Think & Write #112

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part V

Autumn looked around at the surrounding suburbs.  “Why stop here?” she gleefully smiled.  “I can remodel all these other ugly places too.  Why, I should’ve done this 100 years ago….”

Her destruction continued.  Autumn raised her hands, causing large groups of trees to spring up, destroying entire neighborhoods.  When she got to Cypress Street, she smiled.

“Ah,” she sighed.  “My old house.  Well, Margaret’s at least.  Thank you for the body, sweetie….”  Autumn raised her hand, causing an enormous tree to spring right through the house.

Meanwhile,  a very faint sound was buzzing deep inside of Autumn.  It was deep inside her subconscious.  Now, the sound was actually very loud.  But to Autumn, she could barely hear it.  It was the sound of shouting and screaming.  And crying.  But with this noise being generated at the subconscious level, Autumn was hardly aware of it.

Inside of Autumn’s subconscious, Margaret was shouting and crying.  “Give me my body back!” she screamed.  “Why can’t you hear me?  When I break though, you are totally going to regret it….”

Margaret screamed and shouted, until she couldn’t scream and shout anymore.  She sat down and sulked.  “I hope that Jill got my message,” she said very sadly.  “Jill, please enter that egg.  You are my only hope….”

After that, Margaret started to cry.  Her crying became bawling.  Her bawling became wailing.  Her eyes were flooded with tears, with her cries echoing through time….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #111

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part IV

Margaret woke up, covered in a pile of leaves.  This left her in a state of bewilderment.  There was not a single tree anywhere in the city, except for the Forest Sanctuary, which she visited yesterday.

When she saw the bright light emanating from the golden leaf that she was holding, it made sense.  It was her.  The one who called herself Autumn that was doing this.  Margaret, with the strongest conviction inside of her, knew that this was true.

Margaret went to the window and opened it.  Right after she did this, the golden leaf became brighter and created a strong gale that blew all the leaves out of her room, save the mysteriously enchanted leaf.  When all the leaves were gone, she closed the window.

Her next trip was to the bathroom.  She grabbed her clothes for the day and set them in the bathroom, placing the golden leaf on top of them.  Upon looking at the mirror, something puzzled her.  “My hair!” she gasped.  “Why is it all gold and orange?  It’s also longer than what I had it!  Is this the kind of hair that Autumn prefers?”

Margaret stared at the mirror with a sly look.  “Two can play that game,” she said quietly.  “Using her same powers. I’ll turn it back.”  And with the power of her will, her hair shortened to its normal length and changed back to brown.

Margaret showered, humming a happy tune as she usually did.  After she showered and clothed herself, she began thinking about Autumn.  “That leaf gave me weird dreams last night,” she said to herself.  “I also feel different.  I can’t let her control me….”

Margaret picked up the golden leaf and placed it in her white dress.  “You are going back to the Forest Sanctuary,” she told it.

After getting her hair in a ponytail, Margaret was all ready.  She walked downstairs and approached the door.  Her mother was sitting on the couch, organizing her to-do list on her Multitasker.

“Mother,” she announced,  “I’m going back to the Forest Sanctuary to return the leaf.”

Her mother smiled, giving her a nod of approval.  “Okay honey.  Get rid of that leaf, okay?”

Margaret nodded.  “Okay mother!”

Saying goodbye, Margaret left the house and went back to the Forest Sanctuary, taking the same way as yesterday.  After entering, she went to the same place where she found the golden leaf – underneath the tall tree with gnarled roots and branches.

Margaret reached into her dress and pulled out the golden leaf.  As she tried to release it, the leaf stuck to her hand.  She then put the leaf into her other hand and tried thrusting it as hard as she could.  The leaf remained on her hand.  It would not part from it, no matter how hard she tried.

At that point, she heard a voice that sounded like the wind. You silly girl…. Autumn whispered.  Do you think that I would actually change my mind?  I have made my decision.  You are the next one that I will use.  Being a descendant from your great-grandmother, you are like family to me, and the most suitable place to live.  Be a nice girl for me, okay?  Your great-grandmother was….

