What can be the things that you used to do then that you can’t get yourself to do again now? And why?
She looks ahead at the asphalted street of the old town she used to live in. The trees are starting to shed off their seasonal dry leaves. No, it is not Autumn. The place she lives in is tropical, so she only gets two seasons: Summer season and Wet season (or so she calls it).
The wind blew and stirred the pile in on one side under the big tree. The leaves swirled around blown knee-high upward and gently landed back on the street. Another wind blew and the same happened to the other pile on the opposite side of the street.
She walked slowly forward. And by instinct, she stepped on one leaf near her next step. It crunched under her brown, ankle-high boots. She looked around and excitedly hopped onto another dry leaf. Then a smile crept onto her lips. Then it faded slightly.
On this same street, a memory that was far long-forgotten, slowly comes flooding back to her very clearly.
One afternoon after the last subject is done for the day, she hung out a bit by the playground with her classmates waiting for their parents to pick them up. It is a regular habit. Her house is within walking distance, so her parents do not need to drive and pick her up. There is also no set curfew as to when she is expected to be home because, well, she is already past the age of curfews. That or her parents knew that putting curfew will only make her always come home AFTER the curfew anyway.
After the last one of her classmates has gone home, she meets up with her friend from lower batch so they could go home together. As they start walking, they start talking about what school rumors they picked up, who got called to the head’s office this time and with what punishment, which school’s heartthrob is now becoming cuter than few months back, who among their classmates did the Math teacher pick on this time, etcetera. Then they get to this part of the street where massive leaves fall off the huge trees that line up the sidewalk.
Then the crunch contest starts. The crunch contest goes like this:
1. They will take turns in picking a leaf to step on and stepping on a dry leaf.
2. Whoever steps on a leaf that crunches will get a point.
There were a lot of leaf to choose from so they each take a spot on top of a leaf they picked and started with the game. But of course, the game starts fairly at first. But when one gets to have more luck in crunching leaves more than the other, the stealing comes next which ends up with either one stepping on each other’s foot and crunching their toes instead. The game where no one loses, and no one wins but they end up laughing so hard.
It seems to loosen them up as well as they can start talking about what they are both seriously going through even during their game time. And those are the times when stepping on each other’s foot is a little heavier than the other times. So, they stop competing on a leaf and start talking things out while still stepping on different suspicious leaves. Lost in either one’s story of pain or concern, the non-crunch would no longer matter.
Then one time, it drizzled a bit in the afternoon so some leaves got wet and will no longer crunch. This made the game a little more challenging. The pavement is wet enough and the paint on the gutter turned slippery.
One of them will pick a seemingly crunchy leaf on a now-dry part of the road but no crunching sound will come out. Their laughter echoes through the quiet afternoon. They were already jumping one leaf after another hoping to get them to crunch with little to no result of a crunch. Now no one is keeping score already. Both became just so busy jumping on one leaf to another in random directions until she realized she is the only one now screaming and laughing. She turned around to see her friend still on the ground, in a pool of blood, eyes staring up the white dull sky. Then everything else blurred out.
That was years ago. Tears stung her eyes though the smile is still etched on her lips. She shakes her head and brushes off a tear that started to roll down one of her cheeks. She cursed at the wind and the leaves that reminded her of that memory.
She steps back.
She takes a deep breath. With tear-blurred eyes she looked ahead.
Damn, Stace I can’t. I still can’t.
She turns around and chose the next corner to walk on – no leaves, not wide, rather rough but definitely not echoing with fading laughter and teases that crunches her heart.
Whew… and let us snap out of it. How are you guys?
Just a little late story I need to pen in or it will bother me whole night. Kidding of course. None of the story is based on real-life nor from my experience except for the love for crushing dry leaves with my shoes. I love the sound of crushing dry leaves. Not madly though and I am also amused with the vast range of “earth tones” there is on dry or drying leaves hence the fascination as well with autumn.