What Happened to the Leaves and Me
by Ana Navarro
When I feel the satisfying crunch of the rust-colored leaves beneath my boots, I am automatically transported back to the eighth grade. Back to the game, we used to play on our way home from school. Our legs would tangle as be stepped over each other, trying to step on the fallen leaves before the other one did. There was never any discussion surrounding it; we carried on speaking about whatever great injustice middle school’s shadow had cast over our day. Your dry lips would crack a smile I could see, even though you kept your head bowed in focus. Hands buried deep in the pockets of your favorite army green jacket, greasy faded hair tucked into your hood. My oversized leather jacket swung around my knees as I lept to the end of the block. The whoosh of state road intersection was background noise to the symphony of our friendship. The stomping of our boots, the giggles, and whispered secrets shared while we played the leaf game. Now when my soles hit the pavement, I am confronted with the fact that no one plays that game with me anymore. Our game was just another artifact you left in my mind. Another fond memory I recall when I think of you. For trees to protect themselves against winter and continue to grow, every fall they shed their leaves. Sometimes we need to do the same.