“My great-grandmother had no choice!” Margaret shouted.  “You took that choice away from her!”  Her anger began to intensify, but when she saw the golden leaf, it all seemed to vanish, like a distant memory.  “This leaf is too beautiful for me to part with.  What was I thinking?”  Margaret gently lifted the leaf up, and placed it back inside her dress.

Margaret, disappointed, went back home.  Autumn was happy that Margaret had the leaf in her possession.  Margaret, however, wasn’t.

As Margaret entered the door, her mother stood up.  “So, did you get rid of it?” she asked her.

Margaret was worried.  But that worry immediately transformed into a joyous passion.  Margaret eagerly took the golden leaf out of her dress, proudly displaying it to her mother.  “No mother,” she said.  “I couldn’t.  This leaf is far too precious for me to part with.”

Lily, her mother, shook her head.  “Far too precious for Autumn, right?” she said, raising her voice.

Fighting back, Margaret broke down.  “Yes mother,” she sadly admitted.  “This Autumn is starting to get to my mind.  I am not feeling myself.  Really! I’m not!”

Her mother nodded, looking increasingly worried.  “I can see that, honey.  Read those diaries while you can.  There may be hope for you.  Hope for a better future.  Hurry!”

Margaret nodded, fighting Autumn as much as she could.  “Right away mother!  I will read them right away!”

The conversation abruptly ended after that.  Margaret sprinted upstairs.  She still had her wits about her, but knew that this was only borrowed time.  Time that would not be wasted.

Once upstairs, Margaret ran to the end of the hallway.  From being up there with her mother in the past, she knew how to get up to the attic.  She pressed a button, that was hidden behind an old portrait.   This activated a compartment, which opened up to reveal a ladder.  The ladder folded downward until it reached the floor.  Margaret then climbed the ladder and entered the attic.

Sitting in the corner of the attic was an old desk.  The old desk was a mess, with diaries laying all over the place.  There were diaries on the desk and diaries on the floor, all caked with dust.

With so many diaries to leaf through, Margaret didn’t know where to begin.  For her, it would make the most sense to start where the earliest year was.  She quickly arranged the diaries into small stacks, from earliest to most recent.  She began with the earliest one, titled “Maple’s Diary – 2048”.

Margaret leafed through every page, trying to find a date that dealt with her great-grandmother.  She came across a page dated “March 22, 2048”.  Margaret read:

March 22, 2048

My mother has just awakened from her long winter nap.  My father just got back from the forest and told me this.  Why is her naps so long?  When I used to take naps, they were never that long.  When I asked my father about this, he told me that she needs naps like this because she’s special.

My mother spends half of the year living in the forest.  Why does she live in the forest?  I know that other mothers don’t live in the forest.  I told my other friends about this and they said that their mother lives with them.  They’re lucky to have normal mothers because I don’t feel like my mother is normal.

My father said that we will be visiting my mother tomorrow.  I am so excited to see her.  He also said that she will be staying with us until late September, when autumn begins.

I miss mother, and I have a lot of questions for her when she comes to stay with me and father.

That’s all I have to say for today.   Until tomorrow, my dear diary!

Maple

Margaret read on, leafing through the pages quickly.  She found another page that stood out. She read again:

April 3, 2048

Dear diary,

I am right.  My mother is not normal.  I am starting to get tired of asking all the questions.  Whenever I ask her about living in the forest or her long naps, she gives me the same answer as my father.  She’s special.  But what makes her so special?

I also asked her about her name.  When I asked her, she said that her name was Autumn.  It’s really a strange name, since none of the girls that I know at school have that name. 

Well, my not normal mother is calling me again. Don’t worry, diary.  We will meet again.

Always yours,

Maple

Margaret leafed through the rest of the diary, and leafed through a few more.  She then came across a page dated “June 15, 2055”.  Margaret read:

June 15, 2055

Dear diary,

The journey continues in learning the truth about my mother.  But I’m happy to say that I found someone who will help me a lot in that journey.  It’s an older woman named Jaime.  She’s the same age as my mother and she knows a lot about what happened to her.  Hopefully, things will make sense after I talk to her again.  She lives down the street from me, in the same house as my mother.  Well, my mother and father are on a date, and Jaime is coming over here.  Be back later, diary!

