by Merry Monteleone
She sat, taking care to gauge the proximity of the bench before letting her entire weight relax into the seat. Her face tilted heavenward, eyes as bright as sea foam spray rushing into warm, inviting sand.
She let her finger tips dance along the wood, timid at first and then certain in their rhythm, her palm finding every contour and groove. Smooth - unmarred by initials, hewn in rough slashes in some attempt to capture immortality on a lonely park bench.
She counted the steps back in her mind, wondering if she’d found the wrong place, but the tree was there. Dim shadows, to be sure, and it seemed larger somehow.
Fall was her favorite season. The musky smell of earth and drying leaves, and the colors – in her memory the splashes of golds and burgundies floated in gorgeous torrents around her. How quick those moments passed, and she never realized how magical they were, how rarely they came, until they were nothing more than memory, fading as fast as her sight.
Sitting alone was hard, she couldn’t feign interest in a book or hide her face in the pages and Braille was still a bit beyond her meager coping skills. Instead, the shadow tree held her in movement she couldn’t be certain was real – a falling leaf? A baby bird, leaving the nest.
“Annabelle.” His voice hadn’t aged a day.
The warmth of his hand inside hers reminded her of falling leaves.