The Golden Leaf

The Golden Leaf

Jill looked at the pile of leaves and smiled.  Just as she was about to jump into them, her friend approached her.

“Did you find it yet?” her friend asked her.

“Find what?” Jill asked with curiosity.

Her friend Jaime smiled.  “The golden leaf, of course!” she said with a smile.  “Every 100 years, it is said that a tree will drop a golden leaf.  Whoever has the leaf can do some amazing things!”

After she said that, Jill’s older brother Josh, overhearing Jaime’s story, laughed.  “That is a just a fairy tale!  You will never find anything like that.”

“How do you know?” Jaime challenged him.  “You’ve never seen one before!”

Josh smiled.  “Have you?”

Jaime hesitated, and then sighed.  “No.”

Jill gave Jaime a nudge.  “Come on, then!  Let’s find the golden leaf!”

With that, the girls began looking for the golden leaf.  They started looking together, but Jill started to search a little farther up.  Eventually, she was a good distance away from Jaime.

Jill began to enter the woods, looking at every leaf in sight.  She then approached a very tall tree.  It was also very old, with gnarled branches and gnarled roots.  At the base of it, Jill thought she saw something shine.  Maybe it was just her imagination.

After digging up some leaves at the base of the tree, she saw the flash again.  At that time, she knew that she saw it.  As she kept lifting leaves, the flash got brighter and brighter.  Where could this flash be coming from?  The curiosity was getting the best of Jill, and she began to lift up a few more leaves….

Finally, Jill lifted up the last leaf.  And there on the ground sat a golden leaf, with a bright golden light emanating from it.  This was the leaf that her friend was talking about.  The one that only dropped every 100 years.  She then turned around, and began to head back to tell Jaime.  Instead, she couldn’t resist.  She turned around, ran up to the golden leaf and clutched it in her hand.

At the very moment she did this, she began to flash a golden glow.  The golden leaf did not break when she held it in her hand.  Jill’s hair extended and became a golden color.  Her dress changed into bright colors, reflecting the colors of autumn.  Jill felt a strange power flowing through her.  A strong wind began to blow around her, with the leaves circling Jill.  Along with that, she heard a voice.  It was a girl’s voice, and it sounded like a whisper.

Jill was frightened as she heard the voice.  Who are you?  she asked it, whispering.

You will know soon enough, the voice told her.

Jill nodded.  Her dress and hair were back to normal.  The golden leaf was still resting in her right hand.  Noticing this, Jill concealed the leaf and tucked it inside the top of her dress.

She then exited the forest and noticed Jaime in the distance.  When she saw her friend, her attitude began to change.

Jaime noticed Jill in the distance and called for her.  “Jill!” she shouted.  “Did you find the golden leaf?”

Jill lied.  “No,” she told her.  “I couldn’t find anything back there….”

Jaime sighed.  “Okay Jill.  I gotta go.  My mom is calling me.  I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Jill nodded and said bye to her friend.  While she heard herself say it, the way she said it felt different to her.  Knowing about the golden leaf, she didn’t want her friend to find out for some reason.  Whatever the case, the golden leaf was hers now.  A faint flash emanated from Jill’s dress as she entered the house….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Advertisements

The Golden Leaf: Part II

The Golden Leaf: Part II

Once in the house, Jill’s mother was inside.  She stood in the living room, smiling.

“So Jill, did you have fun with Jaime?”  Her mother asked her.

Jill nodded.  “Yes I did.  Her mother picked her up.  I don’t understand why she did this when she lives right down the road from us.”

Her mother nodded.  “Perhaps her mother was on her way home from shopping.”

Jill felt her stomach rumble.  “Is dinner ready yet?”

“Just about.  I’ll have it ready in a few minutes, honey.”

After a few minutes, the mother served dinner.  The father was home just in time for it.

For dinner, it was generally quiet.  Jill didn’t have much to say, since she didn’t want to mention the leaf that she found.  She only spoke when she was spoken to.  She gave brief answers, as she ate her chicken, rice and green beans.

Finally, Jill was finished with her dinner.  “May I be excused?” She asked her.  “I am not feeling well, and I’m going to bed early.”

The mother frowned.  “You’re not?  Rest up then, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

Jill left the table and walked upstairs.  She wanted to leave the table, but only so that she could see who this voice was.  She could only do this in the privacy of her room.

Once upstairs, Jill took the golden leaf out of her dress and sat it underneath her pillow.  She then changed into her pajamas and got ready for bed.  She brushed her teeth and drank her glass of water.  Jill entered her bedroom.  Her fourth grade math book sat on top of her backpack, as a reminder for homework.  It was Friday night, so she still had time.

Jill then climbed into bed and got underneath the covers.  She lifted up her pillow and held the golden leaf in her hands.  Right as she did this, she flashed and she heard the girl’s voice again.

That leaf doesn’t belong here….the voice said, in almost a whisper.

Jill threw her hands up and crossed them.  “What do you mean?” She asked.  “It’s my leaf.  I found it!”