Well, I talked to Jaime.  I’m totally blown away with what she told me.  My mother’s real name is actually Jill, and she found this golden leaf when both her and Jaime were nine.  Since she had it, Jaime said that it transformed her into this mysterious woman named Autumn.  Everything that she told me makes sense now.

Well, sort of.  I’m still trying to sort it all out in my head.  I wish that there was something that I could do to help my mother.

I gotta go now, diary!  My mother’s calling me.  I can’t tell her about “the meeting”.  We will meet again tomorrow!

Yours forever,

Maple

On and on Margaret read.  After a few more diaries, she came across something totally shocking.  The page was dated “January 21, 2059”.  Margaret read:

January 21, 2059

Dear diary,

It is now the middle of the night, and I just had this really strange dream.  In this dream, a voice was telling me to build a strange device.  The voice said that this device would help my mother, and that one of my ancestors would be the one to save her.

I found it quite strange to have this dream tonight.  It has been exactly one month since my mother began her winter nap.  I am guessing that I had the dream now so that my mother doesn’t know.

After thinking about it, I know that this dream is definitely from God.  I have been praying and praying for a way to save my mother.  Tonight, I can say that my prayers have been answered.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin on this strange device.  From the blueprint that the voice explained to me, this is going to take a very long time to finish.  I will work on it during the fall and winter months, when mother is not living here.

On another note, finishing my psychology degree will not be necessary anymore, since I just met this lovely man who is pursuing his Ph.D. in psychology.  He is very bright and seems to like me a lot. More on all this tomorrow.  Love ya, diary!

Yours always,

Maple

Margaret leafed through the diaries.  Most of them had to do with her progress on the device and her conversations with her mother.  Over time, she learned that Maple’s mother was getting more and more suspicious, forcing Maple to be more and more cautious on the device that she was working on.

She then came across another entry that sent chills down her spine.  The date read “October 24, 2085”.  Margaret read:

October 24, 2085

Dear diary,

It just happened.  My mother is gone.  After she died, her body went into the golden leaf.  The golden leaf then vanished, materializing into traces of golden light.  From all the information I’ve gathered over the years, it has been 73 years since that leaf appeared.  The next one will appear in 27 more years, at the very spot I’m standing.

Right now, my daughter Lily is in bed.  I will not tell her about this until I am ready to.

As I am writing this, I am starting to worry.  When my mother was alive, I called her Jill ever since I found out her real name.  Before she died, she cast a spell on me.  It was a spell to turn me into a leaf.  She didn’t say when the spell would happen.  All she said was that one day, I would be turned into a leaf.

Well, I’m not going to let this bother me.  I will continue working on the egg.  Well, that’s what the device is starting to look like, at least.  I am almost done with it.  There are just some hard to find materials.  Once I find them, I can finish this egg.

My mother has lived a long hopeless life as Autumn’s puppet.  82 years have been lived, with 73 of them being stolen from her.  I am hoping that either Lily or her child can send this egg back to the past.  Only then will my mother have a better future.

It is too much for me, diary.  Goodnight!

Tearfully always yours,

Maple

Margaret began to tear up, as she read through the remaining diaries.  She finally came to the last one.  The date read “September 30, 2103”.  Full of tears, Margaret read:

September 30, 2103

Dear diary,

I have finally done it.  The egg is finished.  I will tell Lily when I return from the forest.  I go here everyday to visit my mother.  While her body may not be here, I can feel her presence.  It is not Autumn, but her.  I know it. 

Now, it is very important that either she or her daughter send it back to the past.  Lily told me that she was pregnant, and was ready to have her daughter.  When she is ready to have her, I will visit.  I look forward to hearing the g

And that was the last thing that Maple wrote.  The entry was not even finished, something that really troubled Margaret.

The one thing that troubled Margaret even more was the date.  After studying the date, it hit her.  September 30, 2103 was the exact date that she was born.

Margaret frantically looked around in the attic for the egg.  Hopefully, it would be here, considering her current house was different than Maple’s.  In the far end of the attic by the window, Margaret found something that was covered in a large sheet of plastic.  Margaret removed the plastic.  There the egg sat.  On its interior, it looked like some kind of cockpit.  The egg was translucent on the inside with a polished white sheen on the outside.

