The maple leaf stops them. Its veiny palm invites examination, as peach and pale green cross shades. Autumn does this to maple leaves; scorns attempts to cling onto their tree of birth, strikes them down, flattens their flame. And then, somebody finds the leaf, finds charm in its crown-like edges, its slight resemblance to thorns.
“Wouldn’t that be nice for the school nature table?” says the mother, while her child echoes the colours in his mind, saves them for break time, when the crayons are passed out until it stops raining.
The child knows that ‘nice’ is not an appropriate word to describe the leaf. ‘Majesty’ drifts at the edge of his thoughts. ‘Majesty . . . Majestic . . . Majestic and Magical.’
He is in constant wait for something magical to happen to him and sometimes finds hints in nature. He would like to tell his mother that the maple leaf is singing, in low cracked notes, but he doesn’t think she would believe him and this would take away from the moment. Better to keep it safe.
He watches in silence as his mother picks up the leaf to be brought into school and hopes it doesn’t break in her overfull handbag. Magic is fragile.
K. S. Moore
The beginning of autumn reminded me about this piece of flash fiction, written about a year ago, as part of an attempt to write something new each morning. I’ve revised it to include more detail from the young boy’s imagination, emphasising the link between nature and magic.
My own memories of walking to school were key in the creation. There’s something about the combination of morning exercise, fresh air and visual stimulation that makes belief possible.
I’ve always thought this to be a special time of year and have extra reason to think so, this time, as my second baby is due in just a couple of weeks. She has already inspired two poems and our whole little family can’t wait for her to join us.