The leaf is not yours….the voice argued.  You took the leaf out of the forest, where it belonged.  Put it back….

“No!” Jill argued.  “The leaf is mine!  I am not putting it back!”

Jill was suddenly hit with a strong gust of wind.  That golden leaf is my vessel.  It doesn’t belong in a place like this.  It belongs in the forest….

A sudden shock began to fill Jill.  The gust of wind almost knocked her down on her bed.  Jill tried to speak, but no words came out.  Finally, she said “w-w-who are you?”

A gentle breeze brushed against Jill’s face.  I am you….the voice said.

After that, the wind died down.  The voice said no more after this.

Jill was relieved that the voice went away.  What exactly did the voice mean by what it said?  That didn’t matter to Jill right now.  Clutching the golden leaf tight in her hands, she held it as she fell fast asleep.

A faint golden glow emanated from Jill as she slept.  The glow began to fill the room, until it was covered completely….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Part III

The Golden Leaf: Part III

Jill woke up, feeling a little different.  She could not quite explain it, but she knew that something was different about her.

Smiling from ear to ear, Jill clutched the golden leaf in her hand and entered the bathroom.  Looking in the mirror, she was right.  Her hair was a little longer.  Jill guessed about four or five inches.  Her hair was also in a different color.  There were streaks of gold and orange mixed with her naturally brown hair.  At this, Jill shrugged her shoulders and got ready.

Jill got her clothes for the day and got ready.  She picked a purple dress with silver spots speckled all over.  As she got ready in the bathroom, she wondered why her hair was longer and colored differently.  Could it be the leaf? she thought.  After getting ready, she tucked the golden leaf inside the top of her dress and exited the bathroom.

When Jill got to the bottom of the stairs, her mother was standing there.  “Are you feeling any better….Jill!” she gasped.

Jill nodded and smiled.  “I feel a lot better, mother.”

The mother frowned and looked at her in bewilderment.  “That’s strange.  Your hair looks a little longer.  And you colored it?”

Jill lied again.  It was not like her to do this.  She still felt different.  It didn’t make sense to her and she couldn’t explain it.  “Yes mother.  I did it for you.  Do you like it?”

The mother was speechless.  “Jill, I never said that you could color your hair.   It does look a little different.  Kind of like the leaves outside.  Just don’t do it again, honey.”

Jill was troubled.  She knew that she didn’t color her hair.  She tried to say it, but it just wouldn’t come out.  It was almost like something was preventing her from saying it.

“Honey?” the mother frowned.  “Were you going to say something?”

Jill, puzzled, looked at her mother.  “Yes….I was going to tell you that….my hair….looks nice today and I’m going to have breakfast now.”

The mother nodded, pointing towards the kitchen.  “Okay honey.”

Jill entered the kitchen and poured herself a bowl of cereal.  As she was pouring the milk, she was frustrated.  That was not what I wanted to say at all!  What’s happening to me?  As she wondered this, a golden glint of light flashed from inside her dress.

After Jill finished her bowl of cereal, the doorbell rang.  Her mother answered it.

“Jill!” her mother called.  “It’s your friend Jaime!”

Jill ran to the door, which was open.  Jaime was standing there, touting an eager expression.

“Are you ready to look for the golden leaf?” Jaime said with a big smile.

Jill nodded, and turned to her mother.  “Me and Jaime are going to play outside for a while.  I’ll be back later!”

The mother smiled, lightly tapping Jill on the shoulder.  “Okay honey!  Have fun!”

Jill and Jaime walked away from the house, towards the woods.  As Jaime was walking, she stopped and looked at Jill.

Looking impatient, Jill frowned.  “What?” she said, looking at Jaime.

Jaime was filled with confusion.  “You look different.  Your hair is longer and it has gold and orange streaks on it.”

Jill smiled.  “I colored it myself,” she lied.  “Do you like it?”

Jaime frowned.  “I see that, but your hair is longer.  I played with you yesterday and it was shorter.  Hair doesn’t grow that fast, Jill.”

Jill was silent.  She didn’t want to say anymore.  The only thing she wanted to tell her was the truth.  Instead, she was overcome with impatience.  “Just leave me alone about the hair!  So it grew that fast.  Why does this bother you?”

Jaime gasped.  While Jill was talking, she noticed a golden flash coming from her dress.  “What was that flash?” she asked her.

Jill looked around.  “What flash?  I didn’t see any flash?”

“There!” Jaime shouted, pointing her finger at the dress.  “I saw it again!  It was gold colored.  Did you find the golden leaf, Jill?”

Jill choked.  “That’s what we’re going to find, isn’t it?”

A look of concern came over Jaime’s face.  “Your face is getting red.” she told her.  “Why are you sweating?  You have the golden leaf, don’t you?”

Jill flashed, with a very bright gold light and a strong gust of wind blew right out of her, knocking Jaime down. Her hair also reverted back to its original color and retracted to its original length.  “Leave me alone!” Jill shouted, using the girl’s voice she heard in her head.

