brutally homeless and fluffy
I watched as the leaf fell, dancing through the air with each pirouette bringing it closer to the earth. I remember that the tree was bare, its bark twisted and warped with age and blackened from fire. Roots were exposed along the ground, winding around each other at times and other times branching out, creating a network both tight and loose.
I think that the sky was red. I know that it felt red, that the sun was caught in that phase where it was either about to set or was going to sit in the sky forever, looming on the horizon but really illuminating very little. Houses were barely visible in the distance, small wooden homes with pitched roofs and and no porches, like something that would have been made when humans were younger.
It wasn’t a very long hike over to where the houses stood and cast their shadow on a copse of trees, but each step seemed heavier than the last, like the grass itself was pulling my feet back down to the earth and trying to make stay there. Leaves cracked under my feet, punctuating the rustling that I generally heard with a sharper Autumn sound.
At the very center of the town I paused and looked around, looking for any sign of life. Everything was still. Flat. Dead, but not in a way that seemed to mind being dead; it was a peaceful dead, the quiet of an ancient landmark its silence and gravity mimicking that of a bare spot deep in the forest.
A look into a well confirmed that everything was still, the water unmoving and stagnant. I sat down next to itl, fatigued from the day that never seemed to end. I may have sat there for hours or for minutes, I can’t be sure; what I do know is that eventually I began to see...memories. Shadows. Figments of people that had left carrying out their days where before there had been emptiness, sounds that sounded hollow and as though they were echoing from a far-off place.
This one man was chopping wood, his arms swinging like a well-oiled machine and cutting the raw material into neat halves. Every now and then he would grunt and I could see a little bit of sweat on his brow, but for the most part he continued stoically until his pile was completely finished. As I watched he seemed to reset, the wood back to being uncut and his arms swinging up and down, up and down, chopping wood that never stayed chopped.
I walked away from the well and around to a garden tucked neatly between a fence and a house on the outside of town where I found a young girl pulling the petals from a yellow flower. She couldn’t have been more than eight or nine, and there she was kneeling in the dirt with tears on her cheeks, pulling petals off and repeating the same words:
“He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me...” all the while plucking away, each petal landing near or on top of the last. She had just gotten to the last few petals when she began to bite her lip and more tears formed in the corners of her eyes when she also began to start over, the petals sewn back on and her tears held at bay once more.
Within another house there was a young couple making love in one of the two bedrooms, and I only watched long enough to see that he continuously thrust into her and she arched her back before I stepped away from that doorway and into the next, where a woman was knitting blue yarn into, well, something; I didn’t get to see its final shape before she also began again, fingers deftly twirling and pulling.
I stepped back into the center of the town and I watched the events repeat, over and over, hearing the echoing words and grunts and moans, when I began to feel something different, something that was just barely out of place. I turned towards where the feeling was strongest and saw a boy walking towards me. He was the source of the difference, I was sure; his feet didn’t echo, they sounded the same as mine: unbelievably heavy.
When he was within five feet of me he looked up and I saw in his eyes a certain tiredness that is atypical for someone of his age. They were grey cracked with some light blue--an unsettling combination, to say the least. He just stood like that for a long time, and I felt like I shouldn’t say anything because any moment something unbelievably important was going to happen.
He opened his mouth to speak, and while he didn’t echo, he whispered in the same way that someone whispers a confession to a friend.
“I just want to sleep.”