled out a golden leaf. “I found this beautiful leaf in the Forest Sanctuary. Doesn’t it look amazing?”
At this, her mother gasped. A sudden feeling of fear began to grip her tightly. “Where did you say you found that again?”
“I found it in the Forest Sanctuary, under a really big tree!” she told her. “Is there something wrong?”
A sudden look of anxiety began to fill her mother’s face. “Yes honey,” she said, her voice quavering. “It”s that leaf that you’re holding. Get rid of it!”
Margaret brought both of her palms together, holding the golden leaf in the center. She then looked back at her mother and frowned. “Why, mother? What’s wrong with this leaf?”
The mother, still nervous, made a waving gesture at her daughter. “Sit down honey, and I will tell you. And please put that leaf away. I…I don’t want to see it.”
Margaret nodded, and placed the leaf back inside her dress. She then sat down next to her mother. “Now what’s wrong with it, mother? I think it’s a beautiful leaf.”
Her mother shook her head. “That leaf is dangerous, and I’ll tell you why. It affected my grandmother.”
Margaret gasped. “Your grandmother? How?”
The mother let out a deep sigh. “Well….first of all, she’s your great-grandmother. Now I don’t remember this happening very well. When I was your age, she died. After that, her body went inside a golden leaf. It was a leaf just like the one you have. My mother told me all this since I wasn’t there when my grandmother died.”
Margaret shook her head. “That’s sad….Now mother, what was my great-grandmother like?”
The mother sighed again. “I don’t remember much about her, honey. Now my mother told me a lot about her. She said that she wasn’t acting herself and that she lived in the forest.” The mother then stared at Margaret directly in the face. “Now listen to me, dear. Because of my grandmother, my mother was crazy. Trying to cure my grandmother was the only thing she spent her whole life doing. She wrote in her diaries, filling them with notes from everyone that was able to provide information about her. She even talked to my great-grandmother and my grandmother’s friend.”
“What was her name?”
“Whose name, honey?”
The mother paused. Finally she said, “her name is Autumn.”
Margaret gasped. “Autumn? That’s an interesting name.”
The mother grabbed a tissue and wiped some sweat off her brow. “She does have a real name, but I’ll let you figure that out yourself. Her diaries are upstairs in the attic. I’ll let you take a look at them.”
Margaret sat there, her face frozen. She was dumbfounded. “Why was your mother crazy?” she finally said.
The mother shook her head. “She was crazy because of all the crazy things that she wrote. One thing that she claimed to see was this strange vision. It told her to do something. That’s all I’ll tell you. Read the diaries, honey.”
Margaret nodded. “Okay mother. I will.” After that, she sat there, thinking. “Why don’t we ever visit your mother, I mean, my grandmother?”
When the mother heard this, she burst into tears. “It’s because she’s gone, honey. She disappeared on the day you were born, and I haven’t been able to find her since.”
Margaret sat there, silent, watching her mother cry. Of all the nine years that she has been alive, she has never seen her cry like this. After she cried for a while, she blew her nose with a tissue. After that, she felt a little better.
Finally, Margaret stood up. “I’m going off to bed.” she told her. “I’m a little tired.”
Lily gasped. “Without dinner?”
Margaret sighed. “I’m not hungry, so goodnight!”
“Good night, dear!” her mother said, smiling. As her daughter was about to go upstairs, she gasped. “Get rid of that leaf too, honey! Return it to where you found it!”
Margaret nodded, both feet on the first step. “I’ll do it tomorrow, mother!”
Margaret walked upstairs and got ready for bed. While she was doing this, she left the golden leaf on her dresser in her bedroom. After getting ready, she put on her light blue nightgown. She then grabbed the golden leaf and sat on her bed, resting the leaf on her lap.
She stared carefully at the leaf and sighed. The leaf continued to glow, flashing its golden light into her eyes. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered. “What could be so bad about this?”
Margaret placed the golden leaf underneath the covers. She then turned off the light and crawled underneath the covers. Grasping the leaf, she held it in her hand, pulling the covers with her other hand until just her face was showing, resting on the pillow.
Margaret then fell fast asleep, with the light from the leaf emanating from her clutched hand. The light grew and grew, until her entire room was greeted by its radiance….
©2012 K. L. Walker