Jaime was terrified.  Getting to her feet, she screamed, backing away from Jill.  “What’s happening to you?”

Jill used every ounce of strength she had and opened her mouth.  “I….don’t know!” she cried.

Jaime looked at Jill, and pointed at her dress.  “Get rid of that leaf, Jill!  I think that’s what is causing all this.”

Jill shook her head.  “No!  It’s my leaf!  I’m never going to give it up.”

Jaime held up her hand.  “Then I’ll make you.  I am not losing my best friend.”

Jaime lunged at Jill.   In a split second, Jill transformed herself into a pile of leaves, which blew a few feet away from Jaime.  The leaves rematerialized into Jill.

“Bye Jaime,” Jill told her.

Jill ran away from her and back toward the house.  She didn’t want to run away from Jaime.  She wanted to play with her some more.  But for some reason, she couldn’t.

Jill entered the house and walked past her mother.

“What’s wrong?” the mother asked her.

“Jaime hates me!” Jill sobbed, as she began running up the stairs.

Jill entered her room and closed the door.  She sulked on her bed for the rest of the day.

During that time, Jill took the golden leaf out of her dress.  Filled with anger, she wanted to get rid of it.  She ran into the bathroom with it and tried throwing it into the toilet.  She couldn’t.  The leaf stuck to her hand.  Jill then heard the voice again.  Learn who you are and things will be better….

Jill tried crinkling the leaf into pieces, but it remained whole no matter what she did.

Giving up, Jill re-entered her room and plopped on her bed.  When her mom called her down for dinner, she ate it.  Once again, her older brother was at his friend’s house, so it was just her, her mother and her father. Jill said nothing to her parents and quickly ate her dinner.  After that, she ran upstairs, got ready, put her pajamas on and got into bed.

Jill lay there, holding the golden leaf.  She felt helpless.  Anything she tried to say regarding the truth to her parents was subverted by the voice in her head.  She couldn’t get rid of the leaf, either.

Finally, Jill couldn’t stand it.  She called to the voice.  “Who are you?” she asked the voice.  “You sound like a girl.”

A gentle breeze blew on Jill, even though her windows were closed.  The voice then spoke.  I am you, and you are me.  Just give it time, and you will see.

Jill sighed and quietly scowled.  “Why can’t I get rid of the leaf?”

A stronger breeze began to blow on Jill.  I warned you, the voice told her.  I told you to return the golden leaf to the forest, where you found it, but you didn’t.  You wanted this leaf so bad, so now it’s yours.  You will find it to be quite enjoyable, so don’t worry.

“Don’t worry?” Jill said with a frown.  “What do you mean by that?  I can’t get rid of this stupid leaf!”

The voice laughed.  Why would you want to get rid of something that is yours?  You wanted the leaf so bad, so now I am giving it to you as a gift.  Now calm down and please accept the gift….

Jill gave a sigh of resentment and nodded.  “I’ll accept the gift, but first tell me who you are.”

The wind blew around Jill in a sweeping motion, as if it were tickling her.  As this continued, Jill began to giggle.  The girl’s voice spoke again.  I already told you.  I am you, and you are me.  Just give it time, and you will see.

The wind continued tickling Jill and she giggled louder.  “Stop it!” she shouted with laughter.

At her request, the wind died down.  Jill couldn’t figure out the riddle.  On top of that, she was tired, so she decided to sleep on it.  She grabbed the golden leaf and held it in her hand.  Maybe this leaf wasn’t going to be so bad after all.  She felt secure and safe when she held it.  Before she fell asleep, she placed the golden leaf in the top of her pajamas.  Right after this, she fell asleep.

As she slept, the same thing happened as the night before.  Her pajamas glowed with the light emanating from the leaf.  The glow then emanated from the covers and finally into the entire room.  Jill then glowed, with a faint whisper coming from the wind.

Sleep on, Jill.  Things will get better very soon.  Don’t worry….

And the gentle wind remained with Jill, dancing with the golden glow of radiance in the room for the rest of the night….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Part IV

The Golden Leaf: Part IV

Over the next few days, Jill began feeling more and more different.  For each day that she woke up, she noticed this.  She also noticed that her bed was filled with leaves.  Every time this occurred, she opened the window and blew them all out.  The way that she talked began to change slightly and her hair began to subtly change to gold and orange.  The numerous colors on her dress were faded, but were gradually beginning to show.

As for the golden leaf, it never left Jill’s side.  She took it everywhere with her, keeping it tucked away in the top of her dress.  This leaf was becoming more and more a part of Jill, and she knew it.

Contrary to last week, when Jill fought all these changes, she graciously welcomed them.  As the colors of the leaves were changing, so was Jill.

While her mother and everyone else didn’t really notice it that much, Jaime was the only one that really noticed.

One day, Jaime confronted Jill again about the golden leaf.  This was on a Saturday, in the backyard of Jill’s house, near the forest.