Upon touching the egg, it lit up, like some sophisticated machine.  A holographic display then came out of the egg, displaying some words and numbers.

“Please enter date, time and location?” Margaret read.  “October 21, 2012.  5:47 p.m.” Margaret than entered the exact coordinates for the tall tree as it was listed on her Multiasker.

After entering the coordinates, one more message appeared.  It read “Record your message.  Say ‘begin recording’ when you are ready.”

Knowing that she was running out of time, Margaret quickly thought about her message.  While she did this, she reached into her white dress and pulled out the golden leaf.  Finally, she was ready.  “Record message.” Margaret ordered.

“To the one originally called Jill,” Margaret 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.”

Just as the last word left her mouth, the egg immediately vanished.

“Where is that wretched egg?” Margaret screamed.  “I need to destroy it!”

Margaret then shook her head.  “No Autumn!” she shouted.  “I did the right thing, and history is going to be changed because of it!”

Once again, Margaret continued fighting Autumn.  “No!  I will not….let you….con…trol…..m….eee……”

And just like that, Margaret transformed.  Her hair extended and became orange and gold.  Her body shrunk a few inches and her white dress was now full of autumn colors.  The golden leaf was now grafted to her body, with a network of barely visable roots branching out in every direction.

Margaret’s countenance changed.  Instead of looking stubborn, she now wore a pleasant expression on her face.  “My new form suits me well….” she said, smiling.

She then heard someone climbing the stairs.  It was her mother.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she said, gasping.  “I heard you scream.  Is there anything….” Her mother glanced at Margaret.  “Oh my goodness!  Margaret honey!  Autumn is starting to control you!”

“Mother,” Margaret told her.  “My name is not Margaret anymore.  I don’t like that name.  I hate it.  I really do, mother.  Do you know what name I like?”

Her mother shook her head in disbelief.  “No, honey….”

Her daughter stared at her with a smile on her face.  “Do you?”

Lily was now crying.  “No! No Margaret dear!  No!”

The daughter nodded.  “Yes mother.  I will tell you, since you don’t want to say it.  I like the name Autumn.  This is my name now, and what you will call me from now on…..”

Her mother sighed, still upset.  “Autumn?”

“Yes,” Autumn said, nodding.  “You will learn to love this name, like my great-great-grandmother did.”

Her mother was now angry.  “But you’re Margaret!” she shouted.  “I will never call you Autumn!”

Autumn faked a frown.  “You won’t?” she said coldly.  “You will have to, or I will turn you into a leaf.”

But the mother refused.  “No Margaret dear,” she argued.  “You will always be my Margaret!”

Autumn grinned.  “Well, let me tell you a secret then.  Do you remember your mother Maple?  I cast a spell on her before she died.  One day, you couldn’t find her.  Do you want to know why?”

“Why?” the mother shouted.

“That is because your mother turned into a leaf,” she answered.  “And this happened on the very day that your daughter was born.  And now, you will be joining her.  Farewell, Lily….”

Before the mother could scream anymore, she became a bright orange leaf.

“A lily colored leaf,” Autumn said with a smile.  “How nice.  I will now return to my real home.”

Autumn became a pile of leaves, and blew herself in a strong gust of wind all the way to the Forest Sanctuary.  When she got to the tall tree, she was upset.

“Too small,” Autumn said, complaining.  “I can barely live in this glass spot!”

Autumn raised her hands, which caused various trees to spring out of the ground.  Several of them broke through the glass dome.  Around the whole perimeter, trees sprang up everywhere, breaking through the glass.

“I will not be limited to this plot of land!” Autumn shouted.  “This wretched city looks ugly too!”

After a few more trees sprung up, the glass dome collapsed.  Chunks of glass fell to the ground, shattering everywhere.  But Autumn didn’t stop there.  When the glass dome was down, more trees sprang through the skyscrapers, causing many of them to collapse.  Autumn continued doing this to every city block.  When she was finished, the entire city was a vast, sprawling forest.

“Now this is the way I remembered it,” Autumn said with a smile.