“Jill,” Jaime told her.  “I think I know what’s going on with that leaf that you have.  I talked to my grandmother last week.  After talking to her about the golden leaf, I realized that the story came from her.”

“What do you know about it?” Jill said, sighing.  Jill sighed because she really didn’t want to be bothered with something that she already knew.  The thing was that Jill didn’t know how she got this knowledge.  Whatever it was, it had to do with the golden leaf that she had.

“Well, this is what my grandma told me,” Jaime continued.  “She said that her mother had a golden leaf just like yours and that her hair looked very much like yours.  Long and colorful.  Her clothes were also colorful like that.  She told me that her dress contained every color of autumn. “

While Jaime was speaking, a golden flash came from her dress.

Despite the changes that were going on, Jill was still curious about the story.  “What was your great-grandmother’s name?”

Jaime thought for a moment.  “Oh.” she said.  “Her name?  Grandma told me that she changed her name.  Her original name was Eleanor.  But after that, she told me that her name was different.  It was after she had the golden leaf for a while.  She changed her name to Autumn.”

Jill’s dress flashed again.

“Wait!” Jaime gasped.  “Is the leaf flashing because I’m saying the word ‘Autumn’?”

The flash occurred once again.

Jaime gasped.  “Jill.  You have the golden leaf, just like my great-grandma….That means….”

Jill nodded.  “I really like the name ‘Autumn’, but I’m fine with my name right now.”

“Don’t change your name,” Jaime pleaded.  “That golden leaf is doing to you what it did to my great-grandma.  Try to give up that leaf while you can, Jill.”

Jill sadly shook her head.  “I can’t and I won’t,” she said.  “The golden leaf is a part of me now.  Even if I were to try to get rid of it, it will refuse to let me.”

Jaime shook her head and gulped back a tear.  “No Jill….”

“It’s too late,” Jill told her.  “I took what didn’t belong to me.  I wanted this golden leaf so bad, but was unaware of the consequences.  Now this leaf has accepted me, and I, in turn, accept it.  These changes are amazing, and I look forward to the end result….”

“No they’re not!”  Jaime shouted.  “You’re becoming the same thing my great-grandmother was!  Please Jill….I will be talking to my grandmother tomorrow.  I will tell her about you.  Hang in there, Jill….”

Jaime sadly left, walking back toward her house.

Over the next couple weeks, Jill’s hair radically changed.  Her hair remained the same length, no matter how much her mother cut it.  This got her mother’s attention.

“W-what’s happening to you?” Her mother said, gasping.

Jill smiled.  “Something amazing.” she told her.  “That’s what.  Why would you want to cut my beautiful hair? Just leave it as it is.”

The mother, looking a little afraid, nodded.  “Will do, honey….”

From there, the changes continued.  Faster and faster they happened.  In the next week,  something happened with Jill’s outfits.  Her mother wanted her to wear something that wasn’t an autumn-colored dress.  So Jill put on a pink dress.  After showing her mother the dress, it changed before her very eyes into the autumn colors again.  Her mother shook her head in disbelief, and told her to try a different one.  Jill put on a lavender dress.  Jill knew the end result, but she was only doing this to please her mother.  The lavender dress reverted to autumn again.

The mother shuddered in fear.  “What is responsible for this?  Fairies?  Elves? Nymphs?”  Her mother asked this, because she read and studied various mythologies, regarding remembered and forgotten lore from all over the world.

“One of them is right.” Jill told her.  “Which one that is, I’ll leave that for you to decide.”

The mother was a little scared, but she still wanted Jill in a different dress.  Going upstairs to Jill’s room, she made sure that it was different this time.  Opening up all the wardrobes, her mother found that all of her dresses were the same autumn color.

“Fairies are doing this!” the mother cried.  With that, she screamed and ran out of the room.

After she was gone, Jill grinned.  “She’s wrong,” Jill said with a nod.

While all these changes were going on, another thing her mother noticed was her drop in school attendance.  Jill spent less time at school and more time in the forest.  This concerned her mother, who wondered what was going on with Jill.

Every morning now, Jill’s entire room was filled with leaves.  Jill dismissed them like before, outside the window.

After the change with Jill’s outfits, the last thing that changed about Jill was her appearance.  Her complexion changed, and so did her eyes.  Her once fair complexion became more golden and her brown eyes became amber-colored.  At this point, Jill no longer took the golden leaf out of her dress.  The golden leaf was now grafted to her body.  A network of barely visible roots surrounded it, branching out in every direction.  The largest noticeable change was in her size.  Before the change, Jill was a fair build, and about average height for her age.  Jill now was six inches shorter and scrawny.  Her arms and legs were like twigs.  To say that she was petite would be an understatement.

Jill was in the forest, which she secretly called her new home.  She raised her hands and lowered them.  This caused a multitude of leaves of various colors to rain down on the forest floor.  It was nothing but color.  The colored leafy parachutes all slowly drifted down in formation, downward until they rested on the ground below.

As the leaves were falling, Jill danced, immersing herself in the myriad of colors in the now whirling maelstrom of foliage.  When her dance ended, all the leaves grouped together and fell to the ground.

After this, Jill left the forest.  In the distance, she saw Jaime standing there.

When Jaime saw her, she almost started to cry.

“Jill….” she gasped.  “I haven’t seen you in several days, and you look like this?”

Jill, pleasant with everything she saw about herself, nodded.  “It’s almost done,” she grinned.

Jaime fought back tears, but she couldn’t help it.  “I talked with my grandma,” she sobbed.  “After talking to her, everything is clear now.  What’s scary is that you look exactly like my great-grandmother.  Why Jill?”

“Why not?” Jill responded.  “It’s beyond my control now.  I just let the changes happen.  You should be happy for me.  It’s almost complete.”

“What more can possibly change about you?” Jaime wailed.  “Your mom hasn’t seen you in days!  I talked to her about you and what my grandma told me.  She knows the whole story about the golden leaf and she understands now.”

“What’s left?” Jill said, beaming.  “To be honest, I’m really starting to get tired of this name.  It really doesn’t fit me much anymore.  It moreso fits who I used to be.  Now, what name would best fit me now?”

Jill raised her hands, causing a multitude of leaves to spin around her in various directions.  “Can you think of a name, Jaime?” All the colors in Jill’s dress flashed very brightly.

Jaime was now sobbing her eyes out.  “Autumn?” she cried.  “No Jill!  Don’t do it!”

Jill’s smile widened.  “Autumn?” she stated.  “If you were to ask me before, I would tell you that I really like this name.  Now, I can tell you that I absolutely love it.  The name describes me very well.  My name is now Autumn.  If you call me by my old name, I will turn you into a leaf.  Now could you please repeat my name for me?”

Jaime was now sniffling.  “Your name is J…..I mean, Autumn.”

Autumn smiled.  “Isn’t it a nice name?  It’s now done.  My transformation is now complete.  I will now pay my mother a visit.”

Jill walked towards her house.  To clarify, her name is still Jill, since her mother doesn’t know her as Autumn yet.

After entering the house, her mother had a long conversation with Jill.  A lot of it was her reiterating what Jaime told her.

“Get rid of that leaf,” her mother insisted.  “You are not my sweet Jill anymore. Somewhere inside….you are!” And then she started crying.

“Should I get rid of my heart, too?”  Jill asked.  “The leaf is now part of me now.  To get rid of it would be eliminating my source of life.  I have undergone a beautiful transformation.  Now leaving my cocoon, I am now Autumn.  Say the name proudly.  I know you’ll love it.”

“No!” Her mother shouted.  “You are always going to be my sweet Jill to me, no matter how different you look….”

For the next several days, Jill kept pleading with her mother.

“Please mom!” Jill insisted.  “My name is now Autumn!  Jill doesn’t describe me anymore!”

“Jill DOES describe you because I gave you that name when you were born!” her mother countered.

The days passed, and Jill continued pleading.  She was relentless, never losing any strength.  Her mother, however, was losing her strength more and more by the day.

Finally, her mother admitted defeat.

“Call me Autumn,” Jill pleaded.

Her mother broke.  “Okay okay!” she shouted.  “You’re Autumn now!  Okay, Autumn?”

Autumn grinned.  The next day, her mother took Autumn to get her name legally changed.  Her mother cried as she saw the name “Jill” get deleted.  The name was now replaced with “Autumn”.

“Thanks, mom!” Autumn said with a grin.  “I’m going home now.”

Of course, Autumn should’ve told her mother what she meant when she said that she was going home.  Autumn skipped merrily into the forest.  With only a few days remaining until December, she didn’t have much time.

“Now, I will return it.”  Autumn said, nodding.

Autumn reached into her dress and grasped the golden leaf that was grafted to her body.  All of the network of barely visible roots disappeared.  After this, the golden leaf was just like before.

Upon removing it, a golden outline of the leaf was imprinted on her body, resting where the leaf was.

Autumn took the golden leaf and let it rest in the palm of her hands.  “You’re back,” she told it.  “Back where you belong.  In this forest, resting under the same type of tree where I was imprisoned hundreds of years ago….”

Autumn then recalled the riddle that was told to her when she was still Jill:

I am you, and you are me.

Just give it time, and you will see.

“I’m glad I did,” Autumn said with a smile.  “I was stubborn at first, but now I graciously welcome you.  You were in Eleanor before.  Now, you are in me.  You gave us new bodies and new names.  I will use this name wisely and will not disappoint you.”

Autumn took a deep breath and blew at the leaves that rested at the base of the tall tree.  From her breath came a strong wind that blew all the leaves away until it was just soil and old grass.  She then stared at the golden leaf and sighed.  “Farewell, my golden tomb.” she told it.  “I will see you again on the first day of Autumn.”

At that, Autumn sat the golden leaf down and used her gale force breath to cover the leaf again.

The days went by and got colder.  Autumn stood there, jealously guarding the golden leaf.  She blended in well with the forest.  So well that no one would see her, even if you were to look directly at her.

Finally, the days of winter were fast approaching.  At this, Autumn sighed.

“I am exhausted,” Autumn gasped.  “I will rest during the long winter, and will awaken in the spring.

And that’s what Autumn did.  She lied down and threw her hands back.  A large pile of leaves covered her, like a blanket.  Her face materialized into leaves and she rested.

As Autumn rested, a faint glint of light was visible underneath the sparkling snow.  The snow blanketed the leaves and all of the forest.  Autumn was now asleep, with her dreams beginning to fill the white forest….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Part V

The Golden Leaf: Part V

A thick gust of snow began to fill the forest.  The frigid air blew and howled.  The visibility was almost zero.  With that, winter was officially underway.

One day in January, a cry was heard in the forest.  It was Autumn’s mother, bundled up, looking for her daughter.

“Autumn!” The mother cried.  “Where are you, honey!”  The mother dared not say the name “Jill” after what Jaime told her.  “Autumn dear!  Jaime told me that you lived out here now.  Where are you?!  Helloooo!!!!”

The mother’s voice echoed into the dark, cold forest.  Her voice was lost in the wind.  Lost to the blasts of cold air and snow.

As the mother was leaving, a warm gust blew over her face.  She knew that this was Autumn, since the air was not cold.

Meanwhile, Autumn slept on.  In one of her dreams, she saw her mother entering the snow covered forest.  When she saw her, she smiled.  “I’m still here, mom.  Don’t worry….”

The mother exited the forest.  During that whole winter, this was the only time that she ever entered the forest.

Several months passed and autumn finally arrived again.  During the spring, Autumn awakened.  With life in the forest beginning anew, she began guarding the golden leaf.  In her new form, Autumn never ate.  Sunlight was her nourishment.  She drank it in like water until she had her fill.  She especially did this during the summertime, where she continued guarding the golden leaf.   It just wasn’t her time yet.  For nine months out of the year, it never was.

With it being autumn again, the time has finally come again.  Autumn used her gale force breath to reveal the golden leaf.  She then picked it up and held it in her hand.

“Welcome back, my golden tomb….” She said, with a smile of delight.

Autumn placed the golden leaf inside the top of her dress, matching it into the golden outline of the leaf imprinted on her body.  After placing it there, the leaf grafted to her body again, forming a network of barely visible roots branching out in every direction.  A strong gale of wind blew around her and a golden aura emanated from her.

Suddenly, Autumn heard a gasp.

“Autumn?”

Autumn then saw her mother come out from behind the tree.

“There you are,” Autumn said.  “Did you feel the wind? That was me.  When it blew on you, I felt your presence.”

The mother looked at Autumn, who was short with long orange and golden hair.  She wore an autumn colored dress with leafy sandals.  “Autumn?” she gasped.

Autumn looked at her body, which was still brightly flashing.  “You saw me with the golden leaf.  Isn’t it wonderful?”  She then looked at her mother.  She saw the longing in her eyes.  “I’ll be out shortly, but not for long.  I belong in the forest.”

The mother gasped.  “But what about….”

“Don’t worry,” Autumn assured her.  “I will require a mate when I become an adult.  Bring him here at the appointed time.  Don’t worry about him not loving me.  I have placed a spell on him so that he will.”

With that, Autumn spent a short time with her mother outside the forest.  It was a brief conversation, and very few words were said. After the conversation, they hugged.

“Farewell mother,” Autumn told her.  “I must return to the forest.  You may visit me there whenever you like.

Autumn returned to the forest, causing various trees to drop their leaves simultaneously.

Looking at the panoramic view of various colors of leaves in the distance, Autumn smiled.  “My days in the forest will be until this body expires,” Autumn said, with a pleasant sigh.  “After that, I will return to my golden vessel, which will dissolve into the forest.  I will then be with the next golden leaf.  From now, only 99 more years until the next golden leaf is born…..”

Meanwhile, a faint sound could be heard deep inside of Autumn.  Well, it wasn’t really a faint sound.  It was actually a sound of someone screaming and crying.  But the screams and cries were happening so deep inside her that it would only be heard as a faint sound.

Somewhere, very deep inside of Autumn, Jill was crying.  She was literally a prisoner in her own mind.  Autumn was in complete control, and was unwilling to release her.

“Let me go!” Jill screamed for what seemed like the one millionth time.  Her screaming, however, was in vain.  There was no one to hear her.  No wardens, no guards.  Not a single person.   Autumn did a good job in cleaning out Jill’s mind.

The scariest part about this was that Jill didn’t even know what was going on.  She couldn’t even see with her own eyes or hear with her own ears.  She was forever bound in her own mental prison, rotting away as a figment of her own imagination.  If she were to go totally mad, she would actually believe that she was someone totally made up by Autumn.

But Jill still had her sanity, and she would keep it as long as she could.  And she continued screaming, hoping someone could hear her….

Back at the surface, Autumn was completely unaware of any voices in her head.  As Autumn sat there that night, a blinding flash happened.  The flash was a sphere, materializing in the flashing light.

When Autumn saw this sphere, it sent chills down her spine.  “No.” She said in disbelief.  “Not that….”

The flashing faded from the sphere.  The sphere was transparent, with a flashy white outer coat.  When the flashing completely faded, a hologram of a girl wearing a white dress, holding a golden leaf projected from the sphere.

“To the one originally called Jill,” the girl began.  “This message is for you.  From researching my ancestors, I have found that you are my great-grandmother.  In looking at your history, I have found that we share the same fate.  Autumn has already tainted you, and she is beginning to do the same with me.  I have found this golden leaf, and I wish that I never had.  It is her vessel.  This is what she told me.”

“Now I know that your name is not Jill anymore since she renamed you with her name.  She has not done this with me yet, which is why I am acting quickly.  While I am still in my right mind, I am executing a last-ditch effort to change history.  That sphere that you see before you is an egg.  Now I need you to enter that egg.  It is the only way that you can kill Autumn.  Your body, however will die with her.”

“But don’t think this is the end.  In place of your old body, the egg will hatch and your new body will be born.  It will be just like your old body, only you won’t have Autumn inside you anymore.”

“Please take heed, Jill.  Autumn will not stand anywhere near that egg, for she fears its power.  But you must fight her.  Fight like you’ve never fought before.  I know you can win.”

“Well, my mind is beginning to fail me.  I am beginning to feel her influence even stronger now as I’m recording this.  I hope that this egg and this message gets to your time period.  I love you very much and I hope that this ripple that I’m creating is enough to effect time.  Your great-granddaughter, Margaret.”

Autumn backed away in fear.  “How?” She gasped.  “Where did he….”

With a shriek of fear, Autumn blew herself away to the farthest end of the forest.  The end farthest away from the mysterious egg.

Meanwhile, the egg remained there, sparkling and glowing, as it sat surrounded in a sea of colorful foliage…..

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn

Margaret sat in her room on her bed, holding what looked like some black box.  Letting out a deep sigh, she spoke into it.

“Record,” she instructed the box.

“Margaret’s Video Diary,” Margaret spoke.  “Friday, October 14, 2112.  1:04 p.m.  It is official.  I have officially died of boredom.”

At that point, Margaret almost burst into tears, but she held her composure.  “What’s a nine-year old like me supposed to do when there’s no one to play with?  I have uploaded all my lessons for today and watched all the required lessons.  All of my homework for the weekend is already done and has been sent to the Greenville Elementary Learning Network Server.  This neighborhood has no other kids that I can become friends with.  There are students, but they are all much older than me, and would rather not associate with a ‘kid’ like me.”

Margaret pounded her fist into her comforter.  She then crossed her arms on her lavender dress and pouted.  The tears, one by one, began flowing down her face.  She was so upset that she forgot that she was recording.  By the time she realized this, her dress was slightly damp with tears.  Her face reddened in embarrassment.

“Excuse me,” Margaret said, crying.  “End recording.”

Margaret than heard a knock on the door.  “Come in,” she whimpered, as she brought her face to her knees.

The door opened, and her mother, Lily stood there wearing a dress that was similar to Margaret’s.  The dress also reflected Lily’s stature.  When she saw Margaret, she was greatly surprised.  “What’s wrong, Margaret dear?”

Margaret buried her face in her hands and continued weeping.  “I am extremely bored, mother.”

The mother sat down beside Margaret and gave her a pat on her shoulder.  “There there, sweetheart.  There’s plenty to do around here.  Have you completed all your homework, and lessons for the day?”

Margaret gave a soft nod.  And continued crying.  Her eye contact was directed at her feet, away from her mother.  “I don’t have any friends, mother.  And the older students don’t want to be friends with me.”

Her mother sighed, and looked at her daughter.  There was no face for her to look at.  Just a large unkempt strand of brown hair.  Margaret was now looking downward, at her dress and her knees.  She patted her daughter again.  “Look at me honey, and stop crying.” she pleaded.

Margaret sighed and looked up.  She saw her mother, staring at her.  She felt a sense of longing coming from her.  “Oh mother!” she cried.  And then she threw her arms around her mother and gripped her in tight embrace.

Her mother smiled.  “There we go, Margaret dear.” she said, using a soft tone.  “Now you tell me that you’re bored.  What about your video games?”

Margret released her embrace and shook her head.  “I have already played every single game that is approved for someone my age,” she told her.  “Every single one bores me now.”

At that statement, her mother was speechless.  Margaret too, had no words to say, until a troubling thought entered her mind.

“Why doesn’t daddy ever come home?” Margaret complained.  “He’s always on business and he’s never around!”

Her mother nodded, and she hugged her daughter again.  “I miss him too, honey.  But remember.  He doesn’t want to know that you’re unhappy.  If you should be happy for anyone, be happy for him.”

Margaret nodded and sighed.  “I’ll try.  But it won’t be easy with nothing to do.”

The mother gasped, and then smiled.  It was as if a light bulb went off in her head.  “I just thought of something, my dear.” she told her daughter.  “Why don’t you play outside?  I heard that children used to do this a long time ago.”

“But mother,” Margaret sighed.  “Where would I play?  In pretty much every public area, playing is prohibited.  Just recently, they demolished the last playground in the city, because no one showed any interest playing in it.”

But her mother continued to smile, completely unmoved by what her daughter said.  “I know that, honey.” she said.  “But I’m not referring to those areas.  What I had in mind is that Forest Sanctuary.  From my understanding, you can still play in a spot like that.”

Margaret gave her a strange look.  “By myself?  Who would I play with?”

“Use your imagination.” she told her.  “When I was little, I had an imaginary friend named Lissie.  Me and Lissie did everything together.  Of course we parted ways eventually, but she was definitely fun to play with.”

Margaret nodded.  “It sounds weird, but I’ll give it a try, mother.  I’ll be back later!”

Her mother stood up and got out a black box like Margaret’s.  “Okay.  Be back at 6:30.  Set alarm ‘6:30 p.m.’ to Margaret’s Multitasker. Have fun, honey!”

Margaret nodded, and left her room.   Her mother followed her, then walked into the master bedroom.

After Margaret left her room, she approached the landing.  From the landing was a spiral staircase leading down to the living room, which led into the great room.  Margraret went down the stairs, walked through the great room and exited the house.

Margaret walked down the street to the end of the subdivision.  The lights were on in various houses, with everyone unwilling to leave them.  She approached an intersection, where a teleporter sat.  Across the street led to another subdivision.  To her left, the street led on, with more subdivisions branching on either side, until it eventually turned into local businesses.  To her right, it was pretty much the same thing, only that street eventually led downtown.

Margaret found the coordinates to the Forest Sanctuary and scanned them into the teleporter.  After the scan, the teleporter automatically entered the coordinates.

She was about to teleport when some older guy approached her.  To her, he looked like a high-schooler.

“Where are you going, miss?” he asked her.

Margaret hesitated, and then sighed.  “My mother always told me to never talk to strangers,” she boldly asserted.”

The guy looked at her and laughed.  “Really?” he shouted.  “That is so old-fashioned!  Now look.  You can trust me.  I’m not like those hoodlums at night.  Where are you going?”

At this point, Margaret was getting impatient.  Giving in, she let out a sigh.  “Okay.” she told him.  “I’m going to the Forest Sanctuary.”

The high-schooler laughed again.  “You’re going THERE?  Nobody goes to that boring place.  I’m going to the abandoned mall, so I can see where people used to shop.  Later!”

At that, the high-schooler scanned in his location with his Multitasker and pressed the button.  The teleporter enveloped him in a beam and he was gone.

Margaret shrugged her shoulders and pressed the button on the teleporter.  In just a split-second, she appeared downtown, in a busy plaza.  The Forest Sanctuary was nearby, which everyone walked past.

Margaret approached the Forest Sanctuary.  It was inside a large glass dome, which covered even the tallest tree.  Surrounded by the 300 acres of domed forest was the city.  Highrises and various skyscrapers dwarfed over it.

Margaret entered the Forest Sanctuary.  From what she learned in her history lessons, she was well aware that trees were becoming more and more scarce in the world today.  With urbanization happening everywhere, a measure was taken to protect the forests that still remained.  With the Forest Haven Act, which was passed in 2073, every city was required to set aside a designated haven of trees.  This would prevent America’s supply of trees from going extinct.

As she walked around, she smiled.  For a second, she forgot that there was even a city around her.  She suddenly remembered when she looked up and saw the skyscrapers that stood much higher than the dome.

For the next few hours, Margaret played in the forest.  Since she had no friends, she took her mother’s advice.  She made up her own.  With her “friends”, she jumped into the colorful leaves that dropped from the various trees around her.

Margaret then approached a very tall tree.  It was taller than all the others, with gnarled branches and gnarled roots.  As she was doing this, her alarm went off.  All of her imaginary friends left her and she was left alone, face to face with a giant tree.

After taking it in for a while, Margaret began to leave, but something made her stop.  It was a flash.  A flash that came from a large pile of leaves at the base of the tree.

Curiosity got the best of Margaret, so she got down on her knees and began digging through the pile, scattering as many leaves as she could.

After scattering a few more clumps of leaves, Margaret found it.  The flash was coming from a golden leaf.  One that flashed its new glow brightly and proudly.  What a discovery!

Margaret lifted up the leaf and let it rest in the palm of her left hand.  The flash came out of the leaf again.  This time, it was brighter.  It was as if the flash was granting her approval.  The flash continued, glowing brighter and brighter until it covered her body…..

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part II

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?”

“Your grandmother.”

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