Autumn sat at the base of the tall tree, staring at the bright moon above her.  Staring at fields and neighborhoods, it left Autumn unsatisfied.  The city was only the beginning….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #109

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part III

Something woke up Margaret in the middle of the night.  It was a strong gust of wind.  After realizing her window was shut, she looked around, trying to find the source of the wind.  She then noticed that it was coming from the golden leaf.  Her room was now lit with a strong yet faint golden glow.

Margaret then heard a voice.  The voice was subtle and quiet.  It was a gentle whisper that was just like the wind.

Margaret…. the voice whispered.

Instead of feeling scared, Margaret felt comforted by the voice.  It sounded familiar to her….  “Who are you?” she asked it.

A gentle gust flowed through Margaret’s hair.  I am you…. the voice whispered.

Margaret shook her head.  “You can’t be me,” she told the voice.  “If you were me, you would look exactly like me.  I don’t see anyone around here, so this can’t be true.”

The golden leaf’s light became brighter, and an even stronger gust of wind blew at Margaret.  I am you….!  The voice shouted in a loud whisper.

Margaret smiled.  “For you to be me, you would have to know who I am.  You would have to know pretty much everything about me in general.  Do you know who I am?”

Silence.

“Do you?” Margaret said louder, challenging the voice.

The strong wind became violent.  So violent that it knocked Margaret down on her bed.  The voice then spoke, in a rather quick, stern and quiet tone.   I am you, and you are me.  Just give it time, and you will see.

Margaret’s face lit up.  “A riddle? I love riddles!  And it won’t take me time to figure this out.  Trust me….”

A few minutes passed as Margaret thought about the riddle.  In her head, she kept repeating the words “I am you, and you are me”.   “I am you,” she repeated.  “And you are me?”

Moments later, she got it.  “I am you,” she repeated again.  “That means that I will become who you are.  You are me.  That means that you will become who I am….”  At this, she gasped.  “But who are you, then?”

A playful breeze hit Margaret’s face.  I am you….the voice said.  Don’t you see?

Margaret then thought about the riddle again.  “Oh yeah!” she gasped.  “The last line!  ‘Just give it time, and you will see.’ That means that I am not you yet.  But I will be….”

Then it hit her.  “Wait!” She said, gasping.  “Are you the one that my mother was talking about?  Autumn?”

The wind blew back Margaret’s hair.  You figured it out….The voice told her.  I am Autumn, and you will be soon….

Margaret shook her head in confusion.  “Does that mean that you’re my great-grandmother?”

The voice laughed.  That’s who I was.  But now, I need a new host.  You’re a pretty smart girl and you will suit me well….

Margaret was now shocked.  “Is this what you did to my great-grandmother?” She quietly shouted, careful not to wake her mother.  “You possessed her, and ruined her life!  You will not use my body, you wretched nymph!”

Autumn let out a sigh of laughter.  I’m afraid that it’s too late for that.  Both you and your great-grandmother did not learn their lesson.  Both of you took the leaf out of the forest.  That golden leaf is my vessel.  Now, how would you like it if someone took your bed out of your room….?

Margaret shook her head and took the defensive.  “I didn’t know,” she firmly stated.  “To me, it was just a beautiful leaf!  There wasn’t a sign anywhere that said “Do NOT take this leaf!”.

The wind began to pick up.  As smart as you are, you should’ve left it alone.  But thank you very much, Margaret, for letting me use your body.  I will enjoy it very much, and pretty soon, so will you…..

Margaret gasped.  “But I didn’t tell you that….”

A calm wind blew on Margaret’s face.  Again, thank you….and good night…..

Margaret’s face saddened.  She was thinking about crying, but she knew that this wouldn’t make things any better.  Thinking about what her mother said earlier, she tried to find something that she could do to resolve this problem.

Then she heard it.  The voice of her mother saying “Read the diaries, honey.”

The diaries….” she whispered.  “I’ll read them tomorrow….

Margaret, now calmer, got underneath the covers.  The golden leaf blew into her left hand and rested there.  Knowing that it would be futile to remove it, Margaret let it lay there.

A faint glow emanated from the golden leaf, It covered Margaret, filling her and the room with golden light….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #108

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….

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©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #107

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…..

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©2012  K. L